Now, I’m sure there will be some of you shaking in your boots at the thought of making public appearances – right? Well, don’t worry, they are not as daunting as you might think and are a great way of building interest in your book. And you don’t have to be some super raconteur to be a success at public appearances – you just need some interesting anecdotes to offer up and the confidence to read a chapter or two out loud.
To begin with, you’ll have to do this kind of marketing for free. However, if your book becomes successful, you may get asked to attend meet and greets. If this is the case, it’s likely you’ll be offered payment too.
Where do you want to go? Because, really the possibilities are endless! You can, in effect, speak about your book to a small group of people anywhere – especially if it is an informal meeting. You could arrange to speak to people at your local:
Obviously, some places will be more appropriate for certain books. For example, if you book is for children, you could also target schools, nurseries and playgroups for readings and feedback. But, do be aware that you may need some kind of background CRB check to work with children in any setting.
You can do two different things or, if you are feeling confident, both. You can talk about the process of writing your book, your inspiration or anything else you think your readers might be interested in. Or you can read from your book, which is a great way to give your potential readers a flavour of what it’s about and how you write. If you do this, try to choose a passage that you believe will cause a bit of debate, this’ll make it easier if you want to hold a discussion after the reading.
Think about what else you could offer the people who attend the talk that would make it special for them – what’ll make the effort of turning up worthwhile? It could be something about how the book was written, a funny story that you’ve not spoken about before, free goodies or special offers – something they would not have access to had they not been there in person to meet you. After all, we do like to feel special, don’t we?
But, be careful to get the balance right. You need to give them enough to tempt them to buy the book, but not so much that they feel they don’t need to read it anymore.
After the talk is over, you may want to encourage questions. This is where a friend comes in handy as they’ll be able to get the ball rolling if the audience are too shy. The others don’t have to know that they are a friend of yours and, if you are nervous, they can act as moral support for you too.
You could also arrange a formal book signing for after your talk – this is most likely to be where you’ll get the majority of your sales from, as the people who attend will probably relish the chance of speaking to you one-to-one.
How much preparation you require really depends on how confident you feel with talking about your book and/or yourself and your writing process. Some people can chatter endlessly about themselves and their creative processes. Others don’t feel quite so comfortable, particularly when it’s for self-promotion, and they may feel like they need lots of preparation.
If you are not too confident speaking in front of people, it’s a good idea to write notes for yourself. You can then have these handy, just in case your mind goes blank when you are faced with a set of expectant eyes boring into you – it happens to the best of us! It may also be the case that the act of writing the notes helps to cement the talk in your mind – it always works for me.
If you have trouble speaking in front of groups, it can help if you don’t think of the people as a group, instead focus on one person and talk as if it’s just you and them. As your confidence grows, you can start to engage other listeners. If you would like to know more about the different ways you can promote your book request a free prospectus for our How to Market Your Book course with no obligation to enrol.
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Sarah Plater - Writers Bureau Writer of the Year 2017