Finding Guest Speakers

Running a writing club is a bit of work, especially when it’s you who has to put together a half hour presentation each month. One of the best ways to relieve some of the burden and also add some variety to your meetings is to have guest speakers.

For a fiction writing critique group, perhaps the best source of guest speakers is local authors. In order to find some published authors in your area, you’ll want to do some networking within the local writing community. Start by reviewing the websites of other writing groups around where you live. Find out what their upcoming activities and events are. Visit some of these other groups and attend some events.

One thing that published authors really want to do is promote their books. Invite an author to give a presentation at your writing club. Let them know that they can also promote their book and bring a few copies to sell.

Let your members know who’s coming to speak and that they may want to bring some money in the event they want to buy a copy of the author’s book.

A word of caution on no-shows.

At the writing club that my wife and I lead, we invite club members to give presentations. The problem, however, is that on several occasions we’ve had a member agree to present at our next meeting, but then the day before or the day of the meeting, they email to tell us they can’t make it. This happened so frequently that we became suspicious it was actually a fear of speaking in front of people.

The way we overcome this is to prepare a presentation. If the person is a no-show, we can give a presentation ourselves. If the person does show up, we save the presentation we prepared for another meeting.

Guest speakers don’t necessarily have to give presentations on the craft of fiction writing. We once had a former police officer who had published a few murder mystery novels give a presentation on investigating murders. We had another author who had written a novel about the aftermath of a tornado give a presentation on tornado chasers.

While it’s important to stay on topic (which in general will be the craft of fiction writing), it’s okay to allow guest speakers to present on the things they know about. Who knows, you may have a murder mystery writer in your group, or even someone writing a story about storm chasers.

Photo credit: flickr Creative Commons, San José Library Author Visit: Michelle Richmond