Marketing your book through events

Article published July 2020 on Writers Weekly.

As an author, you probably already know the value of marketing your book to new audiences through participating in events. Whether through festivals and conferences or events held at your local bookstore or library, in-person events are a great way to find new readers and raise the profile of both yourself as an author, and your new release. But these events can benefit not only the feature author that the event is centred on; other authors can also capitalise on this opportunity to reach a captive audience. How? By hosting the event.

Most author events include some kind of host. It may be the person interviewing the author. It may be the chair of a panel discussion. It may be the person who does an introductory speech, or gives an in-person review of the work. This secondary role is a great opportunity for book authors to raise their own profile and gain some book sales in the process.

How do you get to host anyway?

You like the idea of hosting another author’s book launch or interviewing authors on a panel. But how do you get these coveted speaking gigs? It’s all about networking.

The myth of the lone genius is dead; these days, all authors network with each other, and it’s important to build and maintain those relationships to not only improve your creative process, but your chances of sales success as well. If you don’t have a strong network of fellow authors, don’t worry – writers are generally a friendly bunch, and attending writers conferences, festivals and other events is the perfect way to meet like-minded people. Writing groups are also a great way to meet other authors. When you have this strong network, offer yourself as a potential speaker for your friends’ book launches.

What if I want to appear at larger-scale events?

Appearing at big ticket events is a bit trickier than just asking friends. High profile writers’ conferences or festivals look for experienced people to host their panels or be involved in author talks. But that doesn’t mean these things are out of your reach. If you have done some work introducing books at launches or interviewing writers for events, or even for podcasts or print, these count towards your resume as a potential panel member. Pitch your services to festivals, mentioning your experience and also your understanding of whatever type of panel you’d like to be a part of. Maybe you’re an expert on true crime, or have plenty to say about the romance genre. Position yourself as someone who will be an experienced and informed interviewer of the other panellists, able to steer the conversation and ensure an entertaining discussion for the audience.

How will it help me sell books?

So how does all this result in book sales for you? No, you’re not the draw card of the event; as the host or interviewer, your role is to demonstrate how great the primary author is – not steal the limelight for yourself. But this doesn’t mean that an audience won’t leave the event with your book in hand as well. Endeavour to be the most charismatic and interesting version of yourself; in a competitive book market, the author is as much a commodity as their book. Link your book and the feature title in the audience’s mind: if you’re a mystery writer interviewing another mystery writer, you can draw comparisons between their book, your work, and the canon more broadly. When introducing yourself to the audience, always be sure to mention your publishing credits. You may even want to ask the author you’re interviewing for some book recommendations as a final question – hopefully they’ll be gracious enough to recommend you! If the event is taking place at a bookstore, ensure plenty of stock of your title is available on the shelves. If there is a book signing, don’t be shy to offer to sign copies of your book too. You generally won’t be paid for these appearances, so make sure it’s worth your time and results in some sales! 

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