EARN Your “WRITE” TO Speak: -Part 2

For both the new and the experienced author, the options are many, the banquet is bountiful and best-sellerdom awaits. There’s no way around it; print books still sell and e–books are here and here to stay …on your laptop, ipad or smart phone. Audio books are now either available as CDs or for download and “easy listening” to your device of choice.

Definition of Best-Seller:

It’s a book that makes recognized,  legitimate Fiction or Non-Fiction lists (ie: Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, NY Times, Chicago Tribune, USAToday, et al). Selling a boatload of books in the back of a room after a presentation doesn’t make the book a best-seller. But a best-seller earns us the “write to speak”.

bestseller books author writer speak speakers

Some Amazon lists are also recognized but not those obscure time-stamped lists that are segmented by miniscule categories: Amazon personal development for people in food service business in the Northeast on a Tuesday. You get my drift.

Buying Best-Seller Status

The secret about BEST–sellers: IT’S A CRAPSHOOT! In the spirit of disclosure: there are companies and people who have been known to “buy” their way onto lists for decades. And it costs. In 2013 Fortune Magazine featured an article/expose about one such company and  Amazon’s reaction is it no longer will recognize those purchases or sales from the company.

Other than these “buy your way onto the list” companies, no one has a clue as to whether an  author’s book will really make it to the top of the charts. It’s often some fluke, an article, a “coincidental” event or news item or a tweet that goes viral and VOILA! everyone wants your book.

But, leaving book sales to “chance” is a foolish choice.


It is the BEST of Times, the Worst of Times.

There is now much we now can do to promote, entice, persuade, cajole, market and publicize both offline, in print and through social media. Publishers expect authors to do all of the above. But one thing that will never change:  we cannot force people to buy our books. (Though I so very often wish we could)!

When publishers say they are here to be our “partners”, the  translation is :  authors will do a TON of the work.

 Meet The Needs of The Market

For the non-fiction genre…we must write books that people perceive as their own need not what we think they need.

That is how How To Work A Room® made it big and still sells and is now in its fourth Silver Anniversary edition.  It meets a need that people perceive as their own.

An important question for you to answer.

Who is the real market for your book? What newspapers, magazines and TV shows (and online venues) represent the audience that could and WOULD buy it?

Advice From my Publishing Network

Here are Quotes and Tips from people in my network in the industry:

From an editor at a major house: “Think differently about a concept that is already a topic of other books.”

Quote from anonymous buddy in the book biz:

“I believe any 10 people on the street have as good an idea of what will sell in publishing as any 10 people in the industry!”

Quote from a successful author who got a big advance and NO pr support…

“Just think of publishers as high-end printers with DISTRIBUTION.”

She just revised her book with former editor at new house for NO money but LOTS of pr, marketing, media support both on and off line. And is far happier.

About phenoms: Quote : Larry Kirshbaum, former CEO Time -Warner Trade Publishing

“Harry Potter is a phenom. With our focus groups, research and marketing we never could have created this series and frenzy. He was created in the head of a young girl who was an adult on the dole sat in a coffee house and gave him life.

Once the swirl begins, then the media and pr arm of a house can increase the awareness, but we could not have created nor anticipated Harry Potter.”

Quote from Mark Chimsky …. Hire a freelance book publicity person! (NOT a pr firm) ! Surest way to get the best-seller is guerilla marketing at grassroots level. Identify target markets.

Identify Your Potential Best seller Support Network!

It isn’t enough to say that you have 999 facebook friends. Of course, you keep them in your book loop but that’s only part of the equation. Get paper and pencil and start writing your  lists based on FB, LinkedIn, your contact list, holiday card list, phone call list. Don’t forget people on your phone, address book, fellow alumni, neighbors and friends from work and camp.

Go back and uncover your roots and core constituencies -religious affiliations, Catholic, Jewish, Christian, African –American, profession (teachers, lawyers, entrepreneus, nurses, Small biz people), organizations, high school clubs, fraternities or sororities, bowling league) hobbies, kids…. etc. With your publisher’s pr team, plan an email compaign. Let people who know you ….know about your book and that you’d value their help in getting the word out.  Ask the publisher to create a postcard…with usuable tips for a “snail mail” compaign and  in-person distribution.

