If you’ve been considering hosting a local author event in a unique or non-traditional venue, this guest post by Beatrice Beard will be a big help. By getting out into the community, building relationships with local businesses, clubs and organizations, you can strategically create some buzz and excitement around your book AND create a win for the venue, as well.
If you’re trying to come up with creative or unique ways to promote your book through events, there are a lot of options.
The reality is, you can book an event for book promotion at nearly any kind of venue. From coffee shops to craft beer breweries, there are so many options out there.
One of the great benefits of doing an event in a non-bookstore venue is that there won’t be any author competition.
Here’s what you should keep in mind when you consider your next venue.
There are many venue options if you want to do an event in a non-bookstore market. If it makes sense for your buyer audience and the venue’s customers, then it should be considered.
For example, if your book is about cooking, think about holding it at a gourmet food or professional-quality cookware store in your area. You can do an event in a restaurant, at a bar, at a specialty foods store or fair, and more.
When you’re pitching your event to a location that’s not a bookstore, you have to think about what type of place fits with your readers.
All of your ideas should be based on a thorough understanding of your audience. Where would they be spending time and what are their interests?
Make a list of possible ideas and you’ll see how many places you come up with! Once you have a list of possible locations, you can move to the next step.
Get Value for All
The majority of the time, if you have a great pitch, the store will be able to see the benefit to their business. An event like a book promotion can bring more people to their store, more cross-promotions, and also more sales.
This has to be a two-way street, not just about you. If they’re not sure about what you can bring to the table, be clear that you’ll be running a lot of local promotions for the event.
This can be as simple as putting up a poster at their venue and bringing in free postcards highlighting the event to be given out to customers. Offer freebies at your event and endeavor to make it exciting and memorable.
How to Approach the Venue
You should be ready to show good reasons for a collaboration with the manager or venue owner, because most places won’t be sure what to expect.
Maggie Ritter, a book marketing blogger at Brit Student, says to her readers that you should:
be prepared with a list of benefits for the store and what your exact plan is. Find out who the owner or the manager of the store is, so you can ask for them directly when you go.
Tips for Your Pitch
If you’re looking to run your event in a major chain like a Costco, Starbucks, or Hallmark, there are some things you should keep in mind.
A chain like this is allowed to host a certain number of local events each year – which means you won’t need to go through their corporate office to organize it. This makes the process a lot easier.
Much can vary from store to store, so go to a couple of your local stores and speak to the store manager to verify what they are both willing and able to do.
When you go in, choose a weekday or a day that there isn’t another event going on. You want to try and ensure that the manager will have time to speak with you.
Ask the manager if they would be open to hosting an event with a local author. Aim to plan your event over a month out (possibly more). You shouldn’t be expecting to go in and get an event booked on really short notice.
Start by giving the store a call to see if they are open to the idea of an event and if they’d be willing for you to come in and chat about it.
Explaining the Process
The majority of the venues you reach out to may have never set up an author event before, and won’t have any idea what to expect.
Let them know that you share a common goal – to draw in and satisfy the needs of their customers.
You can bring a few dozen books to the venue, sell using technology like Square or Apple Pay, or sell the books on consignment (the venue can ring it through at the cash register as a special item).
Every store or venue may want to handle this differently, but it’s important that you’re willing to accommodate what works best for them – it will boost your chances of stores agreeing to the process.
While it may be a bit more work for you, the goal is to eliminate as much risk and friction for the venue as possible. Be prepared with many options to offer the store so you seem professional and prepared.
Plan the Event
In the same way as you would plan an event at a bookstore, you want to put a lot of effort into your unique venue event promotion.
Get permission to put up signs and posters, and mention the event and tag the location frequently on social media. Let local media know well in advance of your plans, and be sure to bring giveaways, swag or other promotional goodies.
If your budget is tight, digital gifts and freebies like exclusive links to an excerpt, relevant resources, printable artwork, new material, screensavers or other book-themed content can also work well.
You can also put up flyers in key locations around town or ask the venue to promote the special event via their own website or subscriber list.
If the venue has an online calendar, make sure you get added to it. You should see if there’s a local publication about lifestyle and events, and local newspapers that you can be added to. Reach out to local bloggers and influencers.– Edmund Rosier
How do a bookstore and non-bookstore event differ?
Non-bookstores may not allow the typical talks, readings, or Q&As. But, consider things like quizzes, demonstrations, cross-promotions, giveaways or other activities that relate to your book and will be fun or enticing to customers.
If you’ll be sitting at a table with your books, come up with ways to stand out and draw attention to yourself.
You can even consider teaming up with other authors, artists or creatives to boost your social media reach, bump up attendance at the event, and increase the likelihood of attracting local media attention.
Once you get approved to run an event at a non-bookstore market, you can actually get a lot of experience and exposure.
It’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with new readers and you can even turn it into a regular event.
To summarize, be prepared to sell the idea for your event by drafting a number of plans to make your event stand out.
Think of how you can pitch or sell the idea to the venue and what the benefit will be to them.
Come prepared to the meeting with a ton of relevant promotional ideas, and make sure you make use of your own promotional tools.
Reach out to local media and influencers to get the word out there about your event, and most importantly, start brainstorming now.
You’ll be surprised at how many great ideas you’ll come up with, and maybe friends and family can help you think outside the box, too.
Beatrice Beard, a professional copywriter for Academic Brits, specializes in writing about writing and marketing topics. She loves sharing her personal experiences and struggles with self-publishing books, and provides a lot of advice to other new writers.