Sometimes getting in front of your buyer may be the best way to make a sale, and while it’s become harder and harder to gain access to your reader via bookstores, there are still a lot of opportunities out there to do a book event.
- Craft & Gift/Holiday Fairs: Though we often think of Craft fairs as a holiday thing, our town has them all year long. Between Spring Festivals, Summer events, Harvest Festivals and Holiday Festivals, regional calendars listing craft and gift fairs tend to be a pretty year-round thing. The thing is that many of these places don’t book up the way they used to so if you’re just now considering this, it could be a great time to check on pricing of these events. Check your local calendar to see what’s happening in your area and what you can piggy-back on for a book event.
- Airports: Nearly each time that I’ve gone to my local airport, I’ve seen a book event or authors doing book signings and, more specifically, I noticed several book signings going on in baggage claim. It’s really quite smart. You land at your destination and realize you forgot to get a gift for someone, what better gift than a signed book, right? The author even had a fun sign that read: Did you forget a gift for someone special? Autographed books make great hostess gifts, Christmas or birthday presents! And he even had inexpensive gift bags in case the person needed one, too. Not all airports do this so contact your local airport and see what their rules are regarding this. There may be a small fee associated with it and in some cases (if you do a book signing inside the airport i.e. by the departure gates) they may tell you that they only do events with authors carried in the airport book stores.
- Events in specialty stores: When I was first in business it was nearly impossible to get authors into Barnes & Noble, let alone get them invited to do a book signing. Sadly, not much has changed in that regard. At that time I had several authors that I was working with who needed events, so I decided to venture out and try something new. I planned book events in specialty stores, coffee shops (yes, even Starbucks) and Hallmark. Hallmark in particular is a fantastic store because folks shopping there are often looking for a gift (and often last minute). I once did a book event at a Hallmark for my own book and sold out within an hour. You may have to work out a consignment deal with them, meaning they don’t buy books from your publisher but simply pay you for what’s sold. If you can pull it off it’s well worth the effort to do so. The thing about specialty stores is that you often have no competition with other authors – unlike in a bookstore. And the only barrier to this is helping the store understand how it will benefit them. Remind them that you’ll be doing some promotion around this to your local area, too.
- Coffee Houses/Restaurants: So I’ve planned events in unique places – many of them had never done a book event before I contacted them. Because of this, the idea was somewhat new. Meaning that they had no idea what I needed to pull this off. The quick response is I needed nothing, which makes it very easy for them and that’s the real key. Make it easy. When you’re doing events like this, especially in restaurants that have no prior experience, you’ll want to be ready for any objection they may have. Here are some ideas that may help you secure something in their venue:
- Slow nights/days: coffee houses and restaurants might be interested in pulling in more folks on a slow night, so offer to do an event on a Monday or some off day that may pull in additional people. When I’ve done this in restaurants we’ve done: Dinner and a Book events which means that a pre-planned menu (or menu options) comes with an autographed copy of the book. If it’s a coffee house (like a Starbucks) this likely won’t be an option.
- Buying books: it’s likely that neither of these venues will want to buy books, instead they may prefer to get books on consignment. I have had this arrangement and it’s totally fine as long as there’s an understanding of how long they keep the books after the event.
- Promoting the event: I would ask politely if the establishment can put up a sign (even a small one) or offer to let you put event-specific bookmarks at the register (or make sure the servers put them in with the check at the end of the meal. That can really help to push more eyes to your event. Other than that, you shouldn’t expect the establishment to do a lot of promotion, but if you can get this it’ll really help you get the word out.
Once you have secured your book event, make sure that you notify local media about it – this works well especially in a unique location. Whenever I’ve done events in Hallmark, Starbucks or electronics stores, the media has jumped all over this for a story. Local media is a fantastic outlet for an author looking to get more exposure. In fact we sometimes work with authors who do not care about national media, their sole focus is local, local, local. You’d be surprised how many books you can sell by saturating your local market.