Each January, or sometimes even late the previous year, I look at my list of speaking engagements and/or book promotion events for the year ahead and usually find I need more. So what to do? Should I wait and pray and leave it to God to prompt people to contact me? Should I instead be more proactive and think of places where I can offer myself as a speaker? Or is it a matter of combining these two approaches?
Now I know from past experience that God has amazing ways of bringing speaking engagements to me I would never have imagined could happen. For example, a couple of years ago, I received an email from a friend, tentatively asking if I would be available to speak at their church’s women’s retreat. She had been idly chatting with her minister’s wife, as they sat watching their respective sons play soccer, when this lady asked her out of the blue if she knew anyone who might speak at their upcoming retreat. My friend suggested me, despite the fact we had not seen each other for several years and were now in different church denominations. The minister’s wife soon contacted me and, after a few emails and phone calls and a meeting with the retreat committee, we were off and running. It was a special weekend, and, as my friend and I drove home together, we marvelled at the way God had brought it all together.
But I also know from past experience how people often need speakers but don’t quite know whom to contact. So I decided some years back to take the risk of emailing various groups to tell them a bit about myself and my writing journey and let them know I am available to speak. In my email, I always try not to be too pushy. I merely offer myself in what I hope is humility and accept their response. Often I never hear back. Sometimes I receive an email that says something along the lines of ‘Thanks for contacting us. We have organised our speakers for the year but will keep you in mind for next year.’ But sometimes I receive a much more positive response where some lovely person tells me more about their group and asks when I would be available—or even a relieved phone call to organise a date and to thank me for emailing!
So this year, I once again prayed hard, then plunged into writing emails to all sorts of places. I was well aware of the danger of doing things in my own strength. But as I prayed, I sensed God was encouraging me to be proactive and put myself out there once again. Now the time has come to wait and to keep praying—and writing my next book! So far, four groups have invited me to speak, but that is only a small percentage of those I contacted. Will there be more? I don’t know. But I know I have done my best, believing God was leading me as I did.
Is this the way you would go about such things yourself, as a published author? People are different, I am aware, but I would be interested to hear your responses.
Jo-Anne Berthelsen lives in Sydney but grew up in Brisbane. She holds degrees in Arts and Theology and has worked as a high school teacher, editor and secretary, as well as in local church ministry. Jo-Anne is passionate about touching hearts and lives through both the written and spoken word. She is the author of six published novels and one non-fiction work, Soul Friend: the story of a shared spiritual journey. Jo-Anne is married to a retired minister and has three grown-up children and four grandchildren. For more information, please visit www.jo-anneberthelsen.com.