poetry reading

Book Readings: Making a Success of the Big Day

Okay, so now you’ve committed to putting on a book reading, and here comes the big day!

Last week, we went over how one prepares for a book reading, but it’s just as important to break down what will happen on the big day itself!

poetry reading

First of all,

  1. SHOW UP.

No excuses. Set aside this time slot and stay committed to it.

Even if there are far less people in attendance than you expected when you do arrive, do not let them down. Give them the same reading you’d give a sold-out theater.

Also, bring your family or some close friends along with you – this guarantees that you’ll at least have some sort of very attentive audience, no matter what.

  1. Be Professional.

There’s a lot that goes under this heading, because being professional is so very important when trying to appeal to new readers and not let down old fans.

Show up on time and start on time – obviously. Don’t keep your audience waiting, some of them may have families or other engagements that they planned around this event.

Do not talk down to your audience, especially to those asking questions who haven’t read your book. Being pretentious won’t sell you books, so even if someone’s question seems silly to you, answer it genuinely and in a way that doesn’t insult their intelligence.

It’s important that you dress well, as well as dress to fit the venue. It may be over the top to show up to a coffee shop in a suit and tie, or to book store in ripped jeans and a tee-shirt.

I can’t think of anything more unprofessional than forgetting to thank your audience and the venue. This can be brief, but it shows that you respect the people who have taken time out of their day to watch you, or who have coordinated with you the weeks leading up to the reading to put on the event.

  1. Get live photos!

If it’s not on social media, then it probably didn’t happen. For those who are too far across the country to make it, but are friends with you on Facebook or follow your Instagram/Twitter, it’s still nice to “see” (even if it’s on a screen) that you’re out there telling your story!

  1. Feel Gratitude

Selling ANY books is something you should be excited about. So you brought 20 copies and only sold 5? That’s FIVE more readers you didn’t have before.

Be grateful for the opportunity given to you by the venue, and by the listeners.

  1. Don’t get yourself down if things go wrong.

Planning out a script at home and reading it to your cat will never be the same as the real thing.

Maybe the mic won’t work, maybe you’ll forget a pen to sign the books, maybe you’ll stutter over the answer to a question.

IT’S OKAY. You’re only human, and so is your audience. Take any potential slip ups in stride, but also feel free to lavishly celebrate if all goes exactly according to plan.

  1. Last but not least, ENJOY yourself.

It’s no small secret that many writers can be sort of recluse. A book reading shouldn’t just be strictly used as a marketing technique, but it should also serve the purpose of getting you out of your shell, speaking freely with an audience of potentially interested readers, and knowing that when you walk away you will have gained a better understanding of yourself as an author and as a person.

It’s not often that you get the chance to stand before others and talk about such an incredible accomplishment that you’ve maybe only shared with your publisher, family, close friends, etc.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM
book reading

Six Steps to Hosting a Successful Book Reading Event!

As an established author, one may come to notice a seemingly inevitable plateau or decline in book sales as time goes on. There are ways, however, to re-engage your fan base and reinvigorate your marketing strategies. One terrific, simple way to do this is to arrange a book reading at your local bookstore, library, coffee shop, university or school, etc.

It is important–whether or not your book is hot off the press–to keep your audience engaged, but also to keep yourself actively engaged in promoting and selling your book. Not only do fans of your work want to see you in person, a book reading can also drum up potential fans who would not have otherwise heard of your piece!

So…the question you may have is, how does one prepare for a book reading?

Come Prepared

  1.  Pick 4 or 5 captivating passages to really draw in your audience. Practice reading these passages to friends, to a mirror, or even to your cat if you feel so inclined. If you want to utilize the camera feature on your smartphone or computer, you can even film yourself to see how your performance will appear to others.

Be Confident, Comfortable, and Relatable

  1.  A great way to relate to your potential readers is to provide your personal reasons for writing the story, or the inspiration behind it. Make sure to come up with key talking points if you’re going to take this approach so that you can talk freely without a  script–appearing confident and comfortable will further inspire people to give your book a chance!

