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High Turn-Out for Author Events Requires Smart, Sustained Effort


Unless you're perched high atop the New York Times bestseller list,you'll need to be clever and work hard to pack the house for your author signing, reading or launch. That's the word from a 2012 BookExpo America (BEA) panel of experts led by Dee Dee DeBartlo and Gretchen Crary from February Partners, and featuring Vivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books, "creativity coach" Stephanie Anderson, and Andrew Kahan from the Free Library of Philadelphia.The tips from these industry experts were gleaned from thousands of author events. They know what works and what doesn't. Let's focus on the former.

  • The essentials include flyers, press releases and posters.
  • You should also leverage your social media networks, primarily Facebook and Twitter, plus your website, to spread the word.
  • Reach out to area book bloggers, book clubs and writers' groups.
  • Establish contact with local universities and libraries.
  • Make friends with reporters from all area media outlets: print, broadcast, cable and online.
  • Announce that you'll be offering your book at a discount at the event.
  • Consider donating a percentage of your sales to a cause related to your book.
  • Look into the possibility of "pairing" your event with something else that people will find interesting, like a wine tasting.
  • And don't forget to seek help from family and friends.

That last one is especially important. Many of us forget to leverage networks from past jobs, college, graduate school, clubs, and associations.

When I launched my first novel, Bella, I reached back to my journalism days and found a colleague who once served as president of the National Press Club. He agreed to host the event, meaning we got a room at the club, plus serve as master of ceremonies. We began work months in advance and had an awesome turnout.

I also made sure to capture footage that was ultimately crafted into the official launch video. The first line of the script: Bella is now among the thousands of stories launched at the National Press Club. You can watch the short piece here on my YouTube Channel.