Author events are a great way for writers to connect with their readers. Whether you’re a traditionally published or indie author, events can be both a fun way to celebrate your book and market it to new readers. Previously, I’ve discussed ways to prepare for a book launch party, but now I’d like to take a look at preparation for author events more broadly. Whether you’re preparing for a signing, conference, author showcase, or any other event, it’s important to be prepared for the event in advance. Here are some prep tips that I’ve found especially helpful:
- Spread the word
Obviously, you need to let people know where you’ll be and when. But it’s easy to forget to utilize all the tools available to advertise an event. Make sure that you post about the event well in advance on your author website. (I’d recommend having a page of your site dedicated to this purpose.) If the event is local, print fliers to advertise it. And don’t forget to post on social media, both well in advance and right before the event. It’s easy to create an event page on Facebook, post a picture of the event flier on Instagram, or send a quick tweet the day of the event.
- Order your books in advance
You’ll need to make sure well in advance that there will be enough copies of your book available. If you’re traditionally published, you’ll need to have a bookseller provide copies or order from your publisher. If you’re self-published, you’ll need to make your book available in print and have the copies ordered well in advance. Be prepared for delayed shipments or other issues.
- Confirm everything 48 hours in advance
As well as making sure your books will be available, you’ll also want to confirm everything else. If you’re speaking at a conference or panel, check in with them to verify your schedule. If you’re doing a book signing, check in with the host or venue.
- Decorate your table
If you’re doing a signing event, you’ll probably be sitting at a table provided by your venue. Chances are it will be a pretty plain setup. If you really want to draw readers in, consider ways to make it look appealing. Print a banner with your book’s cover on it, bring a decorative tablecloth, etc. I know an author who once cut out dozens of paper snowflakes and strung them around her table, which was not only eye-catching but also tied into her book, which was a retelling of the Nutcracker. Getting creative and sprucing up your space can really draw people in.
- Have promotional items
In addition to your book, be prepared with other promotional items—bookmarks, business cards, pens, or other swag. There are a lot of options for this, but whatever you choose, make sure it will look great when displayed at a signing table. Personally, I find that bookmarks are absolutely invaluable—they’re inexpensive, they’re easy to hand out, and you can print information about all of your books, your website, and more on each one. But if you’re able to spend a little more, there are lots of other fun items that will draw people to your booth or table. I’ve seen tote bags, T-shirts, buttons, and more.
- Bring candy
Nothing encourages people to stop by more than chocolate! It’s always great to have a small bowl of candy on hand alongside your promotional items.
- Be prepared for both credit card and cash payments
If you’re self-publishing, you’ll probably be selling books at the event yourself. I would recommend using an app like Square in order to accept credit card payments for your books right on your smartphone/tablet. But many readers will want to pay in cash, so have plenty of change ready.
- Bring a good signing pen and plenty of spares
Make sure to practice with the pen you’re going to use ahead of time. You’ll want something easy to write with that will create a strong signature without bleeding through the page. Bring plenty of extra pens, just in case.
- Have a newsletter signup sheet
I recommend that authors have email newsletters to send updates about releases and promotions to readers, and author events are great places to collect email addresses. Include a simple signup sheet on your table, and make it clear to readers what they’re signing up for.
- Have reasonable expectations
Be aware that not all author events draw a crowd—in fact, most don’t. But don’t let that discourage you from taking advantage of an opportunity to connect with readers. Be friendly and positive to anyone who shows up. Enjoy the moment!
Have you ever done an author event? What worked and what didn’t? Are there any tips I missed? Let me know in the comments!
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