It’s Smart To Ask The Publisher

Publishers and authors have the same goal. We authors must fill in and do what the publisher won’t or can’t . It’s best to work in tandem. For The Silver Anniversary issue of How To Work a Room®, I wanted an infographic of the step-by-step process and asked the marketing rep assigned to our team.  She agreed. I sent the content and they hired the graphic artist. If we don’t ask, the answer is always “no”.

Other venues for your book: Organizations/associations catalogues, gift and stationery stores and specialty out lets.shops. Get to know the special sales person at the publishing house and share you ideas/leads. Make sure the small window of pr and publicity  usually  provided by publisher is augmented by you.


This is still a business run on relationships. It’s still about who you know and who knows you and will gladly make the introductions to the people they know. Former editors have new colleagues… they go to another house and get the support to support us as authors!

About The Money

Quote from an author: “Get your money upfront… it determines what the house will do for you. If they don’t .. who cares… you have the money.”

If you’re writing and solo publishing, you may want to consider a kickstarter campaigne.

RoAne reminder, “IF you do nothing for your book because they have not, and the book does not makes its numbers, the NEXT advance is impacted. More importantly, there won’t be a next book.”

Partner with colleagues and associates with large subscriber and opt-in lists. Ask them to help spread the word.

From Leslie Rossman, independent book publicist, formerly of Harper, San Francisco and others:

“What makes a bestseller? It is the “thing you can’t put your finger on” or we all would do it.”

Books that get huge advances don’t necessarily get the publicity dept attention. The PR person or your editor– who loved the book- could leave the house or have 30 books assigned to her, the Director may just have had a baby and FAVORS the book on life after motherhood, they could have pitched the book to the ‘majors’ and gotten a lukewarm response and the ardor cools. Or a national event occurs and neatly ties in with another book that was not even a lead title but becomes one.

Being on Oprah did NOT guarantee a best-seller. It depends on the segment, how you are positioned.

But you have to ‘Be in it, to win it.’ So you do booksignings cause you just NEVER KNOW who will show up and where that will lead.”

Quote from Carl LaMell, Chairman of the Board of The RoAne Group,

“ Remember, get your ego out of it. You can get your money in royalties as well. Those great checks twice a year are a great bonus and diminish the tax hit.”

Quote from a very successful author:

“Remember who works in publishing… people willing to punch a clock for a living…. For NOT necessarily a LIVING wage.”

The Speakers Advantage

We are marketing savvy and do it all the time for our biz. We have press kits, one sheets, pr material, articles, quotes by and about us and VIDEOS. We already have a client base, database and CAN speak…. At books-signings, at Author events and to the media. We have calendars of where we will speak that the house can build on for media without airfare and media escorts. Speakers who travel are savvy travelers… we know how to get from an airport to a hotel and one radio show to a TV taping. (Sometimes a publisher will have an AUTHOR tour, but there are fewer of them. We offer a several city option OVER a LONGER period of time that’s tied to our speaking.

And we know our material and have signature stories, BON MOTS and 3-7 step strategies (mini cures for the world’s ailments): VERY sound sound bites and bytes.

Most of us can write a 500-1200 word article or do a draft and have our freelance editor send it to ‘charm school.’

We as speakers have websites, links, interactive material, content and some marketing savvy to pull visitors and have a ‘sticky’ site.And we are social media savvy.  Publishers LOVE it.

Your “Top Tips” Tip Sheet


tips best seller book author tipsheet

TIP:   Here are my  “Two Cents”:

“As in speaking, our book buying audience must feel we are apart of their world, not A PART from their world.” “Once the word of mouth set sales on fire… then the house can help.” “Once the word of mouth set sales on fire… then the house can help.”

TIP: Do not compare yourself to the exceptions (According to Miss Fripp) but use them as models. There is only one Chicken Soup Series, one Dummies series, one Harry Potter series, one alphabet mystery series. The rest are copies… maybe even good ones and one or two of the copy cats may break through the roof.

Tip:   Self-publish to prove there is a market. If there is, you’ll be “found”.

