How to navigate the ups and downs of being a paid speaker and a self-published author

It’s pretty f***ing hard and exhilarating to be a writer and speaker, like yours truly.

As you can imagine, the amazing, exhilarating feelings that boost the ego tied to having your name and works in print are exponential. As are the moments when you can see the audience is mesmerized and hangs on to your every word and message which you know is going to do wonders for their lives in some aspect or another.

To be a best selling author and a speaker of some influence – at least in your pond to begin with – is akin to being like a celebrity:  Many people want your seemingly cool and glamorous life that they see, signing copies of your own books at events, fielding questions from a captivated audience after you’ve delivered a kickass 45-minute speech.


But the struggles behind the scenes are real, folks!  Let me break it down for you.

Being a nonfiction author with 4 – no, make that soon to be 5 by end of September – titles under my belt with no literary agency representation means I’m hustling on my own.  Hard, and constantly. I’m switching between wearing no fewer than five hats on any given day, such as:


  • Managing hiccups, delays and communication gaps with my subcontractors (e.g. cover designers, editors, formatters, printers, distributors) which puts a crank in my book launch timeline. This one alone makes me want to pull my hair out.
  • I’m managing my own author branding and marketing.  That means I’m doing my own social media posts and I would have to make hard choices on running ads or not and with what frequency to run them (Facebook, Instagram, Amazon, Goodreads) and what budget I’d allow for the ads because each ad investment is a crap shoot until book sales start cha-chin’ing.  I have to do my own email marketing and walk a fine line between not bombarding my email list of audience who knows me with too many correspondences and telling them about my books and speaking events coming up; and more importantly, learning how to convert emails to paid business either in books purchased or them coming to my events to pack the room which makes me and the event organizer happy.
  • Pitching and working with media:  Booking some of my own book signing events when a new title comes out, trying to book interviews with podcasters and other media folks whose audience will benefit from one of my released titles.  Etc. etc etc. The marketing is a full time job in and of itself, so I’m not only doing my zone of genius but I’m also having to so things that are not exactly my zones of genius just to market myself and my books.

Being a speaker means:


  • I have to do research – a lot of research – on places and events where I could speak given my topics of having a self-publishing expertise, confidence mastery, and goal crushing.  
  • If a contact says “Hmmm..interesting. Tell me more” the courting process extends and then I’m involved in with a lot of back and forth communication with what their event needs in a speaker, what my speaking rider involves, the compensation plan, what I may or may not offer to their audience.  In other words, minutia and negotiation come into play and there goes several weeks of my life with the back and forth. And this process requires a lot of finesse which is something I’m still working on.
  • Getting to and from the event where I speak and making sure the time in delivering the speech and the commuting makes sense financial-wise; and if doesn’t, I’d have to make a decision if this seed is worth sowing because it may or may not lead to more fruitful opportunities. And sometimes, you JUST DON’T KNOW.

In short, there are a lot of nuances and struggles in trying to make it as an author and speaker.


So why do I do it?  I could have kept my semi-cushy, highly dependable ad agency job from my 20s and could probably have been an account supervisor with a corner office for some high end clients by now.  I could have also maintained my full time job as an ESL teacher to college students and have – ready for the big, magical words? – healthcare and retirement pension benefits. Why did I say Sayonara! to those?

It’s the FEELS, people!   Insofar as work, nothing has made ME FEEL more amazing than being a published author and a speaker.  I FEEL that way because of what my readers and audience tell me how my books and speeches have impacted them.  When they tell me that one of my books – say Badassery 101: Ten Secrets to be the Confident Boss of Your Life (my newest book, now on Amazon, shameless plug, of course) – has given them the asskickery they needed to superboost their self confidence, they glow and I glow with them!  When they tell me that my seminar on the pitfalls and rewards on self publishing is the best presentation they’ve heard in a long time, their being motivated is MY motivation to keep going.  When my readers thank me for sharing and telling it like it is all the modern day issues that elementary school families face in my book How to Survive Elementary School, I feel giddy and thankful with them for recognizing their own experiences in mine and my kids’.  

The fact that my readers and audience show me what I do has made a positive difference for them makes all my hair-pulling out worth it (good thing I still have a lot of hair on my scalp left!).  All these feels were not something I remotely felt working in account management in ad agencies so many moons ago. So what if a commercial I worked on won a Clio? So what if 25 million people saw a print ad I helped push around to make it appear in a magazine?  I had quite a bit of these feels being an ESL teacher, especially when I see students move on to be better in pursuing their academic or life goals as a result of acquiring more language skills.

But still, the feels weren’t as powerful as when I know my impact as an author and speaker.

The “So, what?” is tangible and worthwhile in me changing the world even with one reader or one audience member at a time, via the messages I give in the books and the speeches. And this is why I chug on, blood, tears, sweat and all (okay, maybe not blood, but you get me).

So what can YOU do as you perhaps also struggle with some of the things I have shared?   Keep in mind and heart the following:

  • Do what you really love.  I write and speak about things I love or believe in or at least things I’m very curious about, enough to do a hell of a lot of research.  People can FEEL my passion and conviction behind my messages and they either come with me for the ride or they don’t. So many people in my industry have said, Oh, YA with sci-fantasy is so hot right now. You should write about that!  I’m sitting here with a big “No, thanks!” on my forehead because I’m not into that. Just. Do. You.
  • Prioritize time and money.  Of course, I spend time to first put out fires as they unexpectedly happen and I have to roll with them.  But for the norm – if there’s such a thing as a norm in a writer/speaker’s life, I make a list of certain tasks and the amount of time each I have to accomplish each day and what weekly and monthly goals they translate to.  For example, I will schedule a certain amount of time to plan the weekly book social media stuff (e.g. an hour) and I MOVE ON. I answer emails in batches so they are answered in a 6-hour window and I reserve immediate responses to my book publishing vendors because my books are priority #1, seconded by corresponding with media personas that I will work within promoting my books.  I allocate a certain amount of budget to promote my new book via Amazon ads campaign and boost certain posts in Instagram.
  • Actually work!  My zones of genius (writing/editing and crafting and delivering my speeches) and the relevant types of work to my genius (e.g. email communication with my book publicist, with conference organizers for my speaking, with my publishing subcontractors) deserve MOST of my time.  That means I try not get sucked into unimportant stuff, like tons of Facebook groups and Instagram videos trying to grab my attention. My work – and your work – needs to get done first before we get hypnotized by social media lala land that makes little difference to the work at hand.  In other words, DON’T GET DISTRACTED!


So rock on with your badass self on your entrepreneurial journey as I do with mine.  Remember that everything worthwhile is hair-pullingly hard, but you know what to do. Just f***ing do it.

About the Author

Roseanney Liu

Roseanney Liu is the best selling author behind You did WHAT now?! (2017) and How to Survive Elementary School (2017). Her third book Badassery 101: 10 secrets to be the Confident Boss of Your Life was released August 2018, and her 4th and 5th books (collaborations) are due out September 2018. She is a speaker of confidence mastery & independent publishing. She inspires people to show up to pursue goals with method and resourcefulness. She’s been featured in Our South Bay magazine, Badassery Magazine, Readers’ Favorite, numerous podcasts such as Parent Pump Radio, A Lott of Help, and It’s Talk Time. An avid mountain hiker and traveler, Roseanney lives in Redondo Beach, Los Angeles with her family.

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