Diary of a Speakers' Agent

In the Go Figure Department:
12 Astonishing Things I've Observed When I've Represented Speakers

1. The speakers who are the most demanding and act like Prima Donnas are most often those who have no paid speaking experience.

2. The speakers with the highest fees are usually the most professional and easiest to work with.

3. Many authors don't want to be paid to speak even if there's money available to pay them.

4. Many speakers expect a speaker agent to act as a free book publicist as well.

5. Many publishers don't want their authors to have a speaker agent even though it means contracts for advance orders for quantity book sales.

6. Many speakers would rather sign with speaker bureaus – whose loyalty is not to speakers, but to the event organizer – and pay a 25-30% commission; instead of an agent who is loyal to them and receives only a 15% commission.

7. Many publishers tell me they don't think their authors would be able to earn more than a few hundred dollars per talk.

8. Many speakers can't articulate what their primary expertise is in one sentence.

9. Many speakers would rather have a presentation cancel on them and lose the fee than have an agent write an iron-clad agreement for them and pay a 15% commission.

10. Many speakers leave money on the table by quoting a lower fee than the event organizer is willing to pay them.

11. Many speakers won't give an agent a 15% commission even if the agent can get them fees that are 50 to 80% higher.

12. Some authors' publicists have turned down a well-paying speaking engagement for their author without even discussing the details of the opportunity with them.

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Even if you decide you're not ready to have agent representation, you may want to invest in having me
critique your speaking contract. Send me a copy of your current speaking contract. AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com

If I can show you multiple ways to improve your agreement, your next engagement should bring you additional earnings that will exceed my fee.

And if you're a speaker considering representation by a speaker agent or bureau, my $16 report,
The $30,000 an Hour Speaker, will help you decide. You can also read the Agency FAQ on this site.

Are you "full of yourself"?

Or, as we older folks use to say: Are you "too big for your 'britches'"?

After observing author-speaker-coaches over my 39 years in professional practice, I've decided there are certain behaviors of people that I should not serve.

Here, however, is a list of behaviors of people I prefer to work with:

1. You treat others (and me) with respect.

2. You keep your word.

3. You answer my questions – asked in an effort to assist you.

4. You exhibit good manners.

5. You say thank you when I spend time giving you free advice.

6. You reply in a timely manner when time matters.

7. You reply quickly when I prepare a written proposal for you.

8. You treat me as your professional equal and not as a subordinate.

9. You speak up on behalf of people who are being bullied in your presence.

And when I say, "work with" that also means I will be more amenable to refer business or clients to you and give you a glowing recommendation.

Remember, you may have five years' experience as a speaker- author - coach, but I have 49 years' experience as a professional (paid) speaker and 39 years' experience as an independent consultant advising high-profile individuals.

I may have been speaking and consulting since before you were born, so I deserve to be treated with a degree of respect for having been a pioneer in the field you may have entered long after me.

Outrageous Requests I've Received

I get these kinds of requests on a fairly frequent basis so I should not be surprised when I receive them. But I am, and even if I mention to a potential client early in a conversation that I turn down requests such as the following... that person may still make an identical request.

The following are real requests (in
bold) I've received; my silent thoughts in parentheses.

1. If you'll market my humor column I'll give you 10% of whatever payment you can get me... but if you fail to sell my column then I'll know you aren't any good.
(It couldn't possibly be that your column isn't marketable, could it? If it were any good, you'd be receiving payment already from the college newspaper which has published it for free for a year, wouldn't you?) I don't accept these offers.

2. So that I don't have to pay you a consulting fee would you find a mentor for me in my hometown that will do what you do, but for nothing?
(Yeah, sure, I'm going to embarrass myself by seeking out someone I don't know to ask them to work for free... not to mention work against my own best interests by encouraging you not to hire me.) No.

3. My business is on the same street as yours and I want to start a speaker agency like yours. Would you share with me your business plan for your speaker agency?
(Sure, I'll hand over almost 18 years' experience earned by trial-and-error, deny myself the $2,500 I usually charge for writing business plans, and forego the $5,000 fee I charge for a 9 month
speaker agent apprenticeship.... so you can compete with me for business.) No.

4. Could I pick your brain over a cup of coffee about how to market myself?
(Tell you what... Throw in a
lunch at a nice restaurant and $600 and I'll answer your marketing, promotion and money questions for 90 minutes.)

