Do I Have to Write Before I Speak?

I’m a fairly successful blogger. (Around 1200 hits a day, during the week–less on weekends. Apparently I attract people who should be working.) Anyway, what my true dream is, is to be on the LDS speaker’s circuit. I realize I can’t get a job visiting Stake Conferences (and truly, who would want to?). I’m not a religion professor, so the whole know your religion stuff is out of reach for me. But, women’s conferences, youth conferences, that Deseret Book sponsored “Time out for Women” thing. I want to do that.

I’m actually a good speaker. And once upon a time, I was a professional trainer, so I know I’m good in front of a crowd. Give me a clip on microphone and I’m ready to go. But, I think I need to publish a book to get noticed. (Somehow I doubt even an Ensign article will do what it takes.) Do you think this is true? Deseret Book isn’t going to have me on their speaker tour unless I publish with them, so in order to fill my dream, do I have to 1. write a book and 2. get Deseret Book to publish it? Is there another way? If there isn’t another way, is it best to write a doctrinal book, humorous “women’s issue” book, sappy “women’s issue” book, or fiction?

I realize this is probably a funny question to ask a publisher, but I figured you’d have greater insight than I do on this issue. I suppose you love for your authors to do this type of thing because it sells books. Thanks!

This is funny. Well, not funny ha-ha, but unusual. It’s the exact opposite of most people I talk to on a regular basis, who write a book and then want into the speaking circuit as a way to promote their book.

I’m not sure I can fully answer this question, so readers, please chime in. This is what I know. It is difficult to get into the LDS speaking circuit, particularly the BYU women’s conferences. There is an application process. You have to send a video. And it can take years. It’s easier to get in to the BYU-Idaho conference, and once there, you have a stepping stone to BYU in Provo.

Time Out for Women is one giant commercial for Deseret Book and their products. That’s not to demean it or say it isn’t useful or helpful to those that attend. From all I’ve heard, it’s a wonderful event and enjoyed by all. But you do have to have a DB book or product.

You don’t need a book to speak at youth conferences or enrichment nights. What you need are a few people to give you a start, do a fabulous job and then word will spread. It’s easiest to do this if you have a timely topic to discuss that would be of interest to these groups—literacy, last days, finances, etc.

The reason authors have an easier time breaking in to the speaking circuit is because their book sets them up as an “authority” in their subject area. It’s a credential. You can get your credentials in other ways—like through a successful blog. But you need to find someone who will get you started, and I’m not sure how to do that.

If you do decide to write, what you write depends on what you want to speak about. If you want to speak on doctrinal issues, write a doctrinal book. If you want to speak on women’s issues, write a book about that.

Readers? Are any of you popular LDS speakers? What advice do you have?

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

5 thoughts on “Do I Have to Write Before I Speak?”

  1. I agree with everything LDSpublisher has said. the first step is to develop a ‘platform’ so that you can market your presentation, then send out notices to youth groups, camp directors, RS presidents as suited for your presentation. You’ll want to be able to highlight enough details of what you will talk about so they know what they are getting. Without a book you might get MORE attention because there is a fear that any author is going to promote their book, which is forbidden, but it will likely be harder for you to come across as ‘credentialed’ because people will wonder why you know anything more than they do on a topic. It will likely take a long time to get yourself noticed, as you’re competing with all the other authors and musicians trying to do the same thing.

    Women’s conference and TOFW is nearly impossible to get into, from what I’ve heard. I know many authors that have tried over the years and never gotten even a nibble.

    And yet, I don’t believe passion is ever driven into us without a reason. The trick is finding that reason and how we’re to use it to fulfill our measure. Good luck.

  2. Very wisely said, Josi. I began to speak after the publication of my first book, and before that nobody even knew to ask me to talk about anything. Now the most common theme for me is literacy.

    I also believe that when you have a desire to do something it’s probably for a reason. An author years ago, (and I need to look up my old notes so I can credit her), said, “God doesn’t give you the desire without the talent to back it up.” I believe that. We may need to hone the talent or work like dogs on the business side of things to make it happen, but that initial desire/talent mix is what gets the ball rolling.

    I agree with what Josi said about circulating flyers, etc. You might also play up your experience as a professional trainer and then add in any callings you’ve had that have given you experience in the subjects you’d like to present on. Start locally with your ward and stake and let word of mouth do some of the work for you. As you become more established, you could even approach seminaries and institutes. Never hurts to ask or figure out the system.

    Also, consider writing some smaller articles and pieces for publication in LDS magazines which are gaining momentum in the market now. You could develop several articles, I’m sure, from your blog. You’ve probably got a goldmine in your blog archives.

    I’m starting to ramble- I hope this helps, some! Good luck, and if you don’t mind, email me your blog addy! I want to check it out.

  3. Yeah, I’d like to check out your blog, too. I’d love to know how you built up your audience.

  4. I speak at Enrichment nights or firesides several times a month. My topic is a platform that I spun off of my Book of Mormon series. But I’m not allowed to promote my books in any way. This means that I’m introduced as an author but I don’t talk about my books during my presentation.

    I’ve also spoken at BYU Women’s Conference on the topic of Motherhood, but was asked not to promote my books.

    So if you don’t have a book, you still need a strong platform and “credibility” or expertise on your topic. If you do have a book, it will give you a stronger platform, but you won’t be able to promote that book.

  5. I heard that you can’t apply to speak for Women’s Conference, that you are asked by the committee, and that it’s put on by the General RS Board and a committee at BYU. Maybe Heather can confirm if this is true. Did you go to them, or did they come to you?

    And I agree about having a book first. It gives you credibility. As soon as people found out my book was being published I was asked to speak at Enrichment’s. And even though I’ve offered to speak on other subjects, they always want me to speak on the subject of my books. So make sure your book is about something you want to talk about.

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