In-Person Book Events Are Back! Here’s What You Need to Know
Blog by Vicky Lynch
It’s been a long two years of uncertainty in the publishing industry. Print dates have been pushed back due to supply chain issues, and in-person events to promote a book have basically been non-existent. But we’ve finally reached a point where things are starting to look up. And while every store and venue will likely have their own events policies and ongoing COVID protocols, it is now actually possible to hold a live event.
But hold on. Even prior to COVID, live events were tricky. Making plans to host a live event or appear at a local bookstore to sign copies of your book is something you need to carefully consider.
Here’s 3 Things to Consider When It Comes to In-Person Book Events:
You need to have an audience.
Meaning, you need to be able to pull together an audience from your friends, family, acquaintances, and business contacts. Yes, in many cases a bookstore will promote your event through their mailing list, in-store promotion and possibly even local media. However, be prepared for that to do nothing. And it’s not just for the event to be worth it to the bookstore, it’s also so that you don’t have a painful experience when no one shows up to your book signing.
Many moons ago, I planned events at a large bookstore. And one thing that I always required was that the author had addressed contacts who lived in the area that we could mail a postcard to (now those would be emails these days). It is hard to get people in seats if you aren’t a NY Times Bestselling author. And it can still be hard if you are.
Best case scenario, you are a raving success and sign books for hours. But if your friends and family end up being the only ones who came, aren’t you glad you invited them?
How will you sell books at the event?
Now, if you are doing a traditional book signing at a bookstore, that part is handled for you. However, if your book is self-published, you will likely have to bring your own copies to the event and sell them on consignment. If you are selling books at a launch party or a library, or any other venue, you will need to figure out how you will be selling books.
You may sell tickets ahead of time that include the price of the book, you may be able to persuade a bookstore to come sell copies for you if your attendance will be enough to support a staff member, or you may set up a table to the side where you will sell books that you brought yourself. If you do end up selling those books yourself, you’ll want someone (besides you) to run the sales, and you’ll need a way to accept digital payments.
How will you promote the event?
This ties into the audience, but how will you reach out to the local community about your event? I mentioned earlier that a bookstore may help you out. But they may not do much at all.
Do you have a personal publicist or does your book have a publicist who can help with pitching local media around your event? Can you share on your social media and drum up interest that way? Can you send an invite to your mailing list?
Yes, you’ve already invited your personal contacts to help safeguard your event, but realistically, you want to draw in a new audience of people who want to read your book because they are specifically interested in your area of expertise. It’s the whole point of doing an event in the first place, so you will have to be very intentional about your promotional plans.
Taking all this into consideration, remember that you can still host a virtual event. During COVID, it was our only option. Now, it can be a really fantastic one. Book sales can go through any online retail store, you can invite contacts from all over the world to the same event, and you can start building buzz about your book.
Interested in learning more about how to promote your book? We’d love to jump on a call to chat about how publicity can help you build buzz. Book a free call here.