There are a variety of different author events in which you can participate in order to introduce your book to a new audience. You want to do so in a way that is appropriate to your book and in a way that helps everyone fall in love with your new literary baby. Always consider the genre and storyline of your book when it comes to your author event's venue and activities. Here are a couple of different author events you could consider for your book.
Book Launch Party
A book launch party in its simplest form is really a book birthday party or a “sip and see,” if you live in a certain part of the country. If you’re a debut author, then realistically you aren’t going to have scores of people you don’t know come to your event. It’s really a celebration with friends, family, colleagues, and people who have “been there for you” through this process to come together and have the opportunity to buy the book. If you choose to have a book launch party, consider having it somewhere meaningful to you or your book, and preferably in a place where those who weren't initially invited have the potential to be drawn by the crowd and learn more about your book.
A book launch party often has some type of refreshments—of course, the food should match the genre of your book. If it’s a children’s picture book, then tequila shots would most likely not be the beverage of choice. At the same time, if it’s a book on the cultural food markets of New York City, animal crackers and juice boxes probably aren’t going to cut the mustard. You can consider incoporating the below into your book launch party activities as well.
Choose a few pages to read from that don’t need a lot of set up description. It should be a section that is able to stand on it’s own and make sense to a great degree without relying on context that isn't included in the section you read. Big bonus points if it makes the audience laugh or cry. If it makes them cry, find another short passage to bring them back up to smiles. Nothing is a party-killer like the endless flat intonation of an author reading their book for 20 minutes, so find something that lasts 5-7 minutes tops, is an ideal taste of your book, and leaves them wanting more.
Your total presentation should be about 20 minutes max, then allow for some time for Q&A. If someone gets verbose or starts to wrestle the event away from you with words, find a polite way to stop them—something like, “That’s a great point! We’ve got to move on, but let’s you and I catch up on this later.” And then call on someone else.
Be sure to thank the bookstore, if it is in a bookstore, and make a plug for the audience to buy something while they are there. Hopefully your book, but if not, then something else. And remind them that book events are possible because bookstores open their doors to the community and the community should support them. The bookstore will love you forever!
Out-of-the-Box Author Events
Beyond the Author Reading
If you are doing something other than a reading and want to have a bit of an out-of-the-box event, you could consider getting creative. If you have a friend who is a local author (especially if you’re doing an event outside of your own town), ask if they’d do an event with you and you can play off of each other with a fun, chatty format while capitalizing on the draw from both author's audiences. If you do an event like this, be sure your books have something in common with one another. The other author could interview you about your book and vice versa as well. Play off of your strengths and the book's foundation. For example, if you are a musician and there is something about music in your book, by all means, ask if you can add a little extra spice by performing a song or two if appropriate.
Beyond the Bookstore Venue
If you aren’t doing an event in a bookstore, you could choose a venue such as a charming local wine bar—something that has been popular with our events is to include on the invitation that the first 20 (or whatever) people to come or to buy a book (your choice) will get a ticket for a free glass of wine. Make arrangements with the wine bar ahead of time, but incentives like this help boost your audience attendance as long as you promote it. Maybe your author event would do well at an art gallery, library, train station, cemetery, garden, zoo, farmers market, or a museum of some sort. Think about your book and what could tie in nicely. And while outdoor venues can be great, always have a rain option in your back pocket.
Handling Book Sales
Decide if you are going to sell the books yourself—if so, get a square for your phone so you can take credit cards, or ask your local bookstore to do an off-site event with you. Whatever you do, make sure you or the store selling the books has enough copies in stock. A store will know how many books they generally sell at an event, so if you're hosting one yourself, maybe ask your local bookstore the amount of copies they'd suggest you have onhand for a book like yours.
We’ve done everything from fried chicken picnic luncheons with lemonade for Southern-influenced books to the Friars Club in New York City and a sunset cruise with appetizers and libations from the book for a cookbook. Your author event should be an extension of your book and your creativity and should allow people to genuinely experience it, however that may be.
Get creative and have fun!