Peparing for Promotional Events

Unless you have written a book intended only for family and friends, you must develop a marketing plan. To be commercially successful this is required. Writing is a craft~A book is a product and requires promotion aimed at connecting you with your readers and potential readers. Bookstore talks or book signings, speaking at book clubs, book festivals, and writers conferences, etc. Bookstores are one of the most popular, especially for launching new books. If you are a new author, bookstores are a great venue to introduce you and your book to readers. But what do you need to make an event successful?

The typical bookstore Meet and Greet (known as an author signing) places you at the front of the store where shoppers are most likely to see you. Usually, you will make the arrangement for either a M &G’s or group discussion with the Communities Relations Manager (CRM) @ B&N Events or Sales Manger @ Borders or Store Manager. They schedule the date and time, and order a supply of your books to sell. Bookstore normally do a minimum of advanced promotion. Some fliers in the store, maybe a poster in the window, and if you’re lucky a few local newspapers will be notified. Events in book stores must usually be scheduled at least three months in advance.

Every author should include promotions aimed at putting them face-to-face with their readers and potential readers. Bookstore Meet and Greets (author signings), speaking at book clubs, book festivals, and writers conferences, etc. Bookstores are one of the most popular, especially for launching new books. If you are a new author, bookstores are a great venue to introduce you and your book to readers.

But what do you need to make an event successful? The typical bookstore Meet and Greet places you at the front of the store where shoppers are the most likely to see you. Usually, you will make the arrangement for M &G’s or talks with the CRM (Communities Relations Manager @ B&N) (Events Mangers @ Borders) or Store Manager. They schedule the date and time, and order a supply of your books to sell. Bookstore normally do a minimum of advanced promotion. Some fliers in the store, maybe a poster in the window, and if you’re lucky a few local newspapers will be notified.
What can you do to boost sales? When Darlene started promotional book talks and Meet and Greets (author signings) she contacted local newspapers. Your small local newspapers are a bevy of free or very inexpensive advertizing. Getting a free interview and your picture in the local newspaper prior to your event will draw more people into the store than the newspaper calendar posting the bookstore placed for you. Also bring along a large poster of your book cover to place on your display table or bring a tripod to display it on. Have plenty of handouts for your potential book buyers such as bookmarks, postcards, pens with your book title and website, etc.

Book festivals, conferences, authors associations, and writers groups are also great places to promote your book. These types of events have programming staff who will guide you through the process of getting your booth or table. Some have fees involved, and at most festivals you will schedule your event a few months in advance. The event promoters usually have a large email lists of potential buyers and will do email blasts, newspaper, direct mail promotions, and sometimes radio and TV ads aimed at drawing in crowds. Your name and picture will appear along with an article about your book and sometimes an author bio. You can gain greater exposure if you become a speaker at these events. As a speaker, your name, book, time, place, and the title of your talk will appear in the speaker’s list–prominently placed in the event program, encouraging potential readers and readers who are already fans to come and meet you and listen to you talk.

How should you prepare? At these large crowd events, it is important you are prepared with plenty of books to sell and one or more methods for your book buyers to pay. These are all day events, or at least several hours. Since food venders may not be conveniently located, you will need to have some snacks and water with you. Have plenty of handout materials and freebies, like bookmarks, pens, and maybe a bowl of candy for your buyers and browsers.

Publishers today are looking for authors that not only have excellent book’s, but are able to get in front of people at writers conferences, book clubs, etc. It is important that you are well spoken and can deliver a good speech now and then.

If you don’t like to or are afraid to speak in front of an audience, what do I do? This will take some action on your part, if you want to become a successful author. Although Darlene has always been able to speak publicly she joined “Toastmasters International” to improve her speaking skills. Toastmaster is a great way to learn how to speak, how to organize your speech, and how to deliver your speech. The cost is to join is minimal and is a great investment in your future, and the future of your book. Darlene highly recommends that you join!

Darlene is in demand as a speaker now, not just for writers conferences, and book club, but she is requested as a guest on both radio and television on regular basis. Each time she is seen on TV, or heard on the radio, her book “Webs of Power” is exposed to anywhere from several thousand to several million potential book buyers.

As a new author, I recommend that you follow Darlene’s lead and start calling bookstores to schedule Meet and Meets (book signings) and author talks. (Until you are well know, you should set up talks only in your home town where you are able to attract friends and family), attend writer’s conferences, contact book clubs, and start selling your books at book festivals. Join Toastmaster International so you are confident and prepared to speak at various events, and promote your book. Darlene and I wish you the best!

~Kathy Porter

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