Tip: Attend Writers conferences in your town, state, region or a national conference. There are many good ones. OR help your local library, bookstore or state university organize one.

Tip: “Work” Rooms full of agents, editors and publishers.

(YOU never know who might be in those rooms).

The industry is changing and is frightening the folks in traditional publishing. Authors get to deal with their angst, editorial angst and publishing house angst.

TIP: Study publishing catalogues both hard copies and online to see what they say they are doing to market and promote other authors. (This is often NOT what they really do but it is info for you to plan).

Tip: Be a timely author… meet deadlines. (OR you will give the house a reason to NOT allocate monies for your pr or worse —cancel your book).


TIP: Support your local bookstores and community. John Grisham started with his local bookstores and library and those are the ones he goes back to visit now that he is a wild success! He has not forgotten his roots and support team.

Tip: BUY your books locally…. If we don’t support local stores, we won’t have any left.

IF you get on a credible best- seller list… other stores see that and the movement starts.

ROANE RULE:   Some BEST sellers lists of full of “dreck” and DRECK makes it to many lists.

NOT all lists count (the Marin Independent Journal does not, San Francisco- Bay AREA does).



With elaborate marketing, pr and promotion sections.

DREAM big, but keep your feet firmly planted in reality.

Remember, print has shelf life. Radio attracts more thinkers as listeners and TV sells sometimes. And podcasts sell books! My guest stints on podcasts has increased book sales and helped catapult me into the royalties.

A ROANE REVELATION: Getting a lot of print does NOT guarantee a best-seller. Editors and publishers have seen that happen often.

LEARN the houses’ divisions, heads, editors, players… be nice to them all. (One book buddy sent the copy editor of a national paper that featured his article a THANK YOU note).

Be a partner to your publisher never forgetting that it is the FLAVOR of the Millisecond… so fickle. And you’re going to do a whole lot of work anyway.

Quote from a  PR person at a HUGE house about a very ‘spiritual’ well-known speaker and author,”

“He was a NIGHTMARE, a control freak who is so passive-aggressive that the house will PASS on anything he writes in the future.   How he treated us was the subject of many conversations that went to the top person in our company!”  And that author never again was published by the company who had first rights of refusal. Refuse they did.

(I wish I could reveal the author’s name but that would be “grounds” even though it’s true).  What we don’t want is to be the author who’s the Nightmare on Elm (or any other) Street.

Get to know book bloggers and reviewers before your Pub date. You can do so via twitter, linkedin groups and association sites.

Tip: Invite bookstores to your talks to sell books. YOU LOSE money in the short haul… for #s and best-seller status… And you gain the support of Bookstores.

Tip:  Schedule book signings. It does matter more than who shows up that night. The store will highlight the books prior and may sell many before you get there. Autograph stock and it will sell more you leave the store. Make it a party and bring food.

Book Sales:  Numbers Game.

What matters in bookstore tallies are  numbers of books sold,  not that they were bought at that exact moment of your signing.

Tip: Work with your local bookstore. Let them handle sales, shipping and you still get royalties and #s that count. Now with BookSense, you can have the support of a network of independent stores.

DECIDE if you are a speaker who wants to have a book (for back of the room sales) or a writer who sees themselves as an author who speaks.

Design your plan accordingly. (I chose to LOSE lots of money in the short haul for the long-term goal). And I hated getting that blue stuff from credit card receipts on my fingers.


You need: a great idea or a very unique perspective on a problem. According to Toni Boyle, aka The Empress of Audio: “Be able to put the vintage wine in a NEW goblet”.

Susan RoAne is an international speaker, a consultant and author who resides in the San Francisco area.  AKA The Mingling Maven® ,she is the perfect conference/meeting Kickoff speaker.


About Susan RoAne

Susan RoAne leads a double life as a sought-after professional keynote speaker and a bestselling author. Known as The Mingling Maven®, she gives diverse audiences the required tools, techniques and strategies they need to connect and communicate in today’s global business world. The San Francisco Chronicle says she has a “dynamite sense of humor.” To hire Susan to speak for your company, association or college, 1.415.461.3915