Building an Audience for Talks & Events

SilverWood author Helen Barbour gives us an insight into how she approaches building an audience for her events and talks.

SilverWood author Helen Barbour gives us an insight into how she approaches building an audience for her events and talks...


  • Giving a talk is a great way to raise your profile and - hopefully! - sell books. Once you’ve secured that all-important booking, though, how do you find an audience?
  • Firstly, don’t assume that the venue will do much promotion. Use your own contacts - on email and social media - to spread the word, with at least one message 2-3 weeks ahead of the date and a follow-up nearer the time.
  • Set up an 'Events’ page on your website and keep it up-to-date; you can use this link in your promotional activity, and even shorten it on the Bitly website, which is helpful when Tweeting.
  • Seek out relevant local organisations on Twitter and Facebook and message them directly, e.g. writers groups, libraries, bookshops, and TV and radio stations. People are usually generous in supporting others in the community. 'Follow’ or 'Like’ them and reciprocate their support as and when you can.
  • Send a short, well-written press release to your local newspaper, with accompanying images, e.g. book cover and author photograph. Reader contributions are an invaluable source of content and if you submit a piece they can use 'as is’, they’re more likely to publish it, even if only online.
  • A press release should present information in descending order of importance, as busy sub-editors simply cut stories from the bottom up - so don’t put the time and venue for your talk in the last paragraph!
  • Verify the correct contact and means of approach on their website (email or web form) and also which day they go to print, as that’s best avoided when submitting a non-urgent news story. Check if they run a separate 'What’s On’ listing, which may have a particular submission deadline.
  • Time and finances permitting, consider producing flyers, postcards or bookmarks for face-to-face distribution to businesses local to the venue. You’ll reach a wider audience that way than by posting through individual letterboxes.
  • Target places that already have posters on display in their windows, or flyers visible inside, but also check for notice boards in libraries and shops such as Tesco Express. Most are free to use.
  • While it’s hard to judge the success of any paid-for marketing, flyers do provide an excuse to talk to people about your book and may generate additional sales or other promotional opportunities.
  • Finally, maintain a list of the contacts made as a 'local plan’ that you can draw on in future. One talk often leads to another!


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