Here is the next of the installments I found on book tours, from a company that is closing their doors soon, so I thought I would pass it on to you! I do really enjoy being at a great event. In this article Kevin will give you some tips and pay attention to how to jazz up your event and create a unique and engaging experience for the attendee.
Here’s some of my Golden Rules for speakers:
- Make eye contact with audience and keep your focus on them. You want them to connect with you not “watch” you.
- Make sure you have good posture and your stance is strong. Feet should be almost shoulder width apart.
- Get excited about what you are speaking about. Energy is contagious.
- Adjust your volume and tone throughout the presentation to keep them awake.
- Remember it is all about them – not you, so relax and have fun.
- Get them involved and participating. Take the pressure and work off of you by getting your audience involved. Both parties will have more fun.
- Remember mistakes are learning experiences.
- Don’t try to rush trough a ton of points. It is better if you teach less but more clearly and more interactive way. And if you forget a few things – don’t stress about it as no-one will know.
- Record the event to sell later, to put snippets on your website, or just to watch yourself and to improve your performance.
- Record video testimonials from students during break.
- Speak with power and compassion.
- Pass out freebies or goodies.
There is an exercise at the bottom for you of this article for you. Enjoy.
All the best,
How to Give a Great Event
Last time, we discussed the logistics and bigger questions of setting out on your book tour. We called it “the fun part” of our series and probably jumped the gun. Planning your own book tour may indeed bring you joy (particularly if you the sort who enjoys the challenge of say, finding an hotel vacancy during Thanksgiving weekend), but most likely, you feel like planning is the responsible, adult part of anything (including book tours) you must trudge through before getting to the fun.
Fair enough. Trudge you have. Now we’re at the fun.
You’ve mapped out a block of time you’re going to spend promoting your book. You’ve got a handful of events of varying colors and shapes on your calendar. Wowee. On that date in the not-so-distant future, a group of people will be gathered to hear you, the author, talk about your book.
Neat huh? And unless you’re hammier than Little Richard, kinda scary. You already wrote the book. Now you gotta sing and dance about it too?
Today we’re going to talk about doubling down on the “neat” and minimizing the scary. We’ll do that by looking at the lifecycle of the typical book event and how to push yours it towards awesome at each step.
Ready? Let’s go on tour.
Step 1: Getting People There.
Few of us are The Reverend Billy Graham where the promise of us talking draws a screaming crowd. So you’ll have to do a little hustle to get folks to show up at your book event. And while I encourage any writer with a tour date coming up to list it in community calendars, local newspapers, on BookTour etc. the truth is it won’t matter all that much. Because unless you live on an ice floe, your event is competing against every other choice a possible attendee has for that evening—going to the movies, dining out or just staying at home with a book. Given those options “Look honey! A writer I’ve never heard of reading from a book I’ve never heard of,” rarely wins out.
It’s wise then to plan events that have their own marketing muscle or a built in audience. A bookstore with a strong events program will have an active mailing list and a crowd that shows up just because they trust the store’s taste. Find out which ones those are by attending a few events on off-nights (Monday, in January or when it’s raining) and see how many show up. I also encourage writers to plan non-bookstore events at places that both match the readership of their book and are also where those potential readers already spend their time. Workplaces, conferences, interest group meetings, houses of worship. Put simpler, if you’ve written a novel about beekeepers, should you be holding events at just a bookstore or a bookstore and the local apiarist society?
You’ll still be expected to bring your own crowd. And that means asking friends and family with a firm but sparing hand to help you “fill the room” and buy books. It will only help if the venue has its own crowd already.
Step 2: What should your event look like?
The standard book event goes like this:
- Author is introduced
- Author says a few words about their book then reads a few passages.
- Author answers questions and autographs newly purchased copies.
It’s an old formula but a serviceable one. It just isn’t that exciting for the people who came to see you.
What can you do to jazz up your event? Go back to what sets your book apart from others like it. Then use those differences to create a memorable evening for your audience. Any book about food is remiss not having food at their events. Same with any book about music, movies or any feature which most people enjoy on its face. A travel book event should have photos and slides. Poetry should be read aloud or performed dramatically. An event for a biography should have juicy gossip about its subject and perhaps costumes or giveaways.
