I’ve been to my share of book fairs, from Las Vegas to London, Mexico and California and along the way I’ve picked up some helpful tips on how to promote your book display. If your book is appearing at a show, whether you’re able to attend or not, there are ways to get the most out of the event and use it to help build buzz around your book. Below are a few tips that will help you with promotion before, during and after an event!
1. Build Buzz.
The moment you sign up for a book fair or event you should begin building buzz around your book being there. Post the event on your social media, write a press release for it, contact a book blogger and see if they’ll interview you about your book and make sure to mention the event. The more you can do to spread the word about your book being at a library, trade show or conference the better. You might ask what the point is of posting about your book being at a show for people who are already your Facebook or Twitter followers but this question really doesn’t make sense to me. First, you should be posting content for your followers and if they follow your page it’s because they’re interested in your book or you as an author. Sharing your news with them should be a no-brainer. Second, never underestimate the power of word of mouth marketing. What one person sees on their timeline could soon become what all their friends see, ask your followers to share your boost or if you have a few extra dollars to spare, boost your post on Facebook (you can do this for as little as $5.00!) and make sure to include a link to your website or listing on the event homepage.
2. Use Graphics!
There’s nothing nicer to post on your page than a beautifully designed poster or picture with the details of your event. If you’re having a book signing this is really important but even if your book is just being displayed on a shelf, it’s important to make a big deal out of it. When a reader or potential reader sees this they think, “Hey this author must be a big deal, maybe I should check them out,” and before you know it they’re clicking buy on Amazon. It’s not a fool proof way of getting sales or website hits but it does help. I can say with confidence that sales of my book The Skinwalker’s Apprentice have always seen a spike right before, during and after an event because I am promoting something other than my book link. Let’s face it, “Check my book out here!” followed by a link to your Amazon gets boring after a while, you need new content and a reason to get readers excited about your book too. I’m a huge fan of the website Picmonkey.com and frequently make tutorials on Thecombinedbook.com/authors site on making your own graphics if you want to check them out. Make sure people know exactly where your book will be! Ask them to check it out or tweet you a picture of it for a retweet, you’ll be surprised how much your social media can be impacted by little things like that. Also, people usually plan their days out beforehand when they go to fairs and events, they could either stumble onto your book by accident or say, “Hey I remember that one book about blah blah blah, I should go check it out!,” or if they see it by chance and remember you posting about it, it might give make them take a look, tweet about it or reach out to you on social media. You never know!
3. Host a Giveaway
You don’t have to give your books away for free like I did above but running a contest or having a book promotion at the same time as a show is a great way to increase traffic to your site and boost sales. You can host a Goodreads book giveaway, provide a coupon for a percentage off at Smashwords if your book is uploaded there or have a contest for a signed book! You can post the contest as a graphic, asking people to like or share to enter and then pick a winner from those who participate. It also helps to ask them to take a picture of them with your book when it arrives and post on their social media, giving you even more exposure from that one giveaway! What happens if you’re not on Smashwords and can’t give coupons and only have eBooks? What about giving away bookmarks? Or a prize pack of items that are related to our characters or stories? Get creative with it, people love free stuff and the better the prize the more attention it will bring to your contest (and your books!).
4. Follow Along Online
If you can’t be at the event your book will be displayed at, the next best thing is immersing yourself in the social media activity surrounding the show. Find out the official hashtag for the show (like #BEA15 for BookExpo America) it’s usually listed on the event site or their Twitter page. Tweet one of your graphics and use the hashtag, retweet authors and publishers who are participating in the show and show your support. Try to follow along with the events by browsing through pictures posted about it on Instagram, comment, like and post your own pictures to help others know your books will also be a part of the show. And if you are at the event try and tweet quotes from author panels, post pictures and videos and give those at home a glimpse of the show and most importantly of your book at the show! While you’re at the show, especially if you have a signing, as people to take a picture with your book and post to their own social media, some people might even do it without you asking! Make sure that your business cards have your social media sites listed so they can easily mention you. Go searching for these posts and retweet them, like and share with your own followers.
5. Know the Rules and Follow Them
It’s always important to know what you signed up for when you pay for a book fair. Do you get your own table? Is your book on display on a shelf? How do people contact you? Know what you’re getting for your money and make sure that you in turn, you follow the rules and regulations of the fair and company you’re working with. Many times I see authors trying to pass out flyers or talk to show attendees in booths they’re not supposed to linger at. This is not only not effective, it could be annoying to those just trying to reach another event or browse the collection of books undisturbed. If you’d like to set your own rules so to speak, the best thing to do is get your own table but if you’re book is part of a larger display it’s only fair that the other authors (those who *are* following the rules and those unable to attend) don’t get the short end of the stick. Let me set an example for you, if a book display has say two hundred authors featured, and all two hundred tried to huddle in a small booth and hand out flyers, book marks etc, how useful would that really be for any of them? Not very, not to mention most show attendees would avoid that booth like the plague. Book fairs are set up a certain way for a reason, know how to promote your book within the parameters of their rules and it will be a better time for you and everyone involved.
6. What to Do Once a Show’s Over
The promotion doesn’t end when your event is over! In fact, it’s a prime time to get even more exposure for your social media and books. Make a blog post about your experience at the show or how it went having your book displayed, share any pictures you took or were sent to you in one organized blog post, if you traveled to a different city or country post your favorite restaurants or meals. Anything to sum up your experience and give you another chance to write about your book beyond trying to sell it to people is great for you and your brand as an author.
Book promotion is something you get the hang of with practice, it’s different for every book and every author because audiences vary from title to title. Pay attention to the events you sign up for, see what other authors in your genre are doing and see if that works for you. If something doesn’t work try something else, or try and tweak it for your own title. Remember no matter, what spreading the word about your book is HARD work but it can also be a fun learning experience.
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