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?