The common thread here is playing to the essential uniqueness of the book by creating a unique experience. What makes your book special and how can you make that the backbone of a special evening? Fundamentally, that’s why audience is there. They can find out about your book’s existence in a hundred different ways, most without leaving the house. By asking them to leave the house you are promising them something more than information. You are promising them an evening out.
Step 3: Iron clad rules for a good event.
Every successful book event abides by the following rules.
- Be brief: Assume anyone who comes to your event leads a busy active life. You are asking for an hour of it, which is asking a lot. You show the most respect for your audience by keeping your event short, sweet and leaving them wanting to know more about your book. 30 minutes is ideal, 60 is the absolute maximum. Beyond an hour and your audience just switched from thinking about your book to dinner, money left in their parking meter, the uncomfortable chair they are sitting in. You make whoever invited you angry because a restless audience means fewer book sales. Worse of all, you come across as arrogant and rude, as if nothing in the life of your audience could be more important than hearing about your book.
Asking for your reader’s time is a sacred covenant. Treat it with the utmost respect.
- Be clear: You are the evening’s entertainment and nobody leaves home to listen to mumble. Speak and read how you would like to be spoken to, with clarity, conviction and pizzazz. Make eye contact. Every passage you read should have a beginning, middle and end. State at the top of the event what the structure of the evening will be and stick to it. Address every question asked with respect and thoughtfulness.
- Be willing: Everyone hosting or attending your event is doing you a favor. The answer to anything they ask short of organ donation is “yes.” Yes, you can show up a bit early, yes you will sign autographs afterward, yes someone can have their picture taken with you, and yes you will chat with staff. You do it and say thank you. Each one of these seeming inconveniences is an expression of their deepening interest in you and your book. And each one increases the chances of them inviting you back, recommending your book to someone else or telling their colleagues what a nice person you are.
Anyone who arranges book events has a tough job. If you make it harder, they will hold it against you and your book. Make it a pleasure and it will pay off for a long time after you’ve gone home.
- Be grateful. Book promotion, even touring is hard, tiring work. You will feel crabby and uncomfortable. You will say to yourself at least once a day “this isn’t why I became an author.” And invariably when someone at one of your events asked “How is your tour going?” you may feel the need to vent a little. About how tired you are, about how awkward promotion feels and about how you can’t wait to “get back to your writing.”
Don’t. There are few bigger turnoffs to an audience than an author complaining about being an author. For many sitting there, you are living their dream. For nearly all, going on a book tour seems impossibly glamorous. Complaining about it makes you look like a spoiled brat. No one wants to support the literary efforts of a spoiled brat.
- Be quick on your feet. It’s hard not to get flustered at poorly-attended event. Or one where the staff did a half-rate job. Again, you may be tempted to complain to someone, or at least mutter to the three people who came about the injustice of it all.
Again, don’t. You’ll make whoever came uncomfortable. Instead, see it as an opportunity. Sit down with your small crowd and chat it up. Ask them about why they came, what they like to read. Be the interesting, thoughtful, warm person you are. If they are came, offer to buy them a drink at the nearby bar.
Step 4: Remember why you do this at all.
Fundamentally, every book event is about forming deep connections and relationships between you, your book and its advocates. Ideally the event is both an hour well-spent and an appetizer-sized bite of your book and its wonders. Moreover an event is the living manifestation what you want for your book and its readers—reflecting exactly the type of energy put into it. If you and your events embody these emotions—communalism, warmth, possibility, fun—your new readers will feel the same towards you and your book.
Homework: Imagine then write down what your most successful event will look like.
BookTour.com launched a ten-part series on Book Promotion called “Everything you Wanted to Know about Book Promotion but were Afraid to Ask” written by CEO Kevin Smokler. Kevin has been advising authors and publishers on marketing and promotion for nearly a decade and has written and lectured on the topic throughout North America.
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