No, not there. Our local library! How did we make this happen?
Get to know your local librarian!
This is Sherrie, who blogs over at Sherrie’s Scriptorium. She’s also the welcoming face we see at one of our local libraries. She loves books and more than tolerates people, which makes her the best possible person to have behind that desk. I had a relationship with Sherrie before my book came out, so that once it was available, I already had an ally in the fight to get my book in the hands of readers.
Network with other authors. I joined the Catholic Writers Guild ages ago and more recently joined my local branch of Sisters in Crime. Both organizations gave me a connection to other authors for times like this.
Come up with some cockamamie theme, ideally having something to do with a holiday. Holidays mean shopping for gifts. Books make great gifts. An author event themed to a holiday sounds like a winning idea to me. And thus…
Design holiday-themed activities to include in your event that get people to mingle and not just stand around feeling shy and awkward. Bookworms and the people who write for them are not exactly known for their extraversion, after all. Valentine’s Day means dating. Speed dating with books (3 minutes with one book, then you have to move on to the next) and blind dates with books (wrapped in brown paper and purchased unwrapped for a donation to the library) were the order of the day. We’re already talking about a possible summer reading event, “Beach Book Bingo.”
Give yourself enough time. Please, people, never do something like this (forgive the language) half-assed and last minute and then complain that nobody showed up. Your audience for this event needs time to hear from you repeatedly, find out which of their friends are going, and then commit to attending themselves in order for your live event marketing to have a hope of working. You could still have a flop, but at least it won’t be for lack of trying.
Sherrie & I threw this together in about six weeks from idea to event. This was as tight a time frame as I’d ever want. I’d prefer to start 8-12 weeks from idea to event. Why so much time? You need to…
Get your librarian and her library on board. You may need time to get the library’s board of directors to approve your event, and that can be tricky, especially during seasons when weather is likely to cancel board meetings.
Organize, mobilize and publicize. Recruit authors from your network to take part in the event, because many hands make light work, and variety has a bigger draw. Organize who’s doing what when (we used SignupGenius.com). Send out press releases 4-6 weeks before your event. Create a Facebook event (if you’re as lucky as I am, your Sherrie will do this for you). Tweet. Instagram, if that’s your thing. Encourage your fellow participating authors to do the same. Together we had a longer reach, and by including other authors in this stage of the game, I got several new media contacts to whom I was able to send the PR, which is always a good thing.
Enjoy your event! The weather was not great, but we still had some readers come join us. Most of us sold books. I showed up with two boxes of items for my display table and left with just one!
Here’s the speed dating table…
I also suggested people bring a food to share with readers that connects to your book. Top left corner has your tomato pie, fo sho, but also take a look at the little “A Good Book” sandwiches another librarian on staff that day made with tortillas. Deliciously cute! Carolyn Astfalk, whose book isn’t even out yet, brought “Rebecca’s Fantasy Fudge,” which is part of her forthcoming novel, and bookmarks with the recipe on them, fantastic ways to get potential readers to hang on to your info and keep you in mind when your book release date gets closer.
So, even though we did not have a HUGE crowd, we had some crowd. Best of all, though, we writers had an opportunity to share our writing lives with others.
Many thanks to Sherrie and the Atglen Public Library for hosting us! Let’s do it again some time. Also, do check out Sherrie’s blog, where she’ll have a list of links to all the “Fall in Love With a Good Book” participating authors. Have you ever put together an author event like this one? Do you have any tips to add? Do you need some additional ideas on how to organize your own event? Comment below and let’s share brains!