by Terence Baker | January 01, 2007

John Naisbitt

John Naisbitt

On May 2005, publishing giant HarperCollins set up a speakers bureau to push its best-selling authors in front of groups; soon after, other publishers followed suit. Speaking engagements for writers represent more than just a hefty appearance fee; such appointments are excellent opportunities for authors to plug their books.

Though meeting planners won’t be getting a discount by booking through these publisher-run bureaus, publishers have more sway over the speakers than more general speaker bureaus. For example, at Penguin Speakers Bureau (, which opened up shop in June of last year, if an appearance will be good for book sales but the meeting sponsor can’t afford the speaker fee, Penguin might recommend that the literary light accept the
gig anyway.

Another reason, says Paul Bogaards, senior vice president at Knopf, which just launched the Knopf Speakers Bureau ( “We have an intimate association with the writer, often over the course of many years. We know more about their books than anyone and can recommend writers instantly and with confidence.” Of his current roster of scribes, Bogaards especially lauds Lawrence Wright, author of the critically acclaimed The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11.

Jacqueline Fischetti, director of the Penguin Speakers Bureau, recommends erudite commentator and novelist Ana Marie Cox, who started the popular Washington, D.C.-based political and society gossip blog known to insiders as “The Wonkette.” As for offerings at the HarperCollins Speakers Bureau (, director Jamie Brickhouse singles out John Naisbitt, author of the mega-selling Megatrends.