Book Readings: They’re About Relationships, Not Just Sales

This month we’ve been exploring the topic of preparing for and giving a book reading to help boost your marketing, your self-confidence, and to expand your comfort zone. The best way to gain a standing in your fans (and potential fans minds) is to see and hear you stand before them and share your story with them. Once you’ve given a passionate reading of your story before an audience, your readers will see the passion inside you that drove you to write the story in the first place, creating a connection that readers don’t often get to have with authors of their favorite books.

book reading
Lauren Weisberger reads at Books & Books (FL), July 19

If you think about it, as readers, we often get so consumed by the story and the characters that the author never comes to mind. I personally think that well-written pieces should have that effect on readers, one where the reader feels as though they’re inside the story and can’t hear the author’s, but only the character’s voices. However, once I’ve already fallen in love with a story, I find myself looking into these authors to find out more about them. I want to know how they knew so much about the history of jazz music in New Orleans, or about the intricacies of youth tennis academies, the mechanics of telephone switchboards, or the cobblestone streets of European cities. It gets to the point where I would give anything to sit down and pick the author’s brain to see if any of the characters in their stories were autobiographical, or if they grew up in the city the story took place in, etc. etc.

Just think of people who haven’t randomly stumbled upon your story, haven’t had the chance to have already been consumed by it, and don’t know anything about you. A book reading is your chance to convince those readers that they must have this book, that they must read it, and that they must also tell their fellow bibliophiles all about it.

While performing a reading with the kind of passion that can captivate an audience may terrify some more asocial writers, know that you’re not alone. I often dread social obligations and parties, choosing to shadow a more extroverted, socially affluent friend – however, that’s often because those gatherings are focused on small talk and catching up that I find generally uncomfortable and forced. The opportunity to speak, uninterrupted about something you love seems less intimidating for just that reason – I don’t have to force anything, it’s something I naturally love speaking about. A book reading allows me to prepare what to say in advanced in a way that doesn’t seem contrived, but is just a given part of the expected performance. When I am forced to interact with my audience, it is on the level of answering questions about something that I am deeply passionate about, which is my writing. For these reasons, while preparing for a putting on a book reading may bring about feelings of anxiety and general unease, know that the sense of satisfaction you’ll receive from having the opportunity to give your story a voice, and to gain readers who will stick with you for life will make it all worth it.


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

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

Book Stores, Book Signings, and Media Events for the Self-published Author

Successful book promotion involves both online and offline sales. There are a number of progressive online book marketing tools available for the self-publishing author today, but the tried and true book signing or media event remains quite viable and a lot of fun. Here we’ll take a look at a 3 part approach to promote your book through media events.

Media events and public appearances can fall into any number of categories and include any number of venues (bookstores, radio interviews, television interviews, writing group speeches, presentations, chat room interviews, public forums, and more).

First things first: identify possible venues. You may begin searching media events through your local bookstore. Local bookstores will often collect event calendars and maintain a list of contact people who provide those opportunities.

Media contacts often send announcements of upcoming events. Keep tabs on those listings and note if any relate in any way to your book content. It’s generally easy to develop correlations and tailor your approach to make your presentation applicable. When contact information is available take the first step and approach the organizer.

The art of selling—be prepared to promote yourself and your work. The true art of selling is bringing helpful and enriching information to people’s lives. In that light, sales takes on nobility. Be proud of promoting. You may not close the deal every time, but be sure to follow-up with every prospective media venue to confirm dates. Selling yourself and your book is a numbers game, and as any salesperson will tell you, the amount of contact is directly proportionate to the amount of sales. Be persistent without being annoying. If, after three or four unsuccessful attempts with a particular venue, move on to another prospect.

Finally, your self-publishing firm may offer assistance. Be sure to check with your representative.

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Setting up book signings for self publishing authors

How would you like to sell more copies of your book? Would you like to read excerpts from your book to a captivated audience?

