Above: Peter Bartram launching Headline Murder (JHP Roundfire Books imprint) at City Books, Hove.
Bookstore signings, workshops, talks and conferences are good ways to meet readers and launch books. Booksellers and event organizers are keener than ever to invite authors to participate in promoting and selling their books. There are many guides on the internet on how to run these affairs – for instance The Society of Authors in the UK advises on how to run events in schools, libraries, universities, festivals and elsewhere at: http://www.societyofauthors.org/guides-and-articles.
An event can be set up as soon as publication date is set nine months ahead, If you have a speaking event and you need stock of your books, this is possible; please order your copies via the Author Foum – Sales & Distribution – Sales to Authors. You will have to estimate the number required. Please see CHAPTER 16: How you can order your book.
If the event is set a lot earlier than the publication date, it will not be possible for the general public or bookstores to order the book until we print stock a month prior to the actual publication date. Thus it is advisable to organize an event close to the publication date so that books can be purchased. Bookstores order books through their distributors, and the book will only be shipped once stock has been received into our warehouse 3-4 weeks before publication date.
What we do
We will send you a notification nine months before publication date, encouraging you to approach local bookshops and organize a book launch. For further advice/help on hosting an event, please use the Author Forum in the section under Marketing and Publicity on Events/Signings.
If we are contacted by an event organiser we will then pass on the organizer's email address to you. Last year we had around 300 book-signing events out of 500 approaches, and we found that the arrangements were best made by you. Bookstores are more interested in you than us – and usually want to deal with the author directly. The organizer needs to speak with you directly about the details – when it’s going to be, how many are likely to come, whether you’re going to speak or not, when you have to finish by, how they want to receive the books, and so on. If a bookstore wants to know how to get books for an event, see Advising Bookstores in Chapter 16.
We support events by offering good discounts, designing posters and flyers, printing sufficient books, crediting retailers with returned stock, and suggesting venues in our Contacts database, but we don’t contribute to the cost otherwise.
Our US and UK distributors can offer your book(s) at a discount (20% is normal) to readers. This is known as a “discount code”. It can last for a specified amount of time, particularly if you are doing several talks/events/conferences. Typically, we have organised codes to run for 6 months.
Promotions must be set up by JHP. If you would like to run a promotion, please post your request in the the Help forum under Sales & Distribution/Other queries. And make sure to add this promotion to your Marketing Activities and to share with JHP on the FB closed author group.
There is more information in Chapter 16: How to run a promotion to your network at extra discount.
You can then produce a flyer with an order form to use at events/talks/conferences. These need to follow a specific format for the distributer to work with. Again there is information on that in the above Ordering link.
Here is a recent example:
If you cannot do this yourself using Word or a desktop publishing package, then you can request this from the Publicist in the Author Forum – Marketing & Publicity – Events/Signings. We can supply the files for posters and fliers by email, you can then print these for yourselves, or find a local print shop to do it for you.
We attend some fairs and, very occasionally, launches; Zero Books for instance will this year have a table at the Left Forum in New York, Wordstock in Portland, the American Library Association Annual Convention and the London Radical Book Fair. The MBS list and the Paganism imprint (Moon Books) will attend a similar number. But we're limited in what we can do here, being scattered thinly, worldwide.
What you can do
Some of our authors get regular sales and exposure for their book/s for many months/years after publication, through events at shops, schools, etc. Time and travel are the main limitations here. If you work with an organization that we do not currently have in the database, it would be a great help to enter onto the system:
- Individual contact name.
- Email address.
- Phone number.
- Organization name.
- Organization website URL.
You can then enter an event as an activity. Whilst on the Contact page, click on Marketing History on the right-hand menu.
- Click "+ add activities"
- In Activity Type, select Event/Signing
- Select the date for Arranged if you have set up the event for the future
- Date completed if you have done the event, and supply a link in the Notes section if you have one
- Feedback on your event in “Contact Notes”
- Search for your title
When an event is completed and there is a link available, the Publishing Manager will get a notification and can highlight this event on social media. Photos taken at an event are useful to use on social media. If you have a photo of the event, you can upload this to your book’s Marketing page under Publicity.
Promoting the event
- Spread word of your event through online social media especially to your friends on Facebook and to the followers of your blog and Twitter. Go to your Author Closed Facebook page or Imprint page and tell them about your forthcoming event. When it happens, take a photo and post it there. Your publicist/publisher can use it for social media and perhaps put it in the blog.
- Send out a six-second taster of your talk or trailer for your book on Vine. Email your networks. Ask your networks to contact their networks and hope news of your book goes viral.
- Use the flyer template in Publicity on your Marketing page to create flyers and posters to advertise your event.
- Enter your event onto the System so that it can be included in newsletters to subscribed media and trade contacts and to readers who have signed up to receive fan news.
- Be prepared for this...http://lithub.com/what-to-do-when-no-one-shows-up-to-your-reading/
Tips from authors
- "It is only big names that draw the crowds; keep promoting yourself on radio and in magazines and your name will grow."
- "Ask if you can sign author copies (the larger chains usually do that as a matter of course) and you will sell more."
- “Do a talk instead of just a signing, move about and don’t just sit at a table.”
- “Some people will come up to you, but it is incumbent upon you to initiate contact most of the time!”
- "Location, sitting at the front of the store, helps. You have to greet and say "hi" to everyone coming and going."
