Book Marketing Ideas and a Checklist for Author Events

by | Aug 20, 2019 | Book Marketing Basics, Booking & Promoting Events

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I love events and my mind just starts racing with all the fantastic book marketing ideas!

But a big part of creating book marketing ideas is also ensuring they get executed, and by creating a checklist in prep for your next (or first!) author event you can be sure you’re not leaving anything critical out.

Get a Copy of the Venue’s Media List

More than likely the store or venue will send out announcements but it’s important for you to do the same. In fact, most of the book marketing ideas for your event will have to come from you, plan for the event to do nothing and you’ll be covered in a pinch. But getting their list will allow you to send reminders, and the store manager will also know that you are actively involved in promoting your event.

Send an Event Confirmation to the Venue

It will make you look professional and show the store manager that you are a professional and that you take your book signings very seriously. A sample of the form I use follows this chapter.

Contact Your Local Media

Start tapping into that media list you’ve been creating and begin contacting local media to promote your event. I generally recommend starting 4 weeks in advance, and doing another check in 2 weeks in advance.

Update Your Website and Social Media

Post your book event information on the Author Appearances or Events section of your website and on your social accounts. Get invitations made up or make them yourself and send everyone on your contact list an invitation.

Branded Swag is a Must

If you haven’t already done so, get those bookmarks and postcards printed up. And as usual, don’t forget that all your book marketing ideas need to include a special, unique hashtag, your social handles, website and a few review blurbs depending on the medium.

Get the cover of your book enlarged to poster size. Then, get it laminated and mounted. I had three of them printed up. I will usually drop one or two off at the store prior to the event so they can set them out and I’ll bring the third one with me that day.

If you have the time and the budget, get a set of colorful pens made up with the title of the book and author’s name imprinted on it then when you sign the book, give the reader the pen. It’s another great way to spread the word about your book!

Get Professional Looking Signs Made

Get signs made that say, “Book Signing Today” or “Local Author Event” because both of these will help to draw crowds to your table.

Book Marketing Ideas for the Big Day

Bookmarks are key. I try to hand these out like crazy. Sometimes I’ll even hand them out with the flyer when people enter the store. I’ve even autographed one or two when people hesitate to buy a book. More often than not, they return at a later time to buy a copy just because I gave them a bookmark.

Postcards are a fun way to spread the word. Bring postcards with your book cover on them. I always say you can never have too many marketing materials.

Chocolate is a slam dunk every time. I like to fill an attractive jar with Hershey’s kisses or some other small chocolate. Food attracts people and may even keep them lingering a bit longer.

A guest book serves as a mailing list builder. I always have people sign in at the event. If they give you their e-mail address, inquire as to whether you can add them to your mailing list. This is a great way to build a “fan club” and continue spreading the word about your book as well as future novels. If you don’t feel comfortable with a guest book, try putting together a free drawing. Tell them they don’t have to be present to win. People hate that; I know I do. I mean who wants to stick around a book signing for four hours? Well, okay, except for the author. You should do what you can to keep a log of people that purchased your book. It’s a great way to build your mailing list and customer base.

Make up a small flyer to hand to people who enter the store. They may not even know about your signing but you’ll be sure to tell them. Keep in mind that heavy promotion of your book signing does not just benefit you, it also benefits the store and sends a strong message that you know how to move your books.

Your favorite pen. Because you’ll be buzzing with energy and nerves, having something that centers you and makes you feel more, well, you, is important.

Things to Remember During Your Signing

Don’t sit down unless you have to.

Smile, talk and most of all have fun! This is no time to be shy.

If no one shows up, remember, that’s okay. It has happened to all of us at one time or another. And remember, just because no one came up and talked to you or bought your book doesn’t mean you didn’t leave an impression with them. That’s why consistently marketing to your local audience and finding ways to get involved in your community are important. It takes multiple impressions, keep making them.

Get people to enter your contest or sign your guest book.

Don’t feel confined to stay just a few hours. Stay as long as there is an interest in the book. Once, I booked a n event for two hours; I ended up staying for five.

What to do After Your Book Signing

Send a thank you note to the person in charge of coordinating your event. Don’t send an email. Send a handwritten note or drop it off and say thanks in person one more time. If you didn’t already give them a signed copy of the book, now is the time. It will go a lot further!

A Few Final Notes on Author Events

Check to see if the venue has a newsletter or is willing to offer you a guest post opportunity on their social media. If they do, offer to write a short article on your book or discussion topic that will draw more attention to your signing or provide some free content for their social that speaks to your area of expertise. Or, if your book is fiction, share an interesting excerpt from it. Always think outside the box!

Also, contact your local TV stations and speak to the producer. Call the day before (if your signing is on Sunday call them on Friday) and let him know you’ve sent a press release regarding your signing (you have, haven’t you?). If they need a 60-second filler, you can offer their viewers some helpful tips on XYZ. Or, if your book is fiction, play up the “local author makes big” angle. Local stations love that.

Speaking of media, if you can get yourself booked on a radio show the day before or preferably the morning of your signing, you’ll really help to boost interest. If you get some on-air time, consider giving away a few of your books during the show. And remember to tie your book and event into something topical and relevant!

Get your event listed on as many local calendars as possible! There’s Facebook Local, most newspapers have an event calendar online, and there are a lot of independent local “go and do” publications and social media accounts you should tap into. A lot of people use these online resources to find last minute activities and fun events so be sure you’re planned ahead to make your event really unique and fun!

Resources and Free Downloads

125 book promotion ideas to sell more books and build your brand.

Beyond the bookstore – holding events in non-traditional locations.

Free reader profile brainstorm – know your reader, plan events they’ll want to attend!



  1. Fran Fernandez

    Thanks for your helpful hints concerning book signings. However I couldn’t find the sample confirmation letter. I was looking forward to see it as I am having some book signings coming up.

    Thank you for you marketing tips and advice for writers – being new at this – they are most informative. Blessings – Fran

  2. Jerry Pozner

    Great ideas. I have been following your marketing site for a long time. Should help me sell my Novel and keep me and my publisher happy.

  3. Penny

    Hey Jerry – thanks for the note! We’d love to work with you and keep your publisher happy 🙂

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Thank you Frantz!

  4. Susan Axelrod

    wow, 8 years later this post is still helping authors-me! thank you!

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Susan, that’s fantastic! In fact, I recently updated the post here if you’d like to take a look at my latest tips. I can’t wait to hear how your book signing goes!


    That is a great tip particularly to those new to the blogosphere.
    Brief but very precise info… Thanks for sharing this one.
    A must read post!

  6. Melanie Raby

    Very helpful!!

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Thanks Melanie!

  7. Angelia Barnes

    Thank you, great tips!



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