October was a busy month for me as an author. Not only did I release my latest title, The Wizard’s Gambit, but I also participated in several author events as well.
On October 17th, I hosted an online book launch party to celebrate with long-distant friends the release of my new book. During the party, I served virtual cake and drinks while sharing information about my new book.
The following week, I hosted a physical book launch party for family, friends, and fans at Half Moon Restaurant and Brewery in Kokomo. Almost twenty people showed up, I believe, several more than I expected. I actually ran out of room at the table and had to request more chairs!
For those who were unable to attend the book launch party on Friday, they were invited to stop by my booth during Saturday’s comic convention. The event was held at our local community event center. Nearly 1,500 people walked through the doors that day. A small portion of them stopped by my booth and purchased a signed copy of my book. I made more than enough to cover my booth fees and any related expenses. Plus, I got lots of people to sign up for my newsletter. My book found itself into the hands of new readers as well as returning fans, who told me how much they enjoyed my first novel, The Quest for the Holy Something or Other. One fan, a high school student, informed me that she’d used my debut novel for a book report on comedic fiction. I was thrilled. Of all the events, this was probably the most successful, and I think it has a lot to do with the event I participated in the week before.
The week before Kokomo-Con, my sister and I were invited by one of our area school’s librarians to speak to her “geek group” about cosplay and Kokomo-Con. For many of these students, Kokomo-Con would be there first convention and cosplay event. So we created a fun powerpoint with information, photos, and advice for new cosplayers and presented it to the students after school during their club meeting. We talked about our own cosplay experience, the ups and downs, and offered some advice to new cosplayers and congoers. My sister even wore her new walking centaur costume. Of course I squeezed in some shameless self-promotion during the presentation.
The students loved us, and I saw many of them at my booth the following Saturday, eager to show off their costumes and learn more about my writing. I’m happy to say, I’ve been invited back to speak on writing/publishing/freelancing to her aspiring artists and writers. I can’t wait!
From my personal experience, I’d say author events are worth doing for one simple reason: to connect with readers. Writing is a solitary job and reading is a lonely activity. Put the reader and writer together and you get more than just a lonely reader and an invisible author, you get a connection.
Author events give authors a chance to engage readers in person, to see the reactions on their faces while describing their book. Readers get a chance to share their thoughts on the author’s work and to ask questions regarding the writing process. This interaction enhances the reader’s experience later on and inspires the author to keep writing. Plus, readers are more likely to purchase a book from someone they’ve actually met. Studies show that . . . somewhere. Just take my word for it.
For those of you who are planning on hosting an author’s event, I offer some simple advice:
- Relax. Focus on having fun, not making sales.
- Pump yourself up. Tell yourself this is going to be fun.
- Lower your expectations. Face it, unless you’re Stephen King or George R. R. Martin, not that many people are going to care about your book, at least not right away.
- Acknowledge the awkwardness of the situation or bring a friend along to lessen the embarrassment.
- Drink a martini beforehand. Or take a Xanax.
- Practice talking about your book BEFORE the event.
- Offer free bookmarks and/or candy to lure people to your booth.
- Smile and engage potential readers. Be social.
- Decorate your booth with a tablecloth and eye-catching items to draw people’s attentions. Make sure your books are visible.
- Provide incentives, like a giveaway, to encourage people to visit your booth and/or sign up for your newsletter.
- Offer the book or books at a discounted price to entice them to purchase the book now rather than later.
- Offer to sign books purchased in person.
- Stay positive. Even if you want to die.
Authors, put yourselves out there. Schedule an event at your local library. Host a read-in at the popular coffee shop. Face down your fears so you can connect!