Keep Your Audience Engaged

  1. Make sure to keep a close eye on your audience: if you’ve only made it through some of your material but notice that the crowd is getting restless or checking their phones, change gears and do a Q & A to keep them actively participating. If you’re too busy staring down at your script or book, you’ll miss important body language cues that could help you gauge where you should direct your attention, or perhaps encourage you to take up a more captivating tone or to make better eye contact.

Don’t waste a precious opening by reading out a long list of names, thanking those who helped you publish your book and risk putting your audience to sleep–instead, lure them in, grab their attention, answer their questions, THEN thank whoever you need to thank.

Anticipate Obvious Questions

  1. Don’t fumble when people ask you “What does the title mean?” or “Was the character inspired by a real person?”, etc. etc.

Also, repeat the questions to the audience, you want everyone to know what you’re responding to, not just the person posing the question.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Creative with Location

  1. Remember that bookstores are not the only places to find potential readers. There are a myriad of potentially relevant locations for you to speak at which could span from a woman’s shelter to a community garden to a prison, etc. etc. If your book is about long distance hiking, try a local gear store. The key is, start close to home!

Get the contact information for whatever venue you’re looking to speak at: manager’s name, phone number, and email are great places to start! Describe how your book reading could benefit the business by drawing in customers, resonate with the store’s target customers, increase the likelihood that those there for the book reading will also shop at the store after the event.

Advertise Your Event!

  1. Make sure to publicize your event: flyers, social media posts, mention it in your blog, send a press release to local shopping guides or community calendars.

Remember above all else, it is not up to book stores to sell books, but authors themselves! Be active in the process of marketing and selling your book and the success of your book sales will reflect your hard work!

book reading

[ book readings are a great way to drum up interest in your book! ]


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM
laboratory

Marketing Master Strokes Episode 5: Try Every New Thing

Five weeks ago, we started down this road: a road of positive thinking and proactive decision-making. A road upon which we agreed to stop thinking about the many ways we can mess up the marketing process (Marketing Missteps) and pivoted onto the front foot–to thinking, in short, about the many ways we can succeed instead.  So far we’ve looked at four master strokes, and today we’ll add a fifth, but a word of warning: this one’s not for the faint of heart!

Our first four master strokes asked that we:

  1. be all ears (listening to the stories of others, and keeping an open mind to actually changing your own approach),
  2. be willing to reach our readers where they live (setting aside the ego in order to adapt our outreach methods to best suit our readers),
  3. incentivize! (Or at least, find new ways to make your book look attractive.) And last but certainly not least, our penultimate master stroke requires us to …
  4. play well with others.

But the fifth master stroke?  Well, this is the hardest one of all.  It’s the most difficult to (no pun intended … maybe) master because it requires the aspiring self-publishing author to let go a little.  Okay, a lot.  It requires a complete surrender of the ego, because the ego cannot survive the constant process of optimization, the acceptance that the self doesn’t have all the answers, and that the process of innovation and modification will endure as long as that author remains an author.  Which we hope, of course, is forever.  

So what is this mysterious fifth and final master stroke?

Climb Every Mountain, Ford Every Stream

Okay, okay.  Just kidding.  The real master stroke is:

Try Every New Thing. Try A New Thing Regularly. Daily. Always.

… and of course I might have summarized this as “optimize the crud out of your marketing process,” but that’s as clear as mud.  What does it actually mean to “optimize”?  It means to try new things.  To try every new thing.  To try a new thing regularly. To try it daily.  To try it … always.  And to observe, listen carefully to what the data is telling you, to use your intuition to sense when there’s a quantifiable trend and when the numbers are actually calling for a change in method.  It requires us not to be afraid, to in point of fact be brave, and be brave often, to think creatively about every obstacle in our path.  To push through self-doubt and disappointment.  To see clearly amidst the blinding glitter of success.

