How to Deliver a Keynote Address
Authors, this page is for you!
One of our primary jobs at Heartland is to introduce authors and their books to independent booksellers across the Midwest. Nothing replaces a good, old-fashioned handshake and a face-to-face meeting. Learning about a book directly from the author helps encourage a bookseller to stock the book and put it in the hands of customers.
Our event includes opportunities for authors to enjoy delivering a keynote address--meaning, there's no competing programming against yours and all event attendees are in the audience.
We suggest viewing Pat Schmatz's keynote from a previous Heartland Fall Forum for inspiration.
Here's how to knock a keynote out of the park
- Please abide by the time limit we gave to you via your publicist. Typically, our keynotes range between 8-12 minutes (depending on how many authors are booked for a typical hourlong event). Please know, 8-12 minutes is ample time to ingratiate yourself to booksellers, and it’s supremely important to leave enough time after keynotes are done for signing books and talking one-on-one with booksellers, which is just as important as your remarks.
- Author talks such as this help booksellers better sell your book by bringing it to life, giving them reasons to carry it in their store, put it on a display, book you for an event, handsell it to customers, etc. Publishers give us complimentary galleys to share for free with our booksellers so they can familiarize themselves and their staff with forthcoming titles.
- Incorporate your book's selling points naturally into your talk. It's also good to talk about what books inspired you, as "comp titles" give booksellers an easy way to know how to market and sell your book. Pretend your keynote is a trailer for your book.
- Don't: Read from your book, unless it's a brief portion setting up your talk. Booksellers want to hear from you about the book rather than be read to.
- Do: Abide by a helpful rule of thumb: Craft what you will say as if it's dinner party conversation at a table full of book lovers. You wouldn't plumb the depths of your book research process at a dinner party, but you would tell delightful anecdotes about yourself, how you came to write this book, indie bookstore stories, your favorite reading material, etc. (Note: At said imaginary dinner party, you also wouldn't talk favorably about giant online book retailers.)
- Do: Pack a handout that facilitates communication after the event: business card, postcard promo about your book, etc., including your email address and social media accounts. Some creative authors give away swag based on their book, but it's all up to you. Many of our booksellers call these events “author shopping,” as they form connections with authors and work on setting up events in their stores, so be prepared for these possible conversations.
- Most importantly, DO include indie bookstore buy buttons on your website! Booksellers will support you if you support them. Read the info above about how to do that if you aren't already.