Today when most people think of book marketing the first thing that comes to mind is social media — building a mailing list and getting likes on Facebook and tweets on Twitter. But surprisingly, the old fashioned methods of connecting face to face with live book events are as important as ever.
In fact, the connections made in person are stronger in many cases and can make a deeper, lasting impression. Shaking hands with a person, making eye contact and sharing a few minutes of conversation will create a more memorable bond than online connecting.
Definitely, it takes a bit more effort, and for the introverts among us, it may seem like a stretch out of the comfort zone. However, in many ways, meeting people in person can be a lot of fun and provide valuable feedback and encouragement that is limited when sharing 140 characters on Twitter or a three sentence photo comment on Facebook.
While it can take up to six months to build significant online connections, you can give a presentation to a small group for one hour and create relationships that will be remembered for years. There is a reason that politicians running for office spend long hours shaking hands with as many people as possible. One handshake is probably worth a hundred dollars in advertising spent online!
Most of us can recall connecting with someone in a one-time only, face to face encounter that may have lasted less than a minute, but we can recall every second of that minute years later.
Even casual personal meetings are more likely to be shared with friends both online and offline. Think about it. Many of us would naturally share at the dinner table about talking with a stranger in line at the airline counter but not even think about relating a Twitter connection or Facebook conversation.
Book events such as a simple reading do not have to be complicated, take a lot of preparation time or follow-up. And here is an important factor to consider; even if your book reading is not well attended the advertising of the event can be invaluable. For instance, if you offer to do a book reading at your local coffee shop at 3:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, you might have only half a dozen people stay around to listen. But most likely the coffee shop will advertise your event on their calendar, write it up on their chalk board and even allow you to leave flyers about the reading at the checkout.
If you arrange to do a reading at a hospital, school or public library you may get free radio advertising for the event simply by sending a public announcement news release to local radio stations. Offering to give a book reading at a local church will probably mean you get exposure in their church bulletin and perhaps even an announcement during the service.
Plus, every book event you create makes an instant newsworthy bit to share online. Get a friend to take a picture of you while you are doing the reading and share that on your blog, Facebook and Google Plus.
To give you a few ideas to get started, here are five great places to give a book reading. Not every book will lend itself to every venue but you should be able to find at least a few to get you started. Once you cover the places in your immediate neighborhood, you can venture further afield. Use the exposure of one event to encourage other places to allow you to give a book reading. Create a scrapbook of places you have given a reading and share that with those in charge of event planning.
1. Local Churches. While you can certainly target the whole congregation, you might want to narrow it to a specific group such as women’s club, men’s club or youth group. Many church groups are always on the lookout for something new to spice up an ordinary meeting.
2. Retirement Communities. Great place to find an audience for 15 to 30 minutes. Simply call the residence and ask to speak with the activity director. Most of them have a monthly Calendar of Events and are always scrambling to find a new twist to the regular monthly activities.
3. Schools. When starting out you may not be able to present to the whole school but even presenting to a single class creates a fun event. If your book has a historical background, you may tie it into a history class as well as a creative writing class. Business books will connect with classes in marketing, advertising and networking. From grade school to college, there should be places for you to make a relevant tie-in.
4. Bookstores. While it is getting harder and harder to find a mortar and brick bookstore, they are still out there and one of the things that makes customers shop at them instead of online is just such events as book readings!
5. Local fairs and community events. Drop in at your local Visitors Center and check out what is going on. While you may not want to pay for your own booth at an event, perhaps you can find someone who would love the extra exposure of having an author present a reading during the day.