As an author, you probably already know the value of marketing your book to new audiences through participating in events. Whether through festivals and conferences, or events held at your local bookstore or library, in-person events are a great way to find new readers, and raise the profile of both yourself as an author, and your new release. But, these events can benefit far more than the feature author that the event is centered on. Other authors can also capitalize on this opportunity to reach a captive audience. Don’t stop at simply placing your books for sale at the event. GET INVOLVED!
How can you do that? Perhaps you can be a keynote speaker. You can chair a panel discussion. Or, you can do live interviews of other authors. This secondary role is a great opportunity for book authors to raise their own profile, and gain some book sales in the process.
How do you get a gig like this anyway?
If you want to start small, offer to host an event for a local author who has just released a new book. The myth of the lone genius is dead. These days, all authors network with each other and it’s important to build and maintain those relationships to not only improve your creative process, but your chances of sales success as well.
If you don’t have a strong network of fellow authors, don’t worry. Writers are generally a friendly bunch, and attending writers conferences, festivals, and other events is the perfect way to meet like-minded people. Online and in-person writing groups are also a great way to meet other authors. When you have this strong network, offer yourself as a potential host or speaker at your friends’ book launches.
What if I want to appear at large-scale events?
Appearing at big ticket events is a bit trickier than just asking friends. High profile writers’ conferences or festivals look for experienced people to host their panels, or be involved in author talks. But, that doesn’t mean these things are out of your reach.
If you have done some work introducing books at launches, or interviewing writers for events, or even for podcasts or print, these count towards your resume as a potential panel member. Pitch your services to festivals, mentioning your experience and also your understanding of whatever type of panel you’d like to be a part of. Maybe you’re an expert on true crime for a panel on writing mysteries, or have plenty to say about the romance genre. Position yourself as someone who will be an experienced and informed panel participant, able to steer the conversation, and ensure an entertaining discussion for the audience.
How will it help me sell books?
So, how does all this result in book sales for you? No, you’re not the draw card of the event. As the host, a speaker, or interviewer, you can’t overtly steal the limelight for yourself. But, this doesn’t mean that an audience won’t leave the event with your book in hand as well.
Endeavor to be the most charismatic and interesting person at that event. In a competitive book market, the author is as much a commodity as their book. Cement yourself and your book(s) in the audience’s mind. If you’re a mystery writer interviewing another mystery writer, you can draw comparisons between their book, your work, and the canon more broadly. When introducing yourself to the audience, always be sure to mention your publishing credits, which include your books. Refer to your own books as example when discussing a genres or other publishing topics.
If the event is taking place at a bookstore, ensure plenty of stock of your title is available on the shelves (or on a table nearby). If there is a book signing, don’t be shy about offering to sign copies of your book, too. On the plus side, while you likely won’t be paid to host events for a local author, you might qualify for free travel and lodging at larger ones.
Emma Hall is an Australian freelance writer and editor. She has worked for eight years in the publishing industry and has been involved in many book festivals and events. Emma writes about books and writing at emmahallwrites.com.
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