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More speakers added to ASJA conference

New Speaker Additions to ASJA2015: Connect for SuccessASJA

Carolyn Waters is the Assistant Head Librarian at the New York Society Library, the oldest library in New York City. She’ll be sharing her expertise on the Beyond the Basics: Research to Help You Dig Deep panel on Friday, May 1, the first day of ASJA2015 open to the public.

Todd Pitock has won several ASJA Outstanding Article awards, including this year’s awards for both Lifestyle and Op-Ed articles. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Discover, Nautilus, National Geographic Traveler and others. Catch him on the From Pitch to Publish panel, also on Friday.

Kirby Kim is a literary agent representing commercial authors in fiction and nonfiction. He worked as an agent at Charlotte Sheedy Literary, Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit. She’ll be speaking on the From Essay to Book Panel, Friday.

Steffen A. Kaplan is a social media and visual consultant with two decades of experience as a supervising photo editor at The New York Times. Today he leads his own brand “Spin It Social” and is a social media consultant/strategist for AARP’s Life Reimagined platform and its executive leadership and thought leaders. Don’t miss him on Saturday on the panel Going Viral: How to Get More Attention for Your Book or Story. Members have access to an additional full day of incredible speakers on Thursday, April 30.

I’ve volunteered a Members Day session on “How to Get Speechwriting Assignments … No Matter Where You Live”. One lucky attendee will win a copy of How To Write & Give A Speech, now celebrating 31 continuous years of publishing success – never out of print a single day.

Not a member? Find out how to join.

Can’t come for the whole event? One-day pricing is available, starting from $269. Catch sessions such as Breaking into Content Marketing Writing and Successfully Self-Publish on Friday, or Tech Markets: The Road to Success and Business Matters: Proposals, Contracts & More on Saturday.

How to prepare a room for public speaking success

So, you’ve prepared all your presentation materials and even rehearsed a few times. Ready to go? No, not so fast. Your speech is only as good as the venue allows it to be. Set the room like a good director sets the stage – put everything in place for a successful delivery.

You may have prepared a witty speech or an informative presentation, but if the audience can’t hear you well or see you comfortably, much of your hard work will go to waste.

And if the audience is suffering from an air-conditioning system that doesn’t work, you might as well let everyone head home early.

Check the room:

1. Does the room have windows? If glare poses a problem, shut the drapes.

2. Does the hotel ballroom have unwanted mirrors in back of your lectern? (This happens more often than you might realize.) You don’t want a full-view reflection of your backside to reveal any fidgeting. Insist that the hotel either block the mirrors with a decorative screen or move your lectern.

3. Does the lectern have a light? Is it plugged in and ready to go? Is a spare light bulb handy? Does the lectern have a shelf where you can stash a cough drop, a handkerchief, or a glass of water?

4. Does the seating work for you or against you? Arrive early and adjust the chairs if needed. If you expect your audience will be smaller than the number of seats in the auditorium, take ribbon to rope off the back rows.

5. Is the room soundproof? You don’t want to make your most important point, only to have the audience distracted by a noisy meeting next door.

Adapted from How To Write & Give A Speech (St. Martin’s Press, updated 4th edition, 2014). Published in Spanish, Japanese and Dutch.

stack of books

Who won an IABC Gold Quill Award?

IABC has announced the Excellence and Merit winners of the 2015 Gold Quill Awards program (#IABCgq).

You can find the full list of winners on the Gold Quill Awards website.   The awards will be presented at the Excellence Awards Gala, to be held on Monday 15 June, as part of the World Conference in San Francisco.

In total, 313 entries have been awarded, with 124 Excellence and 189 Merit. Awards have been won by organizations from around the world, with 15 countries represented in the winners list.

BookExpo America (BEA) … coming in May

Interested in publishing? Consider attending BookExpo America, the national booksellers’ convention. It’s huge – beyond huge, really.

This year’s BEA is Wednesday, May 27th to Friday, May 29th at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City.

For more information about all of this year’s happenings at BEA, go to

A bit of book trivia …

The first book club in the United States was the Book-of-the-Month Club, founded in 1926.

“How can I get started in speechwriting?”

This week I received an email from a talented 24-year-old writer who wants to break into speechwriting.  She’s transitioning out of TV and into a graduate creative nonfiction program.

She has great academic credentials, great writing samples, and a pleasant/professional style. In short, she sent me an email so good that it made me want to cheer her on.

How did she find out about my work? “Through a friend of a friend.” And how did I happen to meet that distant “friend” many years ago? Through an IABC meeting (the International Association of Business Communicators).  

