Do Author Events Still Matter?

Many publishers no longer believe that events such as book signings really matter. But Amy Collins of the Cadence Group, a sales and marketing firm,  feels differently. In a recent interview, she acknowledged that although the marketing paradigm has changed, direct contact with readers still can be an important piece of an overall strategy to build an audience. However, as bookstore staffing has shrunk, authors themselves must take on more of the planning and executing of their own events. “The manager will probably say no until you say you will do all the work,” Ms Collins says. She offers these event planning  tips:

Before approaching a bookstore manager about setting up an event, compile a list of invitees and estimate the number of people who will attend.

Handle all of the press releases about the event yourself: newspapers, local magazines, city event calendars. Or hire a publicist to handle this for you. Call the local TV assignment desk the day of your event. Why? Because some scheduled interviewees will cancel at the last minute, leaving the TV station desperate to fill air time. If you’re lucky, they might cover your event.

Provide the bookstore with posters, custom bookmarks with the event date printed on them and other promo pieces to be used as bag stuffers, and be sure your event is listed in the store newsletter.

Most store  newsletters go out at the first of the month. Schedule your event toward the last of the month to maximize exposure through the newsletter.

Timing is important. Ideally, schedule your event 90 days out. Book as many events as possible close to your book release date. Be aware that some bookstores are not allowed to hold events during November and December.  If you’re trying to promote a Christmas-themed book, schedule events for mid to late October.

Have you tried any of these strategies?  Did they work for you?  What would you do differently next time? Do you have a tip to share?


6 thoughts on “Do Author Events Still Matter?

  1. Courtney Walsh

    My first book releases in February, and our bookstores often have people doing book signings. The sad thing is that they stand by the door accosting people to come to their table and it really ends up being a poor display. I can’t do that. I can’t go in and hover over shoppers praying they come over to see me…so I’ve often wondered if it matters…

    I knew the work would mostly be mine, but I guess what I’m curious about is the pay-off. Especially when it feels so foreign…anxious to see what others think…

    1. dorothy Post author

      Courtney, I complete agree with you. It’s uncomfortable to approach readers and ask them to give your book a chance. There’s a fine line between making them aware that you’re there and turning them off by appearing to be “pushy.” I’ve seen other authors enlist a friend or a family member to walk around handing out bookmarks and chocolate: “Hi, my sister Suzie Q is signing her new book today back there by the bathrooms. (Let’s hope not but it has happened!!) If you love (Fill in the blank ) Fiction, I hope you’ll check out her book.” Most writers are introverted. We’d rather hole up in our writing caves, turn out our stories and let the extroverts take charge of selling them. But in this new paradigm, we have no choice but to somehow get comfortable with being advocates for our books. I, too, hope that other people will comment here on Writers Caffeine and let us know how they have handled this issue.

      Thanks for writing!

  2. Carrie Turansky

    I like multi-author book signings for this reason. You can team up and introduce shoppers to the other authors. We take turns and that’s a great way to help each other. And when traffic is light you can talk to the book store staff and other authors. We did a great one last November in Lancaster, PA with several other authors from the Philadelphia-Lancaster area. It was a big success, and we all had a great time.

    1. dorothy Post author

      Carrie, thanks for your input. I like multi author signings, too. Last weekend in Houston we had a signing with 20 authors. All of us sold books, chatted with readers, and with each other. It’s a lot less pressure than a solo event. I’d recommend group signings to anyone just starting out.


Comments are closed.