Book Promotion: Do This, Not That – November 2018

by | Nov 1, 2018

By Amy Collins

Today on DO THIS, NOT THAT, we are talking about book signings and author events. Too many authors spend heartbreaking afternoons sitting behind a folding table at a local store watching shoppers hurry by. Shoppers see the table and stack of books and immediately pick up the pace as they hustle past, not making eye contact with the author who will cheerfully chirp “Would you like a signed copy of my book?”

It does not have to be like this. Author events and signings can be SO much more effective if you DO and DON’T handle things in a certain way. Ready?

What Authors Do

Very often, an author will contact a store asking to do an event a few weeks out. The problem with this is that a month is NOT enough time for a store to properly book an event. Most stores are all booked up 90-120 days in advance. (Some are booked 6 months out!)

It takes a few months to:

  • properly write the promotional materials
  • set the calendar
  • get the newsletter listings done
  • get into press calendars
  • and do all the other things needed to have a successful event

In addition, stores can only do a few events each week or month and if an author waits too long, then the dates that they want may already be booked up.

What Authors Should Do Instead

When approaching a store or venue to pitch an event idea, give a date that is at least 90 days out. (I would suggest planning 4-6 out to be safe.)

What Authors Do

They plan a book signing. Does that sound crazy? Here is my point: There are a thousand authors sitting behind those card tables every month. The events offer nothing for the shoppers in the store nor do then add much to the lives of the authors. These signings are often dull events that do little to foster the relationship between author and reader.

What Authors Should Do Instead

Create an event with a theme and focus and activities.

  • Do a reading. Better yet? Get a local celebrity to do the reading FROM your book.
     
  • Get a theater troupe to do a staged reading.
     
  • Did you write a book that takes place in an area of the country that has wild horses? Then get a horse rescue expert to come do a talk about wild horses.
     
  • Did you write a children’s book that helps kids learn how to deal with a particular problem? Then get an expert on that problem to come share the time with you at the event and give a workshop with them for parents ON THAT PROBLEM.

There are a ton of different ways to spend two hours in the store. WHY would you spend it sitting behind a table?

What Authors Do

They do not leverage the event to get press, social media exposure or increase their reputation with other stores. It is hard asking local press people to stop by and cover your event, so many authors do not actually ASK. It is a pain to find all of the community event calendars and list the event, so many authors just trust that the stores will do it. Most of the time, this results in an event that does not get the press or exposure it deserves.

What Authors Should Do Instead

  • To start with, authors need to take tons of pictures at each event and post them on social media DURING the event. They should also have a sign at the event with their social media monikers and ask people there to tag them with posts that THEY put up at the event.
     
  • Also using social media to tag the event venue after the fact and thank everyone who was there as well as the staff of the venue is a great way to expand the reach of your event online.
     
  • Do not be shy about asking press people to come and cover your event. If you don’t ask, you won’t get. There is no harm in asking! But there is a LOT of harm in not asking.
     
  • Be sure to find and list your event at every community calendar at least one month before hand.
     
  • Send out invitations at least 3 weeks before hand to your friends and colleagues.
     
  • Update your press and marketing pages on your website and send links to other stores and venues showing how successful and fun your events are.
     
  • Book your next event!

There are a lot of reasons to have an author event. You can still sign your books for folks; but step it up a notch. Offer an evening or afternoon of:

  • education
  • entertainment
  • enjoyment

and you will sell a LOT more books and get a LOT more invitations to do more events!
 
Photo: BigStockPhoto

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1 Comment

  1. Rod Colvin

    When one of our authors wants to do a book signing, we print 500 invitations to the event (similar to engraved invitations…on a 4 x 6 card in white envelope) and ask the author to address and mail them. We average about a 20% turnout…which is better than having no one at a signing.

    Even if a recipient of the invitation does not attend, he/she is still impressed by the invitation. The invitation creates a bit of “sizzle.”

    Rod Colvin
    Addicus Books, Inc.

    Reply

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