Doing the seminar sashay…how to get the Head Banana’s attention


Many of you promote plan on promoting your books have discovered your inner hambone and plan on doing seminars, which means there is a Head Banana who considers each pitch that crosses their desk. Their eyes glaze as they skippie-doo over each email, which are many, looking for those that capture their attention because they stand out from the rest.

Sound familiar? Hey, bing! It’s like querying. Gah, it never ends, does it? And stop rolling your eyes and groaning like you ate too many Twinkies. You never stop promoting your book. Evah.

So you inner hambones need to write a pitch that will grab Head Banana’s attention – just like you did with your agent or editor. I thought I’d offer some tips that may help you when pitching to places for your seminar.

Cover letter/email – be slobber-worthy

You need a compelling cover letter that is succinct and slobber-worthy…just like a cover letter to an editor. Come from a position of strength rather than a “I have a really cool book, so please pick me.” In order to accomplish this, it’s best to convey how your seminar(s) will benefit their group.

If your cover letter is something like dry toast:

Dear Ms. Head Banana,
I would like the opportunity to speak before your Inverted Belly Button Foundation because I wrote a book on this very subject and can speak about the heartbreak of having an inverted belly button. I would love to discuss this possibility and find out what you’re looking for.

I can guarantee that Ms. Head Banana has seen umpeeunth cover letters that say the same thing. Your cover letter shouldn’t be a plea to open up a dialog with Ms. Head Banana because she doesn’t have the time. A cover letter like this is easy to dismiss because it doesn’t say or offer anything newsworthy. She has no idea how wonderful you are and how mahvelous your book is. She sees another letter asking for a chance.

Bleh. Next…

You avoid this by offering some measure of detail that lets Head Banana know exactly who you are, what you have to offer, and why you’re the best one with that information. I suggest giving a very short overview of your book, and be sure to include the link to your author page. And you do have a smokin’ webpage or blog, right? If your cover letter is compelling, believe me, they’ll check out your website.

And just to make sure I don’t leave you with your tongue hanging out, here is a sample cover letter I use when pitching to writer’s conferences. It’s not Hemingway, but it’s not meant to be. It’s barfing out information that I know Ms. Head Banana needs in order to render a decision.

More is Better

This is one of the few times when more is better. What I mean is that it’s best to have several seminars because it gives the organizers more choice. It’s easy to get a rejection if you put all your eggs into one basket. Get more eggs and carry more baskets, and you up your chances of hitting the mark. This may also parlay itself into a series of seminars because Ms. Head Banana can’t make up her mind on just one – which doubles your exposure. Tra la.

The Starring Role – Your Seminar(s)

In addition to my cover letter, I attach my seminars. By doing so, my goal is to get them while they’re hot. No, you potty-minds, not THAT hot. Striking-while-the-iron-is-hot hot.

I know this from experience. I’ll get a proposal for a book that looks delicious, but the author or agent doesn’t include the sample chapters. My iron is hot – yes, yes, I’ll pause for you pervs – and I want to read those pages NOW. Instead, I have to email the agent or author and request the pages, which somewhat cools my iron. If they take too long, my iron will get downright frigid. Taking one last pause for you nasties.

You’ll note in my sample that I include a short synopsis of each seminar, three bullet points of what the seminar covers, and three bullet points of what attendees will learn. This is powerful stuff, and I can’t urge you enough to use this kind of template when writing up your seminars because it’s a clear view of what you provide. Their little fingers will tremble as they marvel at your fabulosity.

And this, dear authors, is where you rope in Ms. Head Banana. Do I need another pause for dirty minds? Your list of seminars is so breathtaking that she will email you immediately, stating that she can’t wait to meet and hear you speak. Or something close to that.

I have to say that in all my years of doing public speaking, I’ve never had anyone say I wasn’t the right fit for their conference – and here’s why…

Research Those You Pitch

I do a thorough study of those I pitch. I make sure their conference or group is right up my alley because I know not all conferences were created equally. For example, the Romance Writers of America probably wouldn’t want me as one of their presenters – not because my seminars don’t apply to romance writers – they do, but because I don’t publish romance.

My being there takes the place of an editor who does publish romance, and authors are looking to pitch to those editors in addition to hearing what they have to say about publishing. I am mindful of the kinds of speakers any particular group is looking for. I do this so I don’t waste their and my time.

Always remember that you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Put yourself in Ms. Head Banana’s Victoria Secrets and think like someone who is pitched to all the time and is looking to be wowed. She can’t know of your amazingosity unless you show her.

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