I have set up a number of my own book signing and marketing events. Here are a few things I have learned that you might try. Most of my events occur outside, so some of these suggestions may not be appropriate for all venues.
l. Buy brightly colored balloons to display outside the event. These create movement and draws attention to the event.
2. I usually have a paper craft available to do at the event. These are something simple that might appeal to all ages, especially children.
3. Don’t rely on the venue to do all the publicity. It is important for the author to do some of their own. Your own news releases, flyers, emails and other forms of publicity will help get the word out about the event. People sometimes need to see the publicity in several places for them to remember.
4. Have a raffle. People like to turn out at events if they see that they might win a prize. I usually give away one of my children’s books. I have people put their name and phone number on a ticket and ask the store to call the winner a day later to come pick up the prize. That way the prize winner will return to the venue and maybe purchase another book.
5. Have the event in a location where there is likely to be a captive audience. I recently did a signing and demonstration at the Gallery at the Network in downtown San Luis Obispo during Art After Dark, an event the first Friday of each month. There were plenty of people walking downtown visiting various shops and galleries which meant a good flow of traffic.
6. At some locations, I might have a small grouping of chairs for readings if the venue lends itself to such a grouping.
7. Food is important. For a children’s book event at Whiz Kids Toy Store, we had popcorn, appealing to kids and adults alike. Food helps to create a festive atmosphere. Even if I am on the street, I have a bowl of candy or cookies.
8. Have an inviting display. At my own events, I usually have stuffed animals on my table, my books in a display rack, a bright table cloth and colorful signs and banners. I like to engage people in conversation as much as possible. I have brochures, business cards, bookmarks, newsletter copies and a clipboard to gather email addresses on your table.
9. If on the street, remain standing and talk to people. Don’t sit at the table and look bored. Be lively and engage potential buyers in conversation.
Now it is your turn. Please share your suggestions about what works or doesn’t work for you at your events.