5. Why do you have to charge for your advice, your writing and your books? You're so greedy. Why can't you just give people what they want for free out of the goodness of your heart?
(I guess I'm like this because I didn't take a vow of poverty... and I can't convince my mortgage lender to let me live free-of-charge out of the goodness of his heart. Besides, the more money I make, the more I can tithe to my foundation which helps the Hidden Homeless. And the best thing I can do for the hidden homeless is not be one of them.)

6. (A colleague received this request and sent it to me) After you finish writing your book, I want you to write my book. I had terrible things happen to me as a child.
(No reference to compensation, money for marketing his book. Is he expecting I'll write his book for free?)

If you're a consultant who receives outrageous requests and you feel like sharing (venting) them with me, use my feedback form and send them along. I'll post them anonymously if you prefer and we can have a good laugh together.

How to sell your (unwanted) web site for needed cash

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2016; From the archives: July 29, 2010

Eight years ago, when I needed to sell my second mobile home and realtors were only complicating my life, I created a web site to advertise it myself. I found a domain name that clearly defined the site’s purpose. I’d already sold my first mobile home without a realtor in 6 days, so I had some credibility.

I posted a long, bulleted description of my home, a list of contents I could include in the sale, a dozen color photos of the interior and exterior, a map of the area, directions to the front door, the price, and what it would cost to live there.


To add more content I posted other mobile homes for-sale-by-owner in my neighborhood for a small fee. If someone wanted to buy nearby, but didn’t want my home, I figured I’d help others who wanted to sell their mobile homes. Then I started receiving payments from mobile home owners in other states who wanted me to advertise their homes. Suddenly I was operating a business.

I discovered most sellers didn’t know how to market their homes as well as I did to entice buyers to make an offer. How could I help them? I created two digital products to sell: a booklet of 120 tips I used to sell my first mobile home in 6 days, and a set of purchase agreement forms to sign when a verbal offer came in. People started buying them.

Once my home sold and I didn’t need the website, I decided to sell. I held out a year for a reasonable price and received an offer for more than I expected. This turnkey operation included the right to sell my two digital products in perpetuity, but I kept affiliate and resell rights. I won’t say what the selling price was, but it was enough to cover my truck payments for 18 months.

Do you have a no-longer-needed web site you could sell?

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Money blogger Andrea Reynolds took back the website she sold (BuyMyMobileHome.org) and is offering it for sale again along with licensing rights to her booklet, Sell Your Mobile Home in 60 Days or Less. Make her an offer: crisiswriter@gmail.com

Want to republish/reprint this blog post? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

Your comment/feedback? AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com

Earn money from your blog with tips booklets

© Andrea Reynolds 2009-2016; From the archives: August 1, 2010

Unless you’re Marcus Frind, creator-owner of the dating site, PlentyofFish.com, you probably won’t receive million dollar checks from Google Adsense, as he does. (Source: Interview, CBC TV’s “The Hour,” 4/8/09.) A better bet would be to write something once and sell it many times to many blog readers for a reasonable price.


Think about a subject you’re passionate about and know a great deal about. Then sit down and write 100 or more tips on that subject. Each tip should be no more than 3 sentences, preferably only one sentence, and should start with a verb.

Here’s an example of a tip from my report, “
33 Amenities Speakers Deserve”: Advise your speakers right away of significant program changes and additions: times, audience numbers, location, other speakers who may possibly speak on a similar subject. To arrive at an empty hall or follow another speaker who has just delivered her speech is a speaker’s nightmare!

A simple kitchen tip might be:
Turn nearly-empty salad dressing bottles upside- down in the fridge so the contents will be easier to access the next time. Having the bottle neck at the bottom may also allow you to cram one more item into the fridge door shelf.

Brainstorm 100 or so tips on one specific subject, separate them under sub-headings, add an introduction and some wrap-up remarks, include a bio with your qualifications for writing this booklet and your contact information. Get someone to proofread your booklet, and if necessary, have an editor make the copy sing.

Now you’re an author. Price your new information product somewhere between $5 and $12, and post a description of it on your blog’s sidebar. If your readers like your blog they may buy your booklet, too. Later you may want to write a sequel or even a series of booklets on the same subject.

