Adding author events to your book marketing arsenal is a great way to build your local fan base and plant seeds for future sales and long-term support.
Check out our posts on prepping and pitching events and unique venues, then use the below checklist to ensure you’re covered and ready to entertain the crowds!
Events Require (You Guessed It) Book Marketing
Don’t expect the store to promote you. Be proactive and the store will really appreciate it.
Send a confirmation email to the bookstore or event location a few weeks in advance. No doubt the location already had this in their calendar, but it makes you look professional and on top of your game.
Confirm how books will be handled. If you’re doing a non-bookstore event, check to be sure how you’ll get books to them. Are they ordering them? Ask if they need ordering information. If it’s a bookstore you won’t have to worry about this, but non-bookstore venues may need a bit more help.
Share with EVERYONE!
Ask for their media list. Most venues will notify the local newspapers, but let the store know you want to help out.
Begin contacting local media. Some of the online event calendars need to be submitted a few weeks out – sometimes longer.
Post an event on Facebook, invite your network, and be sure to tag the venue if they have a social media presence. You should know how to do this from your other book marketing strategies, like promoting a new release!
Post an event on Goodreads and invite your network. Sure, many aren’t local but you never know how these things can grow.
Send an email to all your personal and professional contacts, be sure to encourage them to forward and share event information. This is another book marketing basic that you should be very comfortable with.
Before the Event
Get bookmarks and/or postcards printed. Be sure to have the location, date and time on these if making them specifically for the event.
If the bookstore or venue has agreed to let you put up signage or even banner stands, get that printed. Will you be doing doing multiple events? Get a few printed but ask the printing company to leave a blank space at the bottom so you can fill the location, date and time.
You’ll want to get custom-order items in right away so you don’t have to pay for expedited shipping.
Remember, a busy table with lots of “stuff” on it is enticing, people get curious, give them another reason to come over.
What to Bring to Your Event
As event day approaches, you may also want to consider what to bring day of!
Hand bookmarks out. 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. Personal connections are powerful.
Postcard-sized handouts can also be fun but you don’t really need postcards AND bookmarks. Consider which may be more appropriate to your event and, potentially to your book. Generally if you have a non-fiction book and a business or consulting practice tied to the book, a postcard will give you more space to promote your business.
Whether it’s chocolate or some other food that specifically ties into your book, snacks tend to keep people lingering at your table. This is particularly good if you aren’t doing a Q&A or a presentation of some sort.
Always have a reason for them to leave their email. If you don’t have a strong newsletter (generally this works better for non-fiction) then consider doing a drawing for a gift card to the store. Plan to write everyone individually post-event and thank them for showing up!
During Your Signing
Don’t sit down unless you have to. If you’re doing a talk, be sure to greet folks as they come in and sit down. Even if you’re not doing a talk move around your table and spark up conversations, invite people over for a piece of chocolate.
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.Really!
Remember to ask people to sign up for your newsletter or enter your drawing.
If there are books left over, let the bookstore manager know you’d like to sign them. People may miss your signing but can get a copy of your signed book anyway. This is an excellent book marketing strategy that you can expand on, leave a signed book or two at different places in town, like your salon or barber, your favorite coffee shop, etc.
Don’t feel confined to the signing time; feel free to stay longer if people are still showing up. I can assure you the venue won’t care unless they’re trying to close for the evening.
After Your Signing
Send a thank you note to the person in charge of coordinating your event. Don’t send an e-mail. Send a handwritten note. It will go a lot further!
Write anyone who signed up for your newsletter or entered your contest, thank them for stopping by and encourage them to find you on social media as well.
Book marketing isn’t just about slapping people in the face with your brand and product, it’s about personal connections, make them whenever you can. Readers who feel connected to you are more apt to buy.
Events are fantastic ways to spread the message about your book, build a loyal fan base and get in the habit of speaking in front of crowds.
They’re also a really dynamic piece of your book marketing plan. Think about it, you probably do a lot of online book marketing, but how much do you really do in person, with real people?
Your first event may be amazing, or it may just be so-so, either way, keep trying to plan more of them, try to get some in unique venues. Local book marketing is surging for a lot of indie authors so get on board the success train!