To think about life and being an author and marketing as some kind of laboratory, where experimentation is the rule and not the exception–and where, like good scientists, we document our progress thoroughly so that we can track, exactly, which outcomes can be attributed to which changes in method.

laboratory

Look, I realize I’m treading on unstable ground here.  I don’t advocate authors give up on their own ideas altogether.  Self-publishing is a safe-haven for those who want to hold true to their personal vision of what’s good and what’s right for them, in the face of a cynical world and the influences of a hostile traditional publishing institution.  I think we need to protect and cultivate the ideas that are different, outside of the box, and unique to you.  What I mean by “sacrificing the ego” and so on and so forth is that we give up on closing our minds off to the real heart of innovation.  And the innovator’s approach, as you’ll already be well aware, is a joyful heart that embraces new approaches and new ideas–if they work.  So let’s find out if they work!  As your final master stroke, I challenge you to go out and try something new–whether it’s a new social media platform, a new promotional offer, a new collaboration, or any number of other ideas–every day of the week.

Go forth and innovate!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM
playing

Marketing Master Strokes Episode 4: Play Well With Others

We launched into a new series three weeks ago, the moment when we agreed to stop thinking about the many ways we can mess up the marketing process (Marketing Missteps) and pivoted instead to thinking about the many ways we can succeed instead (hence, this series: Marketing Master Strokes).  Our first master stroke required us to  be all ears (listening to the stories of others, and keeping an open mind to actually changing your own approach), and our second required us to  be willing to reach our readers where they live (setting aside the ego in order to adapt our outreach methods to best suit our readers), and our third master stroke was all about the incentives!  Or rather, why making your work look appealing as a product using special deals, discounts, and giveaways is a good idea.

But that’s all boilerplate.  What you’re really here for–what you’re really interested in this week–is figuring out what our fourth master stroke will be. And no beating around the bush, here it is:

Playing Well With Others

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife,” wrote Jane Austen in the opening lines of Pride and Prejudice. But an even more pertinent truth, one that is in fact played out over the course of Austen’s novel and every other masterpiece of the global literary canon is this: Success, no matter how a person defines it, relies upon building human connections. Smart men and women, business leaders, and CEOs of major corporations know that this means playing well with others–even though this doesn’t mean pandering or compromising your vision and work ethic.

playing

So what does this look like for the self-publishing author?  Building personal connections with fans and fellow authors and industry experts over social media is one thing, but that isn’t all a person can do, right?  Partnership is more than just tweeting at each other occasionally and tagging each other on Facebook posts.

Partnership Means Collaboration–Real Collaboration

And most self-publishing authors, no matter where they’re at in their publishing journey, could benefit from strong, dynamic, and useful collaboration.  It’s important not to neglect social media–it’s a vital and important step in reaching out to other authors and figuring out what your common interests are–and there’s a lot to be said for other surface-level inquiries to local bookstores, libraries, and event venues.  (And don’t neglect nonprofits, PEO groups, and other passion/interest groups–they may not have a permanent physical address, but if they choose to back you as an author, there’s no one better to have in your corner than a set of really capable, really driven people–like those who run these groups!)

Collaboration can look like:

  • pairing up with another author or multiple authors to host a book discussion or workshop together;
  • gathering several other authors together and applying to run a booth at a local book fair, or a panel at a “con” (convention);
  • conducting interviews with other authors and sharing them on each other’s websites, providing insight into the authorial process; and
  • co-writing short stories or novellas together, to be distributed as giveaways or free to the public online.

I’m sure you can think of many other good ideas!  The point is to think outside of the box, and to predict what your readers will want before they want it–and of course, to have a lot of fun while at it.  There’s nothing more refreshing than discovering like-minded authors and building a community that supports and champions each others’ work.  Trust me: even the most introverted and anti-social author needs people, and on terms that benefit everyone.  Playing well with others isn’t just some buzzword or catchphrase to get your attention.  Successful authors all point to collaboration and partnership as one of the hallmarks of their process, and that’s why it ranks as one of our master strokes.

