Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Setting up Civil War Round Table Speaking Engagements

This is a guest post written by Savas Beatie author Larry Tagg. We are publishing his book The Unpopular My. Lincoln in May of 2009. The author has been working to set up talks to Civil War Round Tables and has had a lot of success getting bookings so far. Below are Larry Tagg’s tips on how he set up the events.


Early on, I decided to make speaking engagements at Civil War Round Tables an important part of the publicity campaign for my book published by Savas Beatie, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln (May 2009). I looked for all the Civil War Round Tables within driving distance of my house, which in my case included the Civil War Round Tables in California, plus Las Vegas.

I am more comfortable using email than the phone (are most writers like me?), and looked around for websites that might have the email addresses of the California CWRTs. I found them at two addresses:
http://www.civilwararchive.com/RNDTABLE/webtable.htm and

These websites gave me a contact address for the dozen or so of CWRTs I was after (the first has links for CWRTs all over the country). I composed a generic request to each, with the subject line, “May I speak to your CWRT?” The text was the following:

Hi Mr. _____,

My name is Larry Tagg. I had a book out a few years ago, The Generals of Gettysburg. Some of your members might have seen me speak at the West Coast CWRT Conference at Harris Ranch back then.
I have a new book coming out, The Unpopular Mr. Lincoln, which will be published by Savas Beatie next May. I was wondering if we could set up a date next summer for me to talk about the book with the ________ CWRT.
The book tells the story of how reviled Lincoln was, even in the North, during his presidency. Although it is unequivocally pro-Lincoln, it runs against the grain of Lincoln-worship, of which we ought to be getting an earful in the Lincoln bicentennial year.
Savas Beatie has a video of me giving a talk on the book, and if you would like, I’m sure they would be glad to send you a copy. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,
Larry Tagg

I received uniformly affirmative replies from the chairmen of the CWRTs, telling me when their CWRT met—usually a Wednesday evening once a month, but sometimes a Tuesday or Thursday. I kept a careful log of the replies, and made a folder of the CWRTs in my email “Contacts.” I committed to speaking engagements on a first-come-first-serve basis, although I tried to schedule the southern California ones—the ones farthest from my Sacramento home—so that I could do a “swing” and schedule a couple in the same week.

The one problem with this method was that the contact address listed in the online links above was obsolete for some CWRTs. In all cases, the persons I initially contacted emailed me the correct, current contact. If you would like to get a current list of the contacts for California CWRTs, you may email me at larryrtagg@yahoo.com and I will email you a current list, for a small percentage of your book sales. Ha ha, just kidding.


Jim Schmidt said...

Thanks for the great post about CWRT engagements. I've actually been doing the same for my own recently publishe dbook, "Lincoln's Labels," (www.lincolnslabels.com), but the best tip I got from this post was to be better at tracking my correspondence, etc.

One piece of advice I would add is to PLAN AHEAD or be preapred to wait 12-18 months for a chance to speak.

Many of the CWRTs plan and book their speakers well in advance. Many are now already planning their 2009-2010 schedule.

Another piece of advice is not to be afraid to engage in "shameless elf-promotion" or "inviting yourself"...it definitely comes with the territory of being an author these days.

Even when I have ben turned down for a speaking engagement, all the correspondence has been very polite, and they have often offered to put a plug for my book in the CWRT newsletter.

A final thought - especially if you are within a short drive - is to offer yourself as a replacement speaker on short notice...planes get cancelled, weather gets bad, etc., and some CWRTs find themselves without a speaker and not much time to arrange for one.

Sarah - Keep up the GREAT WORK on the blog, and best wishes for success to you, Larry.

All My Best,

Jim Schmidt

Sarah Keeney said...

Hi Jim,

Thanks, and good advice as well.

Your website for your book looks nice with your book's cover.