Just about every author I’ve shared notes with see a cart horse relationship between writing books and speaking. Most of us do better on the fame side of the fame-fortune continuum but we need both speaking and books to make a decent living.
My author friends who do the best financially from speaking engagements, invariably use speaker agents. Until a few weeks ago I have not followed suit, although I was aware that I was not doing well on the paid-speaking circuit as several of my peers.
This is because the speaking agents and bureaus I’ve spoke with have not made me comfortable on three simple areas. I want to feel like anyone representing me understands who I am, what I talk about and can help find audiences that want to hear what I have to say in the style I deliver it.
The first agent I ever spoke to was right after Naked Conversations was published. I suspected we had a mismatch when he advised me that he would not use the title of the book in pitching on my behalf. “Naked,” he advised me, would turn off some of the corporate audiences that he would sell me too.
Other agencies have told me how great the agencies were. Others could not fathom that I was not a technology speaker and so on. My conversations with other bureaus got less frequent and shorter, until I decided to go my own route.
I didn’t do badly, but with a new book, I thought I would give it another try. I actually found two that understood social media and even Twitter. One was in Boston and represented several of the most respected social media speaker authors, people I look up to, but that agency failed to convince me that they understood where and when I was unique versus another name on the list.
About then I asked for recommendations on Twitter. I have obvious faith in Twitterville and I have always trusted the opinions of people I know more than Google searches or what organizations say about themselves on a website.
So when Wallace Wilson recommended Steve Gardner, CEO of Five Star Speakers in Kansas City, I paid attention. When Wallace said he had actually used Five Star, I paid closer attention and when I discovered that Steve actually tweeted I started getting downright optimistic.
Steve has spent well over two hours talking with me on the phone. We have exchanged over 30 emails. We have discussed aspects of our personal life. During all that Steve convinced me that he knows who I am, what I have to say and why people might want to hear it.
I share all this because some of you may need to retain an agent or a consultant. Others of you may be consultants. I thought it might be useful or interesting to share the process and what factors got me to decide to go with Steve and Five Star.
One other note. My "turning pro" does not eliminate the selected free speaking engagements that I have done. I love speaking to the social media community itself. I have just completed a new book and I want to talk about it. Instead, it vastly expands the audiences that I hope to reach.
In fact, there are several ways it may be easier for me to participate in community events, by getting me to cities and venues, where sponsorship might not otherwise be available.