Comments? crisiswriter@gmail.com

Andrea Reynolds has been a professional writer and editor for more than 3.5 decades. The author of numerous tips booklets herself, she has been known to take clients’ handwritten manuscripts and turn them into tips booklets for them… when asked, and paid. See her rates for editing here: http://www.bitangobooks.com/editing.html

Want to republish/reprint this blog post or any other one? First let's talk about a licensing agreement. I'm a professional writer and I sell my writing.

Your comment/feedback? AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com

Are you a Slowpoke Speaker?

First published Sept. 27, 2014.

Meeting planners have told me that their biggest headache with speakers they want to book is the slowness with which speakers respond with necessary information. This is self-defeating behavior.

On the day I receive an invitation to speak I will work all that day, if necessary, to get any requested info to a meeting planner by 4-5 PM that day. Or if I receive the request late in the day I will work late into the night so that the requested info is waiting in the meeting planner's inbox by morning. I respect money and several thousand dollars is nothing to sneeze at.  So I will do what it takes to be the most professional speaker I can be.

Not so, it seems, with some other speakers. If you didn't know this about me already: 
Sometimes I test clients and speakers to see if they are made of the Right Stuff. 

When I started a speaker bureau and then a speaker agency (there is a difference), I accepted a few speakers with no listing fee. Perhaps 50% never sent their information for me to post. And nine out of ten of the remaining speakers took months to send me anything... but usually only enough to fill a half-page. (Two full pages was normal for my web sites.)

If I were a speaker who wanted to be profiled and represented by my then speaker agency, 
Andrea Reynolds International Speaker Agency (ARISA), I would send everything requested within 24 hours.... even if I didn't have all the money at that moment to pay for the listing.

I'd be thinking: "OK, what if Andrea receives a request for a speaking engagement that I would be perfect for? If she doesn't have any info on file about me, she can't recommend me. If I get what I have to her now she will see that I'm a go-getter."

But sadly, when a meeting planner asks me how fast a certain speaker responds to my requests I have to refer to my notes and tell the truth. If a speaker is pokey with me (as in slow-poke), they will be pokey with meeting planners, too, and that's not good for business, 
your business.

So do yourself a favor. Learn to respond faster. I'm not going to be your mother and nag you. You're an adult and capable of motivating yourself. And if you're not feeling motivated, then please don't bill yourself as a motivational speaker!

If speakers had believed they had the Right Stuff to be represented by my speaker agency, they needed to show me. 

If you think you have the right stuff as a speaker, my Speaker's Promotion Kit will show you the kinds of information meeting planner wants to receive from you.

Your comment/feedback?

"But I'll make you rich!"

That was the protest I received when I said no.

I'm often asked by new, unknown (non-working) speakers if I will make them famous and sought-after speakers by marketing and promoting them in year-long campaigns... on a commission, not fee-basis. Often I must explain regularly that my primary work for several decades was providing extensive campaigns, at very large fees, and that negotiating speaker contracts began simply as a bonus service to high-paying public relations clients.

One woman – like many others – said if I would spend a year of my life marketing her full-time and guarantee that she would earn $400,000 as a result of my efforts, she would see to it that I got "some kind of financial reward at the end of the year."

Here was a young woman, half my age, who wasn't earning any money but had a working husband, had no following, couldn't articulate what her expertise or message was, and had very unrealistic expectations of what she deserved in life. I found her proposal insulting; she expected me to subsidize her at my expense when I had already accomplished for myself with hard work what she wanted me to accomplish for her without her effort or financial compensation.

So, I answered her in a way that was not very kind, but the message finally did sink in.

I said, "I would be happy to give up a year of my life with no income to make you rich and famous. Here's what I will expect of you. I will need you to send me the titles to your cars and deed to your house as collateral. Also, I will need you to send me the keys to your house, as I will be moving in with you and your family for the year, rent-free. I expect a large, clean, well-appointed room of my own with private ensuite bath. You will provide all amenities such as private phone, cable TV, and high-speed Internet. Plus, I require three home-cooked meals a day for me and my cats. When I want to go somewhere I will expect you to stop what you're doing and drive me. I will also require access to all your bank accounts so I can monitor how much income you are receiving as a result of my efforts so I can determine my commission accurately. My commission will be 60% of all your household income. And you must follow all of my advice, to the letter. Agreed?"

I never heard from her again. I was OK with that.

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Be your own speaker agent. Order my PDF report, 33 Amenities Speakers Deserve and Ought to Include in Their Speaker Agreements.

