Organizing events around your release date
If you’re the type of person who loves to socialize and meet with readers, you’re probably wondering what steps you should take to arrange a bookstore event surrounding your publication day. Here’s the rundown:
You’ll want to start reaching out to bookstores at least four months before your release date. The earlier you can contact bookstores, the better, especially if you’re looking at stores in major cities like New York or Los Angeles. For a small town bookstore, though, three months’ notice may suffice.
Before contacting a bookstore, it’s important to find out whether or not they host events because not every bookstore does. Peruse their website and see if they have an event calendar. If they do, dig a little deeper and see if they offer the type of event you’re looking for (in-person, online, storytime, book signing, etc).
Approaching the Bookstore
Before approaching the store to request an author event, make sure you have everything in order. You’ll need a press release that contains your book data (such as ISBN and release date) and any pertinent ordering information such as discounts.
You’ll also need to let the bookseller know how many people you can draw to the event. Bookstores often have to pay employees overtime to work events, and having an approximate audience size helps them estimate book sales, which in turn gives them an idea of the kind of profit they’re looking at. Do NOT tell the store you can draw 100 guests to your event if that’s not realistic. You don’t want to ruin your relationship with the store, so always be as honest as possible about attendance size.
Booksellers will also want to know how your book appeals to their own customer demographic. Give them your best elevator pitch and explain why their customers would resonate with your book.
Remember that event coordinators are extremely busy, so be respectful in your communication with them. Try to call ahead or email them instead of dropping in unannounced, as many booksellers won’t have time to meet with authors in the middle of a hectic sales day.
Preparing for the Event
The bookstore agreed to host you–woohoo! Now what?
Make sure you tell the store about any accommodations you may need, such as elevator access, a podium, a PowerPoint set-up, etc.
Prepare your presentation and select the excerpts you’d like to read. Usually the store will give you an idea of how long they’d like you to read for, so be sure to time yourself during your practice reads.
Consider your book signing, if you’re planning one. Decide if you want to sign books ahead of time or during the event, and think about how exactly you’ll personalize the books–do you want to use a catchphrase, add a doodle or share a meaningful remark?
You should also add a buy link to the store’s pre-order page on your website to show them you’re serious about driving sales to their store.
Spreading the News
You want people to show up, so don’t keep your event a secret!
First, tell your publisher and/or publicist about your event plans. This will help them best support you. Your publicity team may contact local media outlets to try to get coverage in advance of the event.
Next, tell everyone you know. Seriously! Add the event information to your author website, send out an email newsletter, and post about it on social media.
Wrapping It Up
After your event, you’ll want to thank everyone at the store who made it possible. You can show your appreciation in a few ways (the more the merrier!) Try:
- Sending a handwritten thank you card to the store
- Purchasing someone else’s book the day of the event
- Sharing photos from the event on social media, tagging the store and singing their praises
If you can, stay in touch with the store and continue to shop there. If you’re a local author, they may invite you back for a book club session or to be a panelist or moderator for future events. Building a strong connection with a store now can benefit you as an author for years to come!
Jackie Karneth is a publicist with Books Forward is 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.