Self Publishing Guide
Book readings and signings have gained a terrible reputation over the years so when you do score a book event, the feelings of wariness are almost implicit. The thing about book events is that it’s all in the marketing to maximize attendance and exposure. So how do you do it? Read on.
In-store marketing is an oft-ignored aspect of book events which is ironic because it’s one of the most central ways to get people’s attention. There are two things you can do to help drive people to attend: book marks and bag stuffers.
Bookmarks can be cheap [to produce] and personal all at the same time. They may seem like a cliche, but people do love them. It’s something to hold onto, a representation of the event [particularly if you include the date and time] and will serve as a reminder.
Bag stuffers can be done up in your software of choice and bundled in with bookmarks. You might want to ask nearby stores [if the event is taking place at a mall, for instance] if they would mind hosting the fliers and bookmarks. In either case, you will still need to ask the hosting storeowner’s permission on whether if you provide them with marketing materials, will they be able to spread the word on your behalf. On most occasions they won’t mind: good marketing will bring in people which in turn will bring them into the store which means new customers which means more money. It’s one of the core reasons they agreed to host you!
Normally if you’re launching a book the usual place is at a book store but why not try thinking outside the box? Hosting events at video stores, gyms, restaurants and cafes is an excellent way to build buz and generate increased interest and awareness. The thing about book stores is you’re essentially competing with all the other books in the store for people’s interest. Besides, think about it this way: doing events at places that don’t always cater for events will attract more people, just for the “unique” factor.
Boring Book Signings
Let’s face it: book signings have earned a bad rep for a reason. People like talking and discussing the “process” of the book with the writer, and when the writer’s just sitting a table signing things, it can get old … Very quickly. So opt out for a book signing and opt in for a reading, and talk about the book, encourage questions from the readership. If public speaking daunts you, check out networking and speaking groups [Toastmasters is an obvious destination] to help you out.
Prior to the event and depending on whether or not there are people in the store shopping before you get there, hand out bookmarks and bag stuffers to notify them that there is an event about to take place. Be friendly and tell them you’d love and appreciate it if they attend. It works.
Things happen at book signings and quite often they’re beyond your control, but try tailoring your discussion to the desires of the people attending. Take a brief poll on why they’re there, what they’re hoping to glean from the discussion, etc and then cater that into your discussion. If you have the answers they’re searching for, they will buy what you’re selling.
Schmooze and Network
Network with the hosting centre’s management staff on the day of the event, but before the event starts. Tell them about you and your book, maybe handing out a flier or bookmark [or a stack of them, if possible]. If the staff knows who you are, it’ll help in spreading the word about your work and drive more people to the event. If the event is at a mall, go around to the different stores and schmooze: mention the date and time of the event, your books topic, etc. Be friendly, not aggressive. You don’t want to turn anyone off. This is Word of Mouth marketing in practice: you tell store owners who have influence and they tell their patrons, who tell others and attendance will triple.
After the event is over, always encourage attendees to give you their names, email addresses and/or other forms of contact information which is a great way to keep them informed on your activities via a mailing list. And if you include a give away or an attending ‘thank you’, even better. If your powers of persuasion don’t cut it, simply offer a set of freebies like an e-book after the event which can only be received if people sign up. Once they do, collect their information and keep them in the loop. But don’t spam.
When it comes down to pricing you need to ensure that the book is affordably priced, because if it’s too expensive people might attend the event, but not buy the book. So have a nice evenly rounded number which isn’t too much and make the sale is quick and easy.
Buy 1, Get 1...?
One of things you might want to consider during marketing is selling your book paired with another, most often a freebie, priced accordingly. For instance, you can sell your regular book at $9.25 and pair it with a “freebie” and sell them both for $10 which makes 2 for $10 look very attractive. You can go for an e-book or special report route and can either do the sale immediately through a computer terminal or send it post-event.
During your discussion, regardless of where it’s being hosted, ensure that the book is placed at a strategically vantage and visible point, so while you’re speaking it’s easily viewable. During your talk, you can lift up a copy or read out sample chapters from the book, which is a great way to keep it swimming around in your visitors’ conscience. Make it easy for the attendees. Make it the natural next step.
Easy as pie
Buying your book at the event should be easy so don’t limit sales to just one means of payment, if you’re doing your own checkout that is. Credit cards, checks and cash: anything and everything goes.
Now that you have the contact information for the people who attended, be personal and polite and thank them for the attendance and remind them [if they didn’t get the chance to] to pick up a copy at the book store, at a “reduced price”.
Marketing that precedes, succeeds and takes place during an event is the absolutely crucial moment to increasing awareness and building up a readership. Seek out opportunities and then maximize them to your best advantage. You’ll be glad you did.