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News, Tips, Trends and Miscellany for Book Publicists

Getting people to show at author events, the music way

On Saturday, I attended a Harvardwood panel entitled “Making music in tough economic times.”  Music is often compared to books, in part because book publishing is facing the same digital growing pains the music industry did several years back, in part because concerts and literary readings often draw similar audiences.

I asked the panelists about concert promotion, since a little-known band or singer and a mid-list author face much the same challenge in getting people to show up for events.  They suggested double billing — something bookstores do sometimes when they can find two “matching” authors available on the same day — and also finding an audience locally using the online tools at our disposal (which for the music industry continues to be MySpace — probably because it remains one of the few social networks on which you can post music tracks).

What are your favorite ways to promote author events?  What have you found to be the most effective?  Traditionally, book publicists have relied on scheduling author interviews to promote events, but with interview opportunities drying up, do you find yourself spending more time on online event promotion?

May 4, 2009 - Posted by | Book Tour, Events | ,

5 Comments »

  1. Yen, this is interesting and something we wrestle with often. There is a downside for booksales in having authors double up for an event. It’s great for the author who is new or unknown. However, especially in the current economy, audience members tend to choose which book to buy and don’t buy both (at least in my experience recently with a variety of authors on tour). So its not always a win for one or both of the authors. I work to partner with the bookstore and a group or orgaization in that community that might be interested in learning more about the subject of the book. It can be an “onsight” event or an event held at the location of the organization co-sponsoring. We’re always trying to find new ways to broaden the base for the bookstore and our client.

    Comment by Julie Schoerke | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  2. I do a lot of online promotion for my upcoming poetry book and readings, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Red Room, local publications events calendars, and postcard direct mailings. I recently found a great site for authors to post all their events by zip code and find events and organizations hosting events too – http://www.booktour.com/signup?referrer=14244

    Comment by Alice Shapiro | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  3. I think Julie makes an excellent point. I have also found that reaching out to a group or organization in the area that might have a direct interest in the book is a very effective way in not only drawing an audience, but also making the event entertaining by generating discussion between the author and participants. This in turn usually draws in regular shoppers that would have otherwise ignored the reading. In addition, this method can lead to some unforeseen, but certainly wonderful, publicity if the said group agrees to sell the book on their site and/or market it to their members and affiliates.

    Comment by Jacob Schroeder | May 4, 2009 | Reply

  4. In Italy they seem to do a lot of “presentations”, in which a more established author introduces and talks to a new one at an event, giving the public a reason to attend, but focussing most of the actual in-event attention on the new writer.

    Comment by Rob | May 6, 2009 | Reply

  5. I tend to appreciate an author who does more than just show up and read/sign the book. It also helps if the author in question has some personality above and beyond the monotone reading that many writers seem to have. Heck. Free wine works too.

    Comment by michaelsean | May 6, 2009 | Reply


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