Your comment/feedback? AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com

Are you overtweeting?

From the archives: Sunday, June 20, 2010

If you want your Tweets on Twitter to be read, limit them to a few useful ones a day. Send a hundred a day and you will only overwhelm your followers.

One person I followed sent more than 700 tweets in one 24 hour day. I actually counted so I couldn't be accused of exaggerating. She was retweeting every single tweet she received and all the retweets. Who has that much time? I unfollowed her.

I like to follow people who tweet a few times a day and who give me great ideas or make me chuckle. I actually LOOK for those Twitterer's tweets.

Some people send only self-serving updates. Daily boasting doesn't impress me. My life is not enhanced by knowing your speaking schedule. Are you thinking that I will fly to each of your destinations to see you?

Me? I don't tweet every day. When I do I probably don't tweet more than 5 times in a day, maybe 2 tweets or 2 retweets. I want you to look forward to my tweets, not skip over them... or worse, unfollow me.

You can follow me on Twitter:

Your comment/feedback? AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com

7 ways to kill a publishing deal

First published Sept. 27, 2014
© Copyright Andrea Reynolds 2012-2014 All rights reserved.

You may know that a few years ago I launched the second book publishing company in my career:
Bitango Books. After both parents passed away in 2011, my mother’s copyrights to her two successful books passed to me, as did her unpublished manuscript for a “racy” novel, as well as my father’s letters home from the Pacific in World War II. So I thought it made sense for me to create a new publishing vehicle for their works, my own future books, and works of other nonfiction authors.

I brought to the table 4 critical skills:

a) The ability to successfully fund publishing projects from angel investors before the book is written (3 times),

b) My 33 years’ experience marketing authors and their books in the national/international press and media,

c) My 12 years of editing books for other authors, and

d) My 21 years’ experience representing and negotiating better contracts for speakers (fees, amenities and terms).

I self-published my first book in 1982 so I think my qualifications speak for themselves.

My publishing company was somewhat unconventional. (Bitango means rogue or gypsy.) I offered a small advance against bigger royalties than most traditional publishers and offered contracts that are fair to authors. (I’m a member of the National Writers Union myself.) Not only did I offer to advocate for authors as paid speakers, but I also offered to create a free-standing web site for each author on which to promote their book.

In return I wanted to see authors make an effort. So when they did some of the following, I had to believe they were standing in their own way and could be difficult to work with... or were “high maintenance.”

Here are some behaviors I saw that will turn a publisher off:

1. Don’t have a body of written and published work that can be easily accessed. Publishers need to see that you can write well consistently and that others have deemed you publishable.

2. Don’t send a copy of the manuscript when a publisher has invited you to send it for consideration. How else can we evaluate your book and offer you a contract?

3. Don’t tell us your web site address, Twitter name, or Facebook link. Keep them secret so we can’t follow and friend you.

4. Don’t tell us the size of your manuscript so we know how big or small it is in words or pages.

5. Say, “No thanks, I want to secure an agent first” when we say we’d like to see your manuscript. The point of having an agent is to get publishers to ask to see your manuscript. You got us to do that, why reject the invitation?

6. Don’t have a written marketing plan for your book. If you don’t have an inkling as to how to get your book into reader’s hands how will a publisher know you have written a book that is marketable to your audience?

7. Don’t trust the publisher’s expertise and experience. Some authors have submitted manuscripts for which they have paid dearly for very bad editing, ugly cover design, and a messy layout and insist we not change anything prior to publication. And, if a manuscript gets the message across in 50,000 words, why insist on publishing 90,000 words?

These seven behaviors and others seem to be prevalent among new authors. At first I thought perhaps I should think about teaching seminars and offering one-on-one (paid) consultations for new authors to stop them from getting in the way of their own book publishing success.

Think like a publisher. Authors, the less you do to provide what a publisher needs to know, the smaller the advance and the lower the royalty payment. And the reverse is true: the more you provide to a publisher, the greater the possibility of a signed contract, larger advance, faster publication and larger royalty.

Update: When, after first posting this, author behavior didn't improve I decided to close Bitango Books to new authors. The four domain names I purchased are now for sale. If you want to start your own publishing company or bookstore, I'll even rebuild a website for you. Make me an offer. No reasonable offer refused.

Your comment/feedback? AndreaReynoldsPR@gmail.com