Tuesday, January 19, 2010


One of the first responses I get when I suggest to authors that they should try public speaking is, "But, what would I talk about?"

To find topics you must think outside the book or article that you are promoting. I listened to a presentation given by William P Young, author of the mega-bestseller, The Shack. He told about the process of writing his book and the incredible events that caused it to soar to be a best seller. Below is the description on the back of the book:

Mackenzie Allen Phillips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant, "The Shack" wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" 

The story of The Shack lends itself to a lot of topics to many different groups. Let's explore a few possible topics:

  • Protecting our children against abduction. This talk can be given to parent groups like the PTA, clubs, churches. In it the story of Mackenzie and his grief can be woven into all throughout.
  • Dealing with Depression and Guilt. Mr. Young did a beautiful job sharing his journey through his great sadness and how he overcame it.
  • The stereotypes of God. Mr. Young shares who God is to him. 
I am currently working on a novel about a young girl going to the gold fields to find her father. Some topics I can speak on are:
  • Women in the Gold Rush 
  • Medicines used by the pioneers
  • What's on the menu for campfire dinners
  • The strange and rushed relationships 
All the above could be given to any writer, women's group, historical societies, or school. And all the while I will refer back to my book. This same thing can be done with articles. 

Take a look at your work and make a list of all the different topics you find and groups who would be interested in your subject. I think you will be surprised at all you have to talk about!