In Real Life Events
Being an author is more than just writing our stories. We have to get ourselves and our books out there. A lot of that happens online, but you shouldn’t ignore events that you can do in real life. We talked about book signings last time, but let’s look at some other things you can do.
Now talks are great to do as a way to draw people to your event more so than just by your name or claim (or lack) to fame. I talked about book signings in my last post, so I won’t get too into this here.
Talks are great for advertising purposes. Instead of just saying, “Hey, come meet a local author you’ve never heard of and buy their book!” a talk says something more like, “Learn the different routes to publishing and why an ISBN is important.” Which one is going to appeal more to people? So advertise your event as a talk where they will receive valuable info from you to get them in the seats. And after you give your wonderful talk, they may just stick around to buy some books.
If you attract other writers with your talk, they may not buy your book if they are not your intended audience, but they will know your book’s name and tell others who are your audience. And they may recommend your book to those others they know who like your genre.
Book signings can be a bit intimidating. They can be a lot like cold calling in sales. You set up your table and hunker down in the store, praying to snag the attention of those walking by. For any introvert, it can be nightmarish. But they can also be a great success. Let’s look at some tips.
If this is like cold calling, get your foot in the door with some help. Have someone introduce you. Whether this is an employee who works at the store you are signing in or your handler. Having someone say something like, “Still need a Christmas present? We’ve got a local author signing personalized copies of her book. They make great gifts,” will get people to come to your table and start asking about your book. Have your pitch ready to give, and you just may get some sales.
If this is a book signing you set up that is all about you, and not just you sitting in a store or cafe, then I really recommend doing a reading before you start signing. You want to hook the people there with a great excerpt so they are chomping at the bit to buy your book.
When your book comes out, it’s something to celebrate. Planning a release party is a great way to celebrate your accomplishment, but also get your book out to family and friends. Let’s face it, a lot of the people we know are lazy. They don’t want to actually go to a website and click on things to buy your book. And they would rather have it signed and personalized by you. So make it easy for them to support you by hosting a release party where they can buy your book and get it personalized. This will incur some costs, but you have to spend money to make money. Recruit help from friends and family to diy as much as possible when it comes to things like food and decorations. Rent a hall or do a backyard bbq. Set up a signing table and a pretty place to take pictures. And get help. This event is for you, so you don’t want to be stressed making sure everything is perfect and be unable to enjoy your own party.
Conventions are a great place to sell your books. That’s a major point of them in the first place. And they are full of readers looking to pick up their next new favorite. So you can do extremely well at the right cons. Make sure you write in the genre that is represented at the con, and that you have your handler. They will help you with sales and also manning the table so you can do things like go to the bathroom. Most cons will have an estimate of how many attendees they will have, so you can get a good gauge of how many books you should carry. Have bookmarks and business cards for people to take even if they don’t buy a book. Put important links on there, like your website or where they can buy your book.
Instead of a talk, you may choose to do something like run a workshop or writing group. This requires some effort on your part as you have a lot of planning and prep and you have to lead the event. But these can be great fun and really rewarding as you help other authors out.
First, plan what your event will look like. Will you start with a talk? Then move onto writing prompts? Using writing prompts is the best way to get your participants writing. But you will also need to talk about what good critique looks like and how to take critiques like staying silent and not defending yourself. Set up rules before you begin.
Keep track of time. Give them 15 to 20 minutes to write from the prompt and then allot time from there depending on how much time you have for the workshop. Provide plenty of pens and paper for participants, and if you can make the prompts on handouts they can take with them, even better.
And remember, these events are not about you. Yes, you can talk about your books after the workshop, but make the workshop valuable for the participants and not just you talking about you.
Next week we have an interview, but after that we will talk about the nitty gritty details of what you’ll need to set up for these events, so stay tuned.