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!

How to Get the Media’s Attention

By Peg Booth

If you’re an author, whether you are working with a publicist or not, it’s very important to keep in mind that part of your success is being able to answer the who, what, why, when and how for the media and its listener base.

We’re all curious about the latest trends, breaking news, innovations, interesting and unique people or products – and the media is exactly the same way. Imagine creating a new trend with your book or ideas. Imagine giving the media a brand new angle for coverage of a saturated topic.

Creativity is key to providing the unique news-hook for your book or your platform so that the media wants to feature you. Authors must think about how their book applies to the hot issues of the day – it’s a constant and ever-changing focus. One of the basic questions to ask is, “Is my story relatable? Does my story tap into something that people are worried about or an issue that might be controversial?”

For instance, some very prevalent issues as I write this column are the environment, the economy, civil unrest and war in parts of the world, the family crisis in terms of parenting and stresses on family, diets and healthful living. Each day a new opportunity presents itself to pitch your story forward in a meaningful and news-worthy fashion.

Think how you can be part of the news discussion almost in real-time, as it is happening. Don’t discount your opinion and how it might be valuable to many other associated topic interviews beyond your book.
Whether it’s hard-hitting news interviews or feature pieces, the key for you is to be able to successfully tie-in these larger issues to your book or your platform, and speak effectively on those when you are tapped by the media.

Reporters and media need credible sources, and you are the best possible source for them as long as you’re well-versed in your topic area and you are armed with verifiable facts.

The media is counting on you to be the expert, to elevate the discussion and help everyone progress to a deeper understanding of the topic or subject manner. If you think of several different angles for the story, this will help you in creating something unique from your expert perspective.

Asking questions is crucial to this practice. Who is important in this story? How will my interview impact the listeners, and why should they absolutely be listening? How can I effect change in their lives through this interview?

The media aims to establish significance of any story for their listener base, and they rely on their guests to help them do that. The more a news story applies to current events and topics, or is relevant to the listener community at large, the more opportunity and success you’ll have to be a featured expert.

It’s Never Too Late for A Boost of PR

By Peg Booth

In this competitive book arena, both online and offline, it’s still very important to empower your book’s visibility with PR outreach. The good news is that every book has a reader; in fact, with the Web’s reach, many books are finding new readers daily even if they’ve been out for awhile. But it’s not enough to coast along with your book’s profile on Amazon and do nothing, not if you want to increase book sales. This is where PR comes in.

There are a few things that you can and should do to give your book every chance for success. Every author needs to have a website or a blogsite so that readers can easily find you and find out more about your book. We can’t stress enough how important it is to be visible in the online world. Having a Facebook page, a Twitter profile, even a Google+ presence can dramatically help people get to know you and your book. People are now searching for experts and authors on Facebook almost as often as they are on Google. As Facebook continues empowering its search capabilities, that number will continue to grow. Having a clean, professional looking website for people who find you on social media can be the difference between making a fan, and getting nothing.

The power of the Internet is that online you also have the book bloggers to reach out to for good PR and reviews. Whether you use a full-service media agency or plan your own blogging campaign, the book bloggers are important and should be respected as any other offline media person. As we look at print publications slowly moving more and more of their editorial content online, you might have the best of both worlds with hybrid reviews that are featured online and offline all in one.

Keeping your book at the forefront of the current news and happenings will give you additional and empowering ways to highlight your book and your ideas. Always look for the news hook as you make your way toward success, and keep your PR firm in the loop with your ideas. After all, you’re the expert on your book; your ideas are what your audience wants to hear.

In PR there is a saying, “Pitch new and often.” What that really means is that you always want to find new ways of pitching ideas and you want to continue to pitch no matter how many “no’s” you might receive.
In the midst of pitching your book as many different ways as you and your PR professional can come up with, it is vital to maintain a fresh, vibrant online presence through your website and your social media profiles.

So even if your book is months past its publication date, by using all of these tools, you and your PR team can improve visibility and sales. It’s never too late.