Events: Building the Readership for Your Book

Events are a great way to spread the word about your book. However, it can take a lot of work to market events and get people to attend. In this article we look at the key elements to think about if you’re planning events to promote and sell your books.Events are a great way to spread the word about your book. However, it can take a lot of work to market events and get people to attend - so let’s look at the key elements to think about if you’re planning events to promote and sell your books:

Choose the type of event you want to hold

If you’ve written a novel or children’s book, book signing events in local libraries, schools, after-school clubs, or bookshops will raise your profile as an author. You can organise these by speaking to the venue team and being flexible about your availability.

If your book is non-fiction, you might give it away as a resource at workshops or training courses that you run - as a great gift when people are paying to attend. You may be speaking at a local networking event, where you can give away or sell copies. Or you may want to organise an event with yourself as the headline speaker covering the topic of your book. If it’s your own event, you’ll need to develop a marketing plan to promote the event early enough to sell the tickets or fill the seats.

If you feel nervous about hosting an event solo, consider getting together with other authors and organising a panel event, or even pitching an event to a local literature festival. Plan well in advance though, as many festivals finalise their line-ups at least six months ahead.

Our tip

Think about the capacity of your venue and plan on there being an attendance rate of only 50-75% - lots of people sign up, then don’t make it when tickets are free. Or charge a nominal fee of £10-£50 because this will dramatically improve the attendance rate, even if you get fewer sign-ups.

Build your author brand by giving local talks

Giving a talk about your book and expanding on the theme is a great way to sell more books. Even when you’ve been invited as a speaker, it’s important to do your own marketing to attract attendees. You can’t expect the venue or the event organisers to do all the marketing - and it’s best to have people in the audience who are looking forward to your talk. That way, you’ll be well placed to sell your books at the event.

Our tip

If you’re taking books to sell, offer them a slightly discounted rounded price, to make it easy for people to pay on the spot e.g. £11.99 becomes £10 or take an iZettle or Square card payment machine with you.

Share your events on your website

As soon as the event is booked in your diary, create a landing page on your website to link straight through to the tickets. You can direct people who are interested in hearing more to other pages on your website and also share the page everywhere.

Our tip

Use professional copywriting tips to write a compelling invitation on your landing page. Paint a picture for your readers (using similar wording to the book blurb) to entice them to read the page and click "book tickets" for your event. Make the booking button really clearly visible.

Promote the event online on social media

Using a tool like Bitly you can make the link to your event page even easier to share on social media. You can post several times a day on Twitter and up to three or four times a day on Instagram and Facebook - the trick is to vary the content between images, long copy and short copy posts. On Twitter, you can follow anyone without directly connecting. On Facebook, be wary of inviting people to like your page - unless they’ve shown an interest in what you’re saying in a conversational thread or you’ve been offered the chance to mention your Page. We all hate spammy direct messages and these often come from pages that, because of those, we will never buy from.

Our top tip from authors

Seek out relevant local organisations on social media and get involved with what they’re doing. This might be local writers groups, libraries, bookshops, local TV and radio stations. If you follow them and engage with their posts, people are generous with reciprocating in support of others in the community.

Try video marketing 'events’ to boost your book marketing

Videos are becoming popular on social media. You can set up dates for Facebook Live events, where you video yourself, either in discussion with another person or solo to share some of your knowledge or read a partial chapter out for your audience. If you’re a non-fiction writer, get to know any local business coaches and ask if they’d like to do a guest interview live with you.

Our tip

Save your videos, add captions and re-publish them onto a YouTube channel. Author Pam Gregory always shares live updates about her work with astrology which directly relate to her books.

Use print leaflets and posters for local marketing - leading to invites to more events

The power of printed flyers, leaflets and posters works best in communities where there’s plenty of noticeboards, such as in the doctor’s surgery, local shops, or counters in cafes covered in leaflets. Target places that already have posters on display in their windows or flyers visible inside. When you’ve lived in the same place for a while, it’s possible to become a local celebrity with invites to more events, especially if you’re visible and taking part in other people’s local events. Some communities take time to develop, however, when neighbourhoods feel positive, this can really benefit everyone - as an author, you’re well placed to play a proactive role in it. If you find there isn’t much for local writers or readers, consider whether you could be a catalyst and start something, perhaps starting small with a Christmas Book Fair, a Writer’s Day, or a themed Meet the Authors event.

Our tip

Be generous with your time for local causes, offer to do a talk in the library as well as shop-based book-signings, or give talks at local schools. Often the opportunities are there, but you have to ask about them and arrange it yourself.

Get your events publicised on the radio and in the local press

When you know your publication date or have booked your launch event, send a short, well-written press release to your local newspaper and local radio station presenters. Put the most important information first in your press release, because busy sub-editors simply cut stories from the bottom up - don’t put the time and venue for your talk in the last paragraph!

Check who is the correct contact to send it to by finding out on their website: the best way to reach them may be by email or an online web form. If they run a separate 'What’s On’ listing, do find out whether there’s a particular submission deadline. The media will always appreciate high resolution photos with a story, such as an image of book cover and your author photograph. And if you send them more frequent, yet relevant stories, they’ll always be happy to hear from you.

Our top tip

Submit an article which they can use 'as is’, because they’re more likely to publish it, even if only online. You need to cover what’s happening, why it matters to local people, when, where and the story of how it’s come about. If you want them to publish an open invite to your event, do give them at least four weeks notice to publish your story.

Grow an email list to share your news

Start developing lists of people, placing them into categories such as local and your wider readership list so that you can email them when you’ve got news to share. Encourage sign-ups at each event you hold, so that you can keep in touch with those who attend, and let them know about other events you organise that might also be of interest to them.

You’ll need permission to keep people’s data details on file, so do read up on the ICO website how to do this correctly, unless they’re genuinely your personal contacts.

Our tip

Get some training to use a free email tool like Mailchimp or Hubspot to stay in touch with your communities. You will have to pay for the sessions, but it’ll mean the task of contacting people is much easier for every year and book thereafter. As your list grows, hopefully, that will be a sign of growing the number of book sales or event attendees.
You can read more about promoting your books in our Facebook and Advertising blogs.

To contact us and discuss how we can help you to promote your book, get in touch here or take a look at our extra promotional services below.

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