Attending a festival or book event as an author can seem intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. But it can be so much fun, and hugely helpful to your writing career! As things (maybe) start to be in-person again, here are some tips to help you make the most of your time.
Before the event
- Connect with previous attendees: ask them what they enjoyed last year and if they will be there again this year.
- See if the event has a list of people who will be there this year, and reach out to anyone you’re excited to meet and tell them just that. Try to set up a time to meet for coffee or something similar.
- After registering, see if there is a panel or discussion you can take part in. If you don’t see one, email the organizer to let them know what you can speak on — it can’t hurt to try!
- Look at the schedule of events ahead of time to plan your days. You will likely not be able to do everything, so you want to maximize your time.
- Check the social media hashtag for the event and engage with fellow attendees.
During the event
- Have an elevator pitch for your book. You are likely to meet a lot of people and not spend a ton of time with each of them, so you need to be able to sell yourself quickly.
- Bring lots of business cards, bookmarks, postcards or other swag that people will hang on to! Networking is likely to be one of the most valuable things you can do at a book event.
- Get contact info from people you meet or speak with, when appropriate, so you can follow up with them later!
- Support your fellow authors — buy their books, join their mailing lists and talk with them! They’ll likely want to support you as well.
- Share photos and videos from the event on your social media – allowing your readers to follow along with you!
After the event
- Follow up with anyone you met with, thanking them for their time and referencing something specific you spoke about if possible. Make sure to have a link to your website in your signature, and encourage them to reach out if they have any questions about your book.
- Post recap photos to social media – and tag the appropriate people, publishers, etc. in them.
Ellen Whitfield is senior publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.
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