- "Work with a specialized rather than general store, especially if they have a dedicated client base. They will market the event which increases the chances for sales."
- “Hand out flyers, bookmarks, any kind of bag stuffers.”
- “Have the book close by you, for sale, hold it when you talk about it.”
- “At the beginning of a talk, poll people to find out what bought them there, or what they hope to learn. See if you can solve their problems.”
- “Make friends with the bookshop people, get to know them.”
- "Track the stores in the website in your area, see which titles have been launched there, contact the authors privately through the forum and ask how they got on."
- “It doesn’t have to be a bookshop, could be anywhere different.”
- “Show up early, hand out flyers and talk it up.”
- "Just keep plugging away, and throw away all your expectations."
- "Check if they supply chairs. Most people are happy to stand for a short talk, but it is helpful to have some for the elderly/infirm."
- “Buy yourself a table-top easel. It is great to show-off your book in an upright position!”
- “Place a nice good horizontal pile of your books next to that (you can fan them out if you want to be arty!)”
- “Get yourself some bookmarks printed… Try www.thebookmarkshop.com/promotional.htm.”
- “The main value of some events is in the contacts you can make rather than direct sales. Have a couple of extra chairs for conversations.”
- “At book expos, walk the floor, have postcards of the book handy, give them out to booksellers (denominated by color of badge) and encourage them to come to your table for a signing event for a free copy.”
- “It is easier and more productive if you can join forces with one or more authors in your area, post on the Author Facebook Group or on the HELP/Marketing&Publicity Forum.
There is more help with using the system in Chapter 10.
- We will send you an allocation of printed copies of your book (as per contract) about six weeks before publication, one of which you should take with you to the bookstore along with a printed copy of the AI/sales sheet, which you will find on the Marketing page.
- Please do ensure that you arrange events a few weeks in advance to ensure books reach the event or signing. Six weeks is a long enough lead for many stores but some may need longer.
- You can email the store the digital review copy PDF from your Marketing page in the Publicity section. Some authors recommend that you take extra copies of your book to the event. It has happened that bookshops forgot to order, ordered too late, didn't order enough copies, or even that they sell out. Estimating how many books to order for an event is a black art, but it helps to pool experience. Contact us by posting in the Author Forum.
Nick David is an author based in York (Northern England, UK). Nick began his "event" marketing with the writing group he was involved in. A first-time author, he set up readings with his local writing group and others in the area. From there he proposed talks to writing groups along the lines of “How travel broadens the literary mind” and whilst there he could promote his book Birds of the Nile set in Egypt. At another he discussed “his writing journey”. Nick also contacted his local libraries and local book festivals. In all, during publication of his first book in 2014/2015 Nick took part in seven book festivals in the North of England. He then moved onto bookstores and did a tour of local W H Smith and Waterstones Stores in the York area. Typically, he sold around 20 copies of his book at each signing. By doing lots of events he got himself known as a local author. These events helped the sales of his first book. With the publication of his second book in 2015, Nick repeated his book tore event/signings, doing a tour of 13 bookstores during the Summer 2015. Sales of the second book were much improved on the sales of the first.
A Note About Libraries
Libraries, like most of the public sector, are cash strapped. They will not buy a book from you directly if you walk in with one, as they have proper acquisition channels to go through. There is more about how we sell to libraries, and what you can do to influence them in CHAPTER 16: INTRODUCTION TO SELLING YOUR BOOK. However, they may have opportunities for talks to your local community. We would advise that you take your book along to your local library and talk with the librarians, and see what opportunities they have.
Some cities may have a collaboration between several libraries, where they organize author events between different sites. Have a look to see if your local libraries have a website, research what they offer in the way of author events and then propose your book to them via email. Libraries must be creative to make themselves a community resource. As an example see Birmingham Library (UK) which runs a ‘Meet the Author’ initiative; the talks on offer are varied in theme and cover all genres. If you google search 'UK libraries and author events', there are plenty of activities going on.
Donna Bryson, author of, Home of the Brave (publication Jan 2018), emailed her local Denver (USA) Library to ask if they would purchase her book. This is their reply.
The Denver Public Library is excited to be purchasing your book! We would love to explore the possibility of an author event at the Park Hill Branch of the Denver Public Library as well.
We have had the most success with author events on Saturdays at 2:30pm. We book events pretty far in advance. We are especially excited to promote your book on Random Acts of Kindness Day on Saturday, February 17 at 2:30pm.
To book in February, we would need the description of the event and details finalized within a month or so.
If you would like more dates, I can provide more dates and even look into weekday evenings, if that is your preference.
We are located at 4705 Montview Blvd at the corner of Montview and Dexter, not to far from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Expected audience can vary. Sometimes weather issues arise and it is either simply too nice or too yucky out. I would say, with your topic and expertise, I wouldn't expect any less than 20 to attend. We will promote in print with the Engage brochure, our branch brochure, flyers in the branch and community and on social media.
If you would like to sell books at the event, we would love that. Our boundary is that we are unable to assist with the transactions of book sales. Are you able to bring someone with you to help with book sales? We are not equipped to provide book sales. We are happy to facilitate book sales by setting up a table, etc.
We provide light refreshments. We have had many successful author events in the past. I feel that your book would be immensely popular with my community.
They may run the Indie Author Day initiative (USA). This occurs one day in the year, normally around October, and you must register online.