How to Make Your Book Event Stand Out!

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author on a book tour or just doing a regular book event, it’s important no matter where the book signing or talk is held that you ensure you contribute to the success of the signing. In other words, your job is to do more than show up! The critical word to remember is promote, promote, promote!

Marketing your book through events, talks and book signings is still an incredible way to reach new readers. As more and more people become creative about the events and where they are held, it still is important to remember that the audience wants you to be entertaining, energetic and inspiring. Keep in mind that no matter how many people show up, you need to enjoy the event and be accessible. As Mark Victor Hansen of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series® always says, “no matter if 10 people or 100 people show up, you’re there to entertain them!”

Here are TEN valuable tips for ensuring you’re part of a successful event:

1. If you are the person booking your own bookstore event, book at least 6-8 weeks out to assume the most time for you and the venue to promote your event. Research your event prior to attending it, and arrive early in order to get a feel for the store and its patrons.

2. Make sure you know what area is set up for your presentation and that you’re comfortable with the area and where the audience will be sitting.

3. Take some extra press kits about your book with you – just in case there is an opportunity to give those to a media person or someone else who requests them for follow-up. Also bring along at least one of your speaker press kit in case someone at the signing comes up to you after your talk and is interested in you giving a large speech for her or his organization or business. Always make sure to ask for his or her business card as well so you can follow up.

4. Remember book signings are held to benefit the store and help drive sales. The more people who come to listen to your talk – the more valuable your event will be. Make sure that you ask the store to post the event in their newsletter, online at all their social media networks and be certain to have the event listed in the local media’s calendar listing sections. List the event on your website and Facebook page too.

5. Make a poster (PDF’s look especially professional) announcing the event, make copies, and send them to the bookstore so they can distribute to their customers for several weeks before your event.

6. Send a press release to appropriate local media and appropriate targeted businesses and associations announcing your upcoming event or make certain your publicist is doing so, starting at least four weeks before the date of your event.

7. Make sure that you have a prepared presentation and talk, about 20-30 minutes. Try to have two or three different talks that work depending on the audience (discuss what topic would be appropriate with the event coordinator). Be interesting, fun and entertaining, not bland and just informative. Make sure to tell stories during your talk because it will keep your audience focused on what you are saying and listening attentively. Do not book events where you just sit behind a table and wait for people to walk by and sign books.

8. Don’t be stand-offish to the audience or to the bookstore event managers – they are there to support and help your event be successful. You are really there to smooze the staff so they will remember your book and hand-sell it for months after you have left the store!

9. Leave plenty of time at the end of your talk for audience questions, at least 15-20 minutes.

10. Always give out your website, your blog address, your Twitter ID and your Facebook address at least a couple times during the event.

After the event—-always follow up:

1. Send a personalized hand written thank you note to the event coordinator.

2. Ask for her or his honest feedback on your event, including a self-addressed stamped envelope to return the feedback comments (or wonderfully written testimonial that you can use to pitch more events!)

3. Ask to schedule another event in a few months or to be part of an event that the store may be sponsoring or in which it may be involved (a community event or even another author event.)

4. Keep in contact with the event coordinator or assistant manager or store manager by visiting in person once every 6-8 weeks or so or by calling or emailing. This keeps your name and the name of your book in front of these salespeople often.

5. And lastly, send a complimentary note to the store’s district manager or corporate home office about the event and how wonderfully you were taken care of by their staff. This is rarely done and they will remember you and again, your book!

An extra gesture that the events will remember long after you’ve gone is to bring a little gift for the event coordinator as a special thank you for hosting you. Little things make a big difference for authors at book signings and events.

Keep your humor intact and remember to relax and enjoy the evening!