I mention this “friend of a friend” concept because it’s important. The people you meet at professional meetings and conferences can help shape your career for years – decades – to come. Attend as many programs as possible.

If you’re fresh out of college and don’t have much of a budget, that’s okay. You don’t have to join all of these professional groups. You just have to attend some of their meetings … and while you’re there, network/network/network.

All the people you meet? Connect with them on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter. Post good material. Retweet helpful stuff. Like something that catches your interest. Write in a fresh/clean style. You will get noticed.

When I was first getting started as a speechwriter in New York City, a wonderful mentor taught me the difference between a would-be speechwriter and a working speechwriter. That difference? “Just one speech assignment.”

Get out there and let people see how good you write. Those speech assignments will come.



Public speaking news from Barcelona


Alba Editorial has announced that the Spanish edition of How To Write & Give A Speech (with translation by Elena Bernardo of Madrid) is now available electronically. Spanish-speaking speechwriters, executives, Q&A participants, panelists, moderators and presenters can learn more about Cómo escribir y pronunciar un discurso [Versión Kindle] at:

How to grow your small business by giving speeches

If you’re an entrepreneur, a consultant, an accountant, a small business owner, a freelance writer/artist (or an aspiring freelance writer/artist) … consider tapping the power of public speaking to build your business.

Robert Lerose, who specializes in writing about marketing, interviewed me for Bank of America’s Small Business Community on “giving speeches that help grow your business”:

From Deutsche Welle: Leipzig Book Fair, record number of visitors

Note: Whenever I travel in Germany, I am impressed by the number of bookstores. Many of them are small, but that only adds to their charm – and the stores seem busy. I have never attended the Leipzig Book Fair, but it’s on my list. Meanwhile, I’ve enjoyed reading about this year’s Fair. The following article comes from one of my favorite European news sources, Deutsche Welle. Don’t miss the last line. It’s priceless. Kudos to the Commissioner for a truly memorable and media-worthy line!

Leipzig Book Fair – Record Number of Visitors

The Leipzig book fair has come to an end, counting a new record of visitors. In Germany, books seem to be more popular than ever. And yet, there is one concern that remains.

According to organizers the Leipzig book fair welcomed 186,000 visitors, that’s 10,000 more than last year. As well as literati, important dialogues and discussions, prize-winners were also in the spotlight. During the opening of the trade fair on Wednesday evening, Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu was awarded the Leipzig Book Fair Award for European Understanding. He won the award for his Blinding trilogy. The final volume was published in German in 2014.

Bookstores threatened with extinction?

The German Publishers and Booksellers’ Association took the opportunity to discuss once again the TTIP free trade agreement at the trade fair. The association says retail prices for books are in danger, but the EU Commission says the set price ruling is not up for negotiation. Alexander Skipis, CEO of the association, however expressed fears that the set prices could fall victim to economic interests. Without set retail pricing, many bestsellers would perhaps become cheaper but books in general more expensive. Also, selling cut-price books at petrol stations would endanger many bookstores.

Monika Grütters, Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, also called on the public to seek advice from qualified staff when buying books. Consumer trends will ultimately decide whether or not local bookshops manage to survive. The commissioner would also like fixed retail pricing for books to be maintained and said books must continue to be treated differently from garden furniture or vacuum cleaner bags.

Speechwriters are anonymous … authors aren’t

When I was starting my staff speechwriting career in 1980, a top speechwriter gave me this advice: “Don’t go through life without bylines. If you can write speeches that will make prominent people look great, you can publish articles and books and op-eds that will make you look great.”

I never forgot that advice. By 1984, I had sold How To Write & Give A Speech to St. Martin’s Press and was looking forward to publishing more books. I joined the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) and kept learning about the publishing industry – meeting by meeting, conference by conference.

In April, I’ll speak at the Members Day session of the 2015 ASJA conference in New York City: “How To Get Speechwriting Assignments”. No matter where you happen to live, you can work as a speechwriter – it’s a specialty that overrides geography. And it’s high-paying. Isn’t that a wonderful combo?

The fact is: You can get great speechwriting assignments from all over the world even if you live in a small town. In speechwriting, your address doesn’t have to dictate your income. (I’ll include a few practical examples based on the work coming my way from the new Spanish edition of How To Write & Give A Speech … 

Cómo escribir y pronunciar un discurso, de Joan Detz, Alba Editorial, Barcelona

Meanwhile, if you’re interested in writing a book, I hope you find inspiration from the following item. Truth? It’s never too late to become an author. Start working on it today.

Already an author? Start working on your next book. I am.

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