One of questions I’m most frequently asked is “If I write a book, will that increase my chances of being accepted as a conference speaker?” And as with almost question regarding the conference industry, the answer is – “it depends.” A few marketing conferences, and even some entrepreneurial/leadership events, are keen to have authors as part of their speaker lineup – even offering book signings during the networking breaks. For the majority of conference organizers, however, having a book published will not guarantee a speaking role. That is not to say that you should not write a book if you are passionate about an idea and eager to share it with the world. I just don’t suggest you spend your time writing a tome simply to secure more or better speaking engagements.
Why won’t a book put your speaker submission over the top?
Keep in mind that it is much easier to write and publish a book in today’s digital world of ebooks and online bookstores. This means that there are MANY new books published every week. Also remember that, unless it is a best seller or work of fiction, books tend to have a shelf life. (How recently have you flipped through those books on “Web 2.0” or “What is Cloud Computing?” that you bought ten years ago?) Conferences that ask for a list of published books or materials in the speaker submission form typically ask for the publication dates as well. And since most conferences plan their agenda 9 – 12 months in advance, a book published more than a few years ago may seem stale by conference content standards.
So how can you increase your changes of being accepted as a speaker?
What does matter to conference managers is that the topic you are suggesting is unique and actionable. Conference managers are also more interested in expertise and past speaking experience, than whether you wrote a book. It helps if you are known as an expert on that topic and have examples of recent talks to prove that you can hold your own on stage. Yes, a book will help prove that you know your stuff, but there are many ways to demonstrate that. Instead of committing the time to writing a book, you could produce a blog or podcast that offers new topic ideas on a regular basis. You could also create regular posts for LinkedIn. The best way to prove to conference managers that you are a subject matter expert and passionate speaker is to show them – upload a video of a past speaking engagement that conference mangers can access. This will illustrate your knowledge and stage presence in a way that the written word cannot.