Book signings at local bookstores are one of the cornerstone of an author’s post-publication foundation. But how do you set them up?

Organizing book signings, readings, and public appearances is one of the most important parts of a successful marketing campaign.

A book signing or reading is a bookstore event that features you and your latest book. This is your opportunity to meet potential buyers face to face. Plus it adds a personal touch to your promotion efforts.

Many customers may feel more motivated to purchase a copy of your book if they hear it explained or read from your point of view. And the opportunity to get a copy signed by the author doesn’t hurt, either!

Independent book stores and larger chain retailers both organize book signings. Your chances for finalizing an appearance are greater with the local independent stores. They have to compete with larger chains and are therefore more willing to support local (and self-published) authors.

In order to pinpoint potential book stores, check your local newspapers or see if book retailers in your area offer a “calendar of events” or post upcoming events on a public bulletin board.

By asking around for the owner of the store or the communications manager you can typically find the appropriate person with whom to propose your book signing. In many cases, both the large and small retailers will have their events planned weeks or even months in advance. Plan early.

When you have a list of people and/or stores you plan on contacting, prepare your pitch. Have a small script that outlines what your book is about and why people would be interested in meeting you or reading the book. The store manager or PR person will most likely ask. After all, they are not there just to help you. They are there to make money selling books. Tell them why your book will make their store money.

If your subject matter is timely, all the better! Remember, this is the point during which the store manager or book buyer will be screening your presentation skills, either over the phone or in person. If they are not captivated by your presentation, they will have very little faith in your ability to captivate a crowd. Be extroverted and dynamic.

It also helps to be concise. Understand that these are busy people. You want to sell them on your event fast. Have your press release and/or sell sheet ready. It’s helpful in case they ask for a copy or if they ask about specific information about the book. They may want to know the retail price, the discount, and the ISBN number immediately so they can order a review copy themselves prior to deciding.

Provide them with your web site address. They might be impressed enough by your initial marketing initiatives to go forward with the book signing.

Offer to help them with promotion, especially if you’re targeting smaller book stores. They will be more interested in offering to host an event if they know you will be absorbing some of the burden of marketing it. Tell them all your friends and family will be attending the event (and then make sure to invite your friends and family!), and if it’s within the scope of your marketing budget, offer to advertise in the local paper at your expense. Remember, the easier you make it for the book store owner or manager, the more likely they will say yes.

Follow-up with prospective book stores who have not confirmed dates. Selling yourself and your book is a number’s game, and as any salesperson will tell you, the amount of contact is directly proportionate to the amount of sales. So be persistent without being annoying. If you experience three or four unsuccessful attempts with a particular store or person, move on to another prospect.

And don’t forget your signing pen…

Good luck and have fun!

The Face of Book Signings is Changing

As a new author, there is nothing more special than having your first book signing. Seeing the crowd that is anxious to meet you, talking to them about your book, selling copies on the spot — all of these things can cause even a serial author to have butterflies in their stomach. After all, you have worked so hard to write and publish your book. Shouldn’t you be entitled to a bit of celebration?

Book signings are also a rather inexpensive way to connect with your audience. However, according to an article the appeared on the New York Times website yesterday, that’s about to change – for the author’s fans at least. The decline in brick and mortar bookstore sales is forcing store owners to seek out other potential revenue streams. Some of these stores have decided to start charging customers to meet the author. The staff will then require a ticket before they can get in front of an author.

This is a good idea for well-known authors, but what about self-publishing authors who are using this as a publicity move? How many people would pay to see an unknown author? This is going to present a new set of challenges for those who have recently published or are publishing soon as many times this exposure can be critical to reaching interested readers in your community. this is one good reason to keep your marketing online with things such as virtual book tours, Twitter parties, online book signings, etc.

Also, another key point in the article is that neither the author or publisher receive any proceeds from the fee the store is charging consumers. That’s a bit odd, don’t you think?