Hosting a book signing or event can be a great way to promote your book and connect with your readers. While we are all better at online events and Zoom launches now, there is still something about person-to-person, in-the-room interactions that just can not be replaced. If you decide to throw an event, it’s worth it to follow some tips.
5 tips for creating a successful book event
1. Choose a venue: Select a location that is convenient and accessible for your audience. Consider venues such as bookstores, libraries, community centers, or coffee shops. Make sure the space can accommodate your expected audience and has adequate seating, lighting, and sound system. Think creatively too. If you have a book on riding your bike across America, consider a book event at some bike shops. Or if you have a book on DIY projects around the house, consider a restoration or hardware store.
2. Determine the date and time: Choose a date and time that works best for you and others. Avoid scheduling your event on holidays or during peak travel times. Consider the availability of your expected audience and try to schedule the event during a time that works for most people. Spring break might not be the best time if they have kids. Check local calendars. You don’t want to schedule an event at the same time the one big parade for the year passes through town. Also, allow yourself enough time to set up some media interviews during which you can invite people to come to your book event.
3. Promote the event: Create promotional materials such as flyers, posters, and social media posts to advertise your event. Use email marketing to notify your readers and followers about the event, and encourage them to spread the word. Reach out to local media outlets to promote your event and get the word out to a wider audience.
4. Prepare for the event: Make sure you have all the necessary supplies such as copies of your book, pens for signing, and a table for displaying your book. Prepare a brief speech or presentation to engage your audience and answer any questions they may have. Consider offering light refreshments or snacks to create a welcoming atmosphere. Be sure to have a couple of different signatures for signing your book. You don’t want to take up precious time sitting there, trying to think of clever things to say. Clever is good, but get them ready ahead of time. When I sign copies of Media Darling, one of my signatures is, “It’s your time to shine!” Get creative, and have two or three different ones so you don’t say the exact same thing to everyone.
5. Engage with your audience: During the event, engage with your readers, answer their questions, and thank them for their support. Collect email addresses so you can keep in touch with your readers about future events and new book releases. Another way to do this is to have a fishbowl and ask people to put in their business cards. You could even draw one or two to receive a free copy of your book. For those who think business cards are old-school, have a QR code or hashtag, or offer your website URL and suggest people go and sign up for a gift or whatever you may be offering.
Are book events worth it?
Now and then I hear some complain that bookstore signings and events just don’t work, but is that always true? Here are a couple of things to think about. First, did the bookstore market to their customer list? Did you market to your list? Did you invite your friends and family? Inviting people is key, so be sure you do so and let the venue know you are doing that. Also, ask them to be sure they are inviting people from their list as well.
Another thing to keep in mind is that sometimes the real payoff is in getting to know the bookstore staff so whenever someone comes in looking for a book on your topic, you want them to recommend your book. You want them to like you. It’s also a good idea to get on their “recommended reading” table.
In fairness, there are some negatives to consider when it comes to book signings and events.
Here are 5 cons to consider:
1. Limited reach: Book signings and events are often localized, meaning you may not be able to reach all of your readers. If you have a large fan base spread out across the country or the world, attendance will be limited to your geographical area, although it is fun when someone flies in to attend.
2. Time and cost: Hosting a book signing or event can take a lot of time and effort, and may require a significant financial investment. You will need to factor in the cost of travel, venue rental, promotional materials, and other expenses.
3. Low turnout: Despite your best efforts to promote your event, there is always the risk that few people will show up. Depending on the size of the venue and the number of people expected, a low turnout can be discouraging.
4. Pressure to perform: During the event, you may feel pressure to engage with your readers, sign books, and give a great presentation. This can be stressful and put a lot of pressure on you as an author.
5. Safety concerns: In today’s environment, there are always safety concerns associated with public events. You may need to coordinate security measures or take other precautions to ensure the safety of yourself and your readers.
I don’t mention these things to worry anyone, but it is smart to consider all the factors that go into having a live, on-the-ground-event. These potential cons should be weighed against the positives before deciding to host a book signing or event.
Benefits to book signings and events include:
1. Connect with readers: Book signings and events can offer a unique opportunity to connect directly with your readers. You can interact with them in person, answer their burning questions, and build stronger relationships.
2. Boost book sales: Book signings and events can help boost the sales of your book. By showcasing your book, engaging with your readers and generating buzz, you can increase awareness of your book and encourage people to buy it.
3. Build your brand: Hosting a book signing or event can help you build your brand as an author. By promoting yourself and your book, you can establish yourself as an authority in your genre and increase your visibility in the literary community.
4. Networking opportunities: Book signings and events can offer excellent networking opportunities. You can connect with other authors, publishers, book reviewers, and other industry professionals who can help promote your book or offer valuable advice and insights.
5. Social media exposure: Hosting a book signing or event can create buzz on social media platforms. You can encourage attendees to post photos and share their experiences on social media, which can help increase your online following and reach wider audiences. Be sure and post your hashtags so your event can be visible even after hours.
Extra benefits of bookstore venues:
As we mentioned early on, there are many different places you can hold a book signing or event, but a book signing at a bookstore can be worth it for several reasons, including:
1. Target audience: Bookstores cater to book lovers, so hosting a book signing in a bookstore can help you connect with your target audience. Not only are the attendees likely to be interested in your book, but they may also share your promotional materials with friends and family, which can further expand your reach.
2. Promotion: As well as hosting the book signing, the bookstore will most likely help promote the event, which can provide the event with additional exposure. Bookstores often have a loyal customer base who value their recommendations, so their support could be valuable.
3. Credibility: Hosting a book signing at a bookstore can add credibility to your book. The association with a respected bookseller can help convince attendees that your book is worth reading, helping to improve your reputation.
4. Sales: Book signings in a bookstore can result in increased book sales, as people attending have already demonstrated their interest in books. The presence of a physical copy of your book can help you make sales on site and sign it for the reader so they have a personalized copy.
Whether you host a book signing at a bookstore or any other number of venues, it can help you connect with an engaged target audience, attract additional promotion for your event, add credibility to your book, and ultimately increase book sales. And that is what we want. You can invite local media to your event too, particularly if you have a newsworthy or unusual tie in.
P.S. I am delighted to say that I’m going to be presenting another Media Training course for the Nonfiction Authors Association beginning May 23, 2023, and you’re invited! Look here, and check out all the benefits. This course is being offered at a fraction of what it would normally cost to get media training, so take a good deal when it comes to you. Join me!
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