Go play!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM
icomiccon

Marketing Master Strokes Episode 3: Incentivize!

Two weeks ago, we stopped thinking about the many ways we can mess up the marketing process (Marketing Missteps) to thinking about the many ways we can knock this marketing thing out of the park–and so this series, Marketing Master Strokes, was born.  Our first marketing master stroke?  Being all ears.  (Which is to say, listening to the stories of others, and keeping an open mind to actually changing your own approach.)  And our second?  Being willing to reach your readers where they live, which we elaborated upon to explain involves setting aside the ego in order to adapt your outreach methods to best suit your readers.

But what about a third Marketing Master Stroke?  Well, it’s going to be one that rings a few bells, plucks a few strings, or sets off a few sparks of memory–because we write about it a lot here on Self-Publishing Advisor.  We use a lot of different names for it and we come at it from all kinds of different angles, but what we’re here to talk about today is the deceptively simple concept of incentivization–about motivating your potential readers to become actual readers, in point of fact.  How do you make purchasing your book an inviting proposition?  How do you make it an inevitability?

The format of your book makes a big difference.  If you offer both digital (e-book and in many cases, audiobook) and analog (physical paperback or hardcover) copies of your book, I recommend breaking down your approach into separate fronts.  Incentivization by way of promotion and marketing looks so dramatically different between those two categories that it’s almost worth–or rather, probably worth–doing one at a time, so that you can throw the sum total of your energy and concentration into addressing each format separately.

Digital Formats

Whether we’re talking about an e-book or an audiobook, digital formats offer some truly exciting possibilities for incentivization.  Amazon automatically offers the first ten or so pages for free (the so-called “first chapter freebie“) and you can replicate this on your blog and with other online retailers.  Curating your own freebie chapter isn’t an option with Amazon, but it is when you choose the method of delivery via blog or email, and I highly recommend taking the time to edit what makes it in to your freebie–this gives you an edge over the Amazon preview, which often cuts off in the middle of a paragraph.  Make sure the freebie ends with some sort of natural cliffhanger or emotional hook, to keepyour readers coming back!

Perhaps the greatest weapon in your digital arsenal is the option to offer timed discounts and sales.  Because you control the base price as a self-publishing author, you get to shape your own sales!  You can time them to coincide with events of national interest (say, Father’s Day or the anniversary of Amelia Earhart’s final fateful voyage–you know, only relevant to you and your work) or you can use the calendar as a guiding star.  Sales tend to find success when they close on the last or first day of a month, holidays, and so on.  Why are sales so important?  Because they create a sense of urgency.  Offering a constant “discounted” price does nothing but soften the impact of your sales pitch, but a timed sale?  Readers often just need that last little bit of motivation to move from “thinking about it” to “take my money!”  Or at least, that’s my experience in bookstore checkout lines.

Physical Formats

We’ve talked a lot about these strategies, and I don’t want to bore you to tears, but don’t forget to work your way through the entire checklist:

  • Book Readings (a great centerpoint for a sale, by the way)
  • Book Fairs (ditto that!)
  • Giveaways & Merch (you don’t want to leverage these as bribes for reviews, but you can certainly use them to incentivize coming to other events where your books are sold, or to encourage the sort of general enthusiasm for your work that will naturally lead to reviews!)
  • Limited Edition Offers & Bundles (comic book authors have created some really good models for bundles that you can use for inspiration, and creating short runs of specialty covers is also a specialty of theirs; don’t hesitate to mix it up to build demand)
  • Insider Access (readers want to feel special for being your fans, and you should reward this impulse; maybe the purchase of a book becomes a ticket to an author interview via Google Hangouts–or maybe it gives them access to a limited-access “behind the scenes”  page on your website? The options are endless!)

comic con booth

Go find your readers!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM