Using events to market your book is child’s play

In previous articles, I explored using the Pyramid approach to building your Author Platform. To recap the Author Platform Pyramid consists of three frameworks:

  1. Foundations
  2. Systems
  3. Media

In this article, I’ll be diving into using events to get personal with many people.  It forms part of the Media framework

Owned Vs Borrowed Events and Fan Bases

As with many aspects of the Author Pyramid, you need to distinguish between events that you own and those that you borrow from others. With events it’s most likely that you’re in front of influencers fan bases and on borrowed platforms. As you grow your author reputation you’re more likely to develop your own platform and fan base however the borrowed should still feature as it opens you up to fresh audiences.

Why Events Work Well For Authors

Events are seen by audiences as a great way to get “up close and personal” with an author. Readers understand that there is more to an author than what they read in the pages of their books or what they experience in their signature programs. An event allows them to see the real you and in doing so they get to know, like and trust you and become eager to invest in your work.

Publishing a body of work comes with a great degree difficult and audiences appreciate the effort. It’s this appreciation that accords a celebrity like status to authors which many people are attracted to. Events give the celebrity seeker access to someone, who in their mind, is a celebrity.

There are three types of events that authors should consider adding to their marketing mix:

  1. Micro Events
  2. Virtual Events
  3. Speaking From Stage

Micro Events

As the name suggest, micro events are small, intimate affairs that allow audiences to directly engage one on one with the author. The celebrity seekers are especially attracted to these events for that very reason and authors like them as they get to sell many books. Another plus is the authors ability to question readers to gain insight into planning future publishing projects.

Micro events are a great start point for authors to get used to engaging with the public and many find this the easiest and fastest way to sell their first 1,000 books and to build their own fan bases.

These events use borrowed platforms so to get the best from them you should create a process to transition event visitors into your fan base. Mini competitions and giveaways (ie win a free book) are commonly used tools and don’t forget to ask them to connect with you on your social media platforms.

There are three main types of Micro Events authors can explore:

  1. Book Signings. These aren’t hard to organise as most bookstores and libraries look to book signings as a way to generate traffic into their stores.
  2. Running a market stall can generate good book sales however you need to pick the correct market and work the stand as you’re competing for potential buyers attention with all the other stall holders. Cost is another factor to consider as some markets can be expensive to rent a stall.
  3. Book Fairs and Trade shows. Book fairs are a great place to meet other authors and immerse yourself in the writing community with a bonus being that mainstream publishers often attend looking for potential authors. Trade shows are for the non-fiction writer and work well if the show is aligned with your target audience however the cost can be very high so choose wisely or join together with another exhibitor to spread the cost.

Virtual Events

The internet of things has created the virtual event opportunity which can be owned or borrowed. Naturally my preference is for owned however delivering great value during a borrowed event can result in many book sales along with moving people into your own fan base.

There are three main types of Virtual Events authors can explore:

  1. These work best with non-fiction authors however they are losing their appeal to audiences as most of us have attended webinars that have been long drawn our affairs that degenerate into high pressure sales pitches. They can also take up an enormous amount of time to prepare for and there is no guarantee that they will draw an audience.

Nowadays I prefer to set up a webinar as an “evergreen” webinar. This allows the author to create the webinar once and then re-use it many times over. It’s a big time saver and allows the author to tweak the content to improve conversion rates.

A variation on the webinar theme is to publish the content into a series of mini “training” videos, 10 minutes each seems to work best. The formula that works best is to have 3 content rich training videos followed by a video of testimonials and a call to action.

  1. Live Streaming. Conducting a live streamed video is becoming popular as they are short and easy to prepare for. They allow you to engage with your fan bases across multiple platforms (Zoom, Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo etc) simultaneously. From an audiences perspective they are convenient and don’t take up a lot of time. You should record the live stream and make it available for later replay.

You can easily multipurpose your livestream content into new publishing projects such as an evergreen webinar or a mini training product. The key to successful multi-purposing is to take a very strategic view of the creation process and ensure your content is well planned.

  1. Multi-Day Events. These are the original form of virtual events and give an author access to a huge range of influencers fan bases. They require significant organising effort which is why, for most authors, being a participant on a borrowed platform is the best approach. Multi-day events are usually organised by people who have a big following across a big market niche. The health & wellness and small business markets are among the most popular for these events.

The event organisers are looking for contributors that match their target market and who also have a significant fan base as the key to their success is using cooperative marketing to build up the attendees. The more popular multi-day events charge the audience to attend, very much like a trade show, and they may even charge the contributor for their time slot.

Speaking from Stage

This is my favourite author event. For authors they are relatively easy to prepare for and can give you instant access to large influencer fan bases.

  1. The Big Stage. Being invited to speak to large audiences can open up great opportunities for authors. Personally the largest audience I’ve spoken to numbered over 6,000 and the connections I made were priceless. In Australia, audiences over 500 are rare however any audience over 100 is very worthwhile, as long as you remember to ask them to connect directly with you.
  1. Paid Vs Unpaid. Ultimately an author wants to be paid for speaking from stage however this is very unlikely until they have built a speaking reputation that delivers quality content and that entertains along the way. To be successful, you need to develop a “signature speech” that can be fine-tuned to the audience and join a “Speakers Association” that will help you find work. A downside of a paid gig is that it’s very much frowned upon for the speaker to ask the audience to buy something or connect directly with them, after all the organisers view the payment as a gesture of exclusivity.

Unpaid gigs are a great place to learn the craft and can still be very lucrative. One of the often unsaid benefits of unpaid gigs is the opportunity to pitch your book and ask the audience to connect with you. The organisers see this as a low cost way to compensate you for your effort. As long as your speech isn’t one big sales pitch, you will get invited to many more opportunities.

  1. Seminars and Workshops. These are micro speaking gigs and a great way to get in front of and personal with, a highly targeted and responsive audience. I usually add a workshop or “ask the expert” component which gains massive “know, like and trust”. Having a suite of signature speeches that you can tweak to suit the audience will kick your speaking program along in no time.

Key Takeaways for using events are:

  1. Factor in the personal time you need to make events work,
  2. Measure results and adjust,
  3. It’s about building trust with platform owners so deliver value and don’t always be selling,
  4. Ensure the events you support align with your target market,
  5. Don’t forget to make it easy for the audience to connect directly with you.

I know, building your Author Platform can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. In coming episodes, I’ll be exploring the simple, no BS and low cost approach to building a solid platform that you can leverage for many years to come.

Finally, I want to leave you with one piece of advice:

Using borrowed platforms to access their fan base comes with great responsibility. You’ve been given the opportunity to be exposed to a fan base that the owners have invested money and time to build so don’t abuse that privilege. Remember to deliver value by sharing your insights, entertain and treat the platform owner as your most important customer and you will quickly build a reputation that will deliver a never ending stream of event opportunities.