So now to promoting the books. After many a thursday night listening to Steve Harrison’s teleseminars- which passed on some very worthwhile information I decided that one of the way to promote my books was to become a speaker. The other options didn’t seem to work for me-not that I tried too hard- but as I love speaking about myself this was the obvious route.

The talks were to promote my books but also, after one of my first talks, a young pupil came up to me and told me how much she loved reading and that my talk had inspired her to read more. I’ve mentioned before about the literacy levels in South Africa and even though I started out wanting to promote my books I altered my talks so to mention the importance of reading among other things which would promote reading at schools

So off I went. I started to phone schools and telling them why they should book me as a speaker. In the beginning I wasn’t charging anything but I just asked for a donation-intending it to cover costs. I expected every school to accommodate me unconditionally.

At the very beginning I didn’t use any photographs or images but soon realised that my travelling through SE Asia and capturing some interesting images would only add to visually stimulate the young audience.

It was really interesting as even though few schools were wanting me to speak I only realised after one of my talks why the bookings weren’t as many as I hoped. It was after I’d just finished a talk at a primary school in Cape Town, when I was chatting to the librarian who mentioned that the only reason they booked me was because I didn’t charge a fee and and that I only asked for a donation. She went on to mention that as I was unknown, they were very nervous about booking me and did so hoping for the best.

Then and there I realised that I needed reviews so that other schools could see what I was about.

Below are details about the two talks I started out with followed by reviews from the schools

Review :

6-9 Year olds

Time: 20 minutes

Content: I start off with a quick magic trick to get the children’s attention and to compare a magic trick to the magic of our imaginations.

I speak interactively and use stories about why it is good to read, which includes- building self confidence, learning new words, ideas and things of interest.

I talk about and show images of a recent trip I took to South East Asia where I stayed in a floating village in Vietnam. The reason I went there was because I read about these villages in a book.

I touch on reading as being exercise for the mind, and this leads into the topic of imagination. This is followed by a “fun” exercise where the pupils close their eyes, I describe a scene followed by a reading from my book which explains what our imagination is and can do. Once the pupils open their eyes, I ask them one question which shows them how easy it is for us to use our imagination.

 I conclude by explaining how powerful our imagination is and how “The Magic that’s Ours” was just a story in my head and I imagined that one day it would be a book on the shelves in bookstores…

As I’m also a travel photographer and writer I show images of a trip I took to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.


Herzlia Highlands Primary School- Book week launch 2009
This is probably one of the best launches we have ever had because Gary was able to convey the exact message that we needed to give the children – READ! READ! READ!

It is well known that children have a concentration span of about 20 mins and that is exactly how long Gary kept them riveted to their seats.

In a very matter of fact and relaxed manner as though he was having a friendly chat with the kids rather than trying to teach them something he told them all about how he had become hooked into reading and realized its importance. At the same time they were able to view his fabulous photographs of unusual places in other countries. He also gave a very strong message about setting goals for yourself and working towards realizing them.

I think we have found the ideal way of launching our annual Book week – Gary Hirson will be a regular on our programme. I have to look no further. I highly recommend him !

See you next year!

10 -13 Year Olds

Time: 30 minutes


The talk starts out the same as for the younger group…

During my travels (I am a photographer) I visited Laos where the illiteracy rate is 50%. I show images of children working in fields etc as they cannot read and write. I explain to the audience that these children really want to go to school, but can’t because of various reasons. I then compare the choices the school pupils have to the children in Laos.

I explain how powerful our imagination is and how The Magic that’s Ours was just a story in my head and I imagined that one day it would be a book on the shelves in bookstores. When I lost my publisher at the 11th hour, I decided to self publish the story I had written. On seeing my book –The Magic that’s Ours- for the first time in a book store I realised that I had achieved a very big goal. Through my experience of reaching this goal I decided to write another book –The Power that’s Ours– which is aimed at introducing my audience to the concepts of goal setting, visualisation and affirmation-which I go onto explain. I speak about my experience of reaching my goal.

I also speak about a goal I set to become a travel photographer and writer. Even though that was my goal- to write about and sell stories to magazines- I experienced much more while on my 4 month adventure through SE Asia. The images of my experiences are shown throughout my talk.

I explain that on two occasions I set specific goals and achieved so much more- two books instead of just one, and an experience of a life-time when just wanting to become a travel writer and photographer. I do mention that at times it might feel like all is not going according to plan along the journey, but the rewards of reaching a pre-set goal far outweigh the slight bumps and small deviations that might occur along the way.


Librarian, Elkanah House, Cape Town

Wow, Gary, everyone is raving about your talk!! Thank you sincerely for the wonderful inspirational talk you gave the pupils. The feedback we got from them was very positive. On behalf of Tracy, our headmistress, staff and pupils who have all asked me to convey their thanks and appreciation for your time and sound effort to get the pupils to read, which was a great success!  You successfully got them gripped!!

I think you should market books and get paid for it. At break today, the library was filled to capacity!! The staffroom was abuzz after your presentation. THANK YOU sincerely.

Now that I started getting reviews my marketing plan was about to change about which I’ll chat about later.

There are many different ways to promote yourself and your books. For some it’s internet marketing, TV and radio interviews, speaking, workshops, sponorships etc. Find out what works for you and actively pursue it.

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