Participating in a Literary Event? Here Are a Few Things to Consider

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Sheri Hoyte Managing Editor

One of the first things many authors think of when their book is released is marketing and publicity. Participating in literary events should be a big part of that plan. For many, participating as panelists or vendors is exciting, to be sure, but can also be intimidating.  Some of the larger, well-known events, such as Comic Con and the New York Book Festival, have big crowds and a good number of author booths competing for attention. These big events are definitely a different league from signing books in a bookstore or any other small venue, and thus the preparation checklist is larger. However, it shouldn’t be overwhelming. Here are some things to consider when planning any literary event:

·         When choosing which events to participate in, the first thing to do is establish goals. Many of these events are targeted to specific crowds, so before creating a list of events for the year the author should think through what they wish to accomplish. If it is sales, then a comic con is not the right place for a Self Help book. But if it is promotion, why not? Even Comic fans need some self-help sometimes, or have friends who enjoy self-help books, so giving away T-Shirts, postcards, etc., could pay off as word of mouth could generate sales later on.

·         Once a list of possible events is in place, there are few questions to answer before signing up to any of them. Many times there are dues and efforts needed that are not stated on the event’s website. For example, do you need a sales tax number? Do you need to apply for a license to be able to sell? Does the signup fee cover the table, electricity, etc? Asking questions ahead of time will give an insight on the event that can’t be acquired by the general information on the website. Knowing more will help the author determine the exact costs of participation.

·         Make a list of things that you need for the event like banners, marketing handouts, raffle giveaways, etc. Get quotes on production costs – and when designing them, ensure you will be able to re-produce them for other events. This will make the investment worthwhile.

·         Design ways to get people to visit your booth.  Giving away T-Shirts and other items are great, but making the booth interactive can go a long way. A laptop playing the book’s video commercial, the author dressing as a fictional character in the story, having original historical items referenced within the story on display as a way to start a conversation – all of these things are great ways to hold people’s attention and turn those browsers into customers!  Be creative, unique and genuine.

Finally, have fun! In the end authors need to relax, talk to people, and enjoy the time spent with at the event. Writing is an isolating activity, so getting out of that shell is not only necessary to connect with people, it is also imperative to help the audience relate to the author. Many times, book sales will not happen during the event but after the event by people who related to the author. For more information on how Reader Views can help authors, visit

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