Pitching real-time lectures, talks, and seminars is a great way to promote your self-published book to local venues. Not only will these book promotion events offer you unbeatable opportunities to sell more books—you’ll also reach new audiences, develop your reputation as a writer, and establish yourself as an expert in your field.
But here’s the tricky part: MANY authors are pitching promotion talks to libraries, schools, and community groups. So you may have some tough competition! Self-Publishing Relief knows that in order to convince event coordinators and program directors that YOUR book promotion event deserves a coveted slot on the schedule, you may need to use some creative writer ingenuity to develop an amazing speaking event for your self-published book.
Reading Events: Why “Good Enough” Isn’t Good Enough
For some writers, approaching an event coordinator or program director and offering to give a reading from their self-published books turns out to be a fantastic idea that is met with lots of enthusiasm.
Other times, it may not.
Many new writers may find they need to offer something more intriguing than a simple reading and book signing in order to convince program directors to give them some time in a crowded calendar of literary events.
Most of the time, people who show up to hear an author read from a newly published book are people who are already familiar with that writer’s work. Some are die-hard fans who fill seats and wait eagerly with their preordered copies ready to be signed. Others show up in order to hear the writer speak and to score some bragging rights for having met their favorite writer in person. (Or, let’s face it, they are the writer’s friends and family who have come to support their loved one—which is nice, but means little when it comes to making inroads into new audiences.)
For readers who aren’t already familiar with an author’s work, personal interest might be enough to tempt them to attend a reading and book signing. But because modern life is busy and filled with lots of options for entertainment, those readers might be just as likely to stay home and watch Netflix rather than risk a potentially boring lecture from an unknown author.
If you’re a writer who already commands a big readership, an author reading may be a great way to energize your pre-existing audience and get them excited about the launch of your new self-published book. But if you are just beginning to make a name for yourself, you may find that simply holding an author reading and book signing won’t entice readers to your event.
What Kinds Of Events Build Your Readership And Sell Copies Of Your Self-Published Book?
Some authors make a fundamental mistake when they are trying to come up with an idea for a book promotion talk: They approach the project with a “what’s in it for me” attitude. And while selling books and building a reputation as an author are legitimate reasons for trying to schedule book promotion talks and seminars, audiences show up for such events with the exact opposite idea in mind.
Readers—at least those who don’t already have a relationship with the author—are motivated to attend a book event based on what they will get out of it, not what they can do for the speaker. In other words, what’s the payoff for readers who show up? What is the takeaway value of this event?
Here are two possible payoffs that will effectively promote your book and also intrigue readers enough to show up to hear it.
Information Payoff: Sometimes, readers are willing to turn out for the event of an unknown author in order to learn skills or gather information that can be helpful in their lives. If your book is nonfiction or a how-to, you already have lots of built-in takeaway value to explore. If you’ve written a novel, you could talk about how to get a book published or how to overcome the challenges of writing. If you have written a memoir about beating cancer, you might discover that an audience of people who are facing the same struggle will show up to hear what you have to say.
Freebie and Giveaway Payoff: You may want to consider building enticements into your author talk. For example, you could host a contest that invites attendees to enter by subscribing to your author email list. One chosen winner at the event will receive a prize. The bigger the prize, the more likely it is to lure people to hear what you have to say.
How To Create A Book Promotion Proposal That Will Make Program Coordinators Say “Yes”
Now that you have some idea about what makes people attend a book promo event held by an unknown author, it’s time to consider what topics you might be able to speak about. Here are some tips for coming up with an idea that will interest event coordinators and readers alike!
Pinpoint your audience. You may be able to come up with a talk about—oh, say—farming, but if your book is an urban, gritty crime thriller, investing your time in a farming lecture probably won’t sell copies of your book. Ideally, schedule book promotion events at places where your target readership is already in attendance.
You should also consider the physical location of your event when putting together your pitch ideas. Here are some examples of local venues that may be willing to host your lecture or seminar. Tailor your pitch for each location:
Houses of worship
You’ll need to tailor each book promotion event pitch to meet the interests of your audience. If you are pitching a talk to a writing conference, stick with a topic geared toward knowledgeable writers. If your talk is for booklovers who may have an interest in the subject matter of your book, then you want to craft a talk that is entertaining, fun, and informative about your subject matter.
Make use of your unique talents. Have your life experiences given you some particularly useful knowledge or insider perspective? Perhaps your hobby of traveling has made you an expert on how to move around the world with confidence and ease—and it also ties into your book. You may want to pitch a seminar to coffee shops or libraries about how to stay safe when traveling (and of course, you can offer to sign copies of your book during the lecture as well).
Come up with a great title for your seminar. A seminar title like “Self-Publishing A Book” isn’t nearly as engaging as a title like “The Independent Writer’s Guide To Making A Killing With Self-Publishing.” The more specific and clever your title, the better. Learn more about how to write powerful titles.
Team up. Sometimes, there’s strength in numbers. Connect with other self-published authors and see if you can come up with an idea for a joint seminar. Often, multi-author talks draw larger crowds.
Make It Easy For Venues To Say YES To Your Book Promotion Talk Or Event
Once you have a few great ideas for different events in mind, it’s time to start pitching your book promotion talk to various venues. Here are some tips that will encourage event coordinators and program directors to put your idea on the schedule.
Bring a gift basket. Offering a small gift basket of assorted promotional items related to your self-published book can help you start off on the right foot—and strongly imply that your goal is to give, not to receive. Things to include in your gift basket could be: copies of your self-published book, promotional bookmarks, or gift items like candles with scents related to your book’s location. Learn more about how to create a gift basket to promote your book.
Pitch with a smile. Whenever possible, strive for a face-to-face appointment as opposed to an impersonal email. Your odds of success rise when a coordinator sees how enthusiastic and personable you are!
Include a press release. Event coordinators might get into the spirit of your talk when they discover your book already has a promotional press release. This will a) get them excited about your event, and b) make them aware that it’s one less thing they have to do when planning the event—because you’ve already done it! Also, consider including a little bit of information about your local fan base: If you have many fans on social media or you have a large mailing list, share your numbers so that event coordinators understand that you will be a strong promotional partner (as opposed to a writer who passively relies on a host’s PR efforts).
Brag about your book. Include a short summary of your book. Whenever possible, be sure to highlight acclaim and accolades, such as review quotes, endorsements from famous writers, number of four- or five-star reviews on book review websites, or even sales figures.
HINT: You also may want to include feedback from people who have attended your previous book promotion events. Quotes about how much fun attendees had or how much they learned can be encouraging to event coordinators.
Summarize your event. Create a short, one-page summary about the event you’re pitching and emphasize audience takeaway value. Your summary might also include a list of alternative seminars and lectures that you’re willing to give—just in case a similar book promotion event is already on the schedule. Include your author bio and your headshot so event coordinators see you not only as an established professional but as a relatable, interesting person.
Follow up. Be sure to let the event coordinator know that you’ll follow up in two weeks (or other appropriate time frame) to see if you’ll be able to work together. Then send a thank-you note, regardless of the outcome.
The One Thing You Should Never Do When Creating A Book Promotion Talk
Even though your primary reason for giving a talk might be to build your readership, your intentions could backfire if a seminar that should be helpful and interesting turns into an hour-long commercial to get readers to buy your book.
Avoid this faux pas by crafting a talk or seminar that you yourself would be interested in attending. Treat your audience as readers first, potential customers second.
Question: What makes you show up to an author book promotion event?