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This blog was featured on 02/15/2019
Updating the Bookstore Book Event Experience for 2019
Written by
She Writes
February 2019
Written by
She Writes
February 2019

Authors and bookstore event attendees can agree that author events can sometimes feel awkward and forced. Engaging is key to getting readers excited about your book but sometimes getting that engagement is easier said than done. If you’re looking to change up the way you hold book events this year, here are a few things to consider before hosting your next event.

Ask Your Audience Questions

When it comes to holding author events where you speak about your work, it’s important to gauge the way your audience is feeling and speaking on topics they are interested in. Always walk into a book event prepared with interesting anecdotes you’d like to share but also ask more about your audience and what they want to hear. It’s not every day that readers get to meet writers they love. Because of this, make the event something they thoroughly enjoy and feel a part of. Don’t be afraid to ask audiences about their favorite chapter, characters or scenes. You’re there to teach them new things about your book, not to reiterate the things they already know.

Creating Conversation to Sell Your Book

In a recent article in Literary Hub, author Craig Terlson broke down why he sees authors having a hard time engaging with readers in bookstores. While setting up a table to sell your book at a store sounds like a great idea, you have to consider the interactions that will come as a result. What will you talk about with passerby? How do you get them interested in the book you’re pedaling?

Terlson ran into the issue many authors do when setting up their books at local stores: most shoppers don’t know what to say to authors. To remedy this problem, the author started putting up a sign at his booth asking readers to ask him about a specific subject. Because his book was set in the 70s and featured content about the drug culture, politics and other subjects he put things, “Ask me about LSD” on his sign. This simple tactic encouraged organic interaction and conversations that eventually led to talking about his book and convincing the shopper that they needed to buy it.

Do An On-the-Spot Giveaway

No matter what industry you work in, one thing is always true: people love free stuff. Offer up a copy of your new book or an exclusive item to the attendee who has traveled the furthest for your event, or the reader who can answer a difficult trivia question about your book. Giveaways are a guaranteed way to get people’s attention and encourage them to participate in your event.

Make It A Group Event

While many authors have made friends with fellow authors through social media, it’s important to take those relationships into your real life. A great way to make these connections happen is to partner up for live events. Reach out to your network of authors who write within your genre and ask about their upcoming book events. Can you make it a joint event? Can you moderate the Q&A? Coming together with these authors will only expand your own market as you now have the potential of reaching their audience in addition to yours.

Don’t know many authors in your genre yet? Check out the events calendars for the bookstores that are local to you and start attending signings, readings, etc. This is a great way to introduce yourself to authors in real life and will further your efforts to work together in the future whether it be for book tours, blurbs or shoutouts on their own social media.

Take Your Event to A New Location

While bookstores can promise foot traffic from readers who may not know your work yet, it’s always important to consider other locations for your events. Take your story into account and arrange something that feels authentic to what you’re writing about. For example, working with a local bar, a yoga studio or coffee shop could yield an event that works more closely with your book. The promise of an atmospheric location can mean bringing readers who wouldn’t normally attend an event in a bookstore—be the author who thinks outside of the box. As always, make sure to reach out far ahead of time to get the OK to work with these businesses.

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