The Power of the Live Author

By Ian Girdley | Photo by Jeremy Gotwals | Saviors, a Novel by Matt Seidel, Launch party

By Ian Girdley | Photo by Jeremy Gotwals | Saviors, a Novel by Matt Seidel, Launch party

There are many facets to marketing a book and building your platform as an author (i.e. gaining an audience over a variety of media).  There are also a lot of articles, blogs, and experts telling you how to market correctly and which facets to put your energy into.  It seems that one of the most overlooked (or abandoned) practices for authors are live events.  That is, an author engaging an audience through a reading, signing, and/or speaking engagement.  A launch party is a great way to kick things off but continuing to hold live reading and signing events will perpetuate the following positive results for new and veteran authors alike.

Add Value to Your Book

Just as an album signed by its band becomes more valuable, so does a book signed by its author.  Readers that receive a signed copy of a book are more likely to recommend books throughout their sphere of influence, leave an online review for the book, or post the book to social media sites.  There are even ways to encourage your readers to do this when meeting them face to face.  Too many authors tell me that they don’t want to schlep their book, as if it is somehow beneath them.  It was not beneath successful authors like John Grisham and Louise Hay, among others, who both started out this way.  Remember that selling is marketing.  Every signed copy that lands into someone’s hand is another person that can tell others about your book. 

Engage and Energize Your Audience Directly

Center, Author Matt Seidel. Group holding the new release of his thriller novel, Saviors. Holon Publishing "Wine & Sign" event from early 2014. 

Center, Author Matt Seidel. Group holding the new release of his thriller novel, Saviors. Holon Publishing "Wine & Sign" event from early 2014. 

Beyond getting a signed copy in their hands, performing live and being able to speak with and shake hands with your audience makes them more engaged in your book and in you as an author.  This is the reason why politicians travel on a campaign to give stump speeches instead of simply airing commercials, doing interviews, and reaching out on social media.  It lets you get to know your audience and them to get to know you, to make a personal connection.  People buy products from people they like and they suggests books by authors they like.  Not only will you have made a personal connection, but you have a chance to ask your audience face to face to leave a review on Amazon, follow your blog and social media sites, or post your book on their Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or other social media site.  Even a small reading or book club can turn out to be a very intimate event and lead to some of your most ardent reader-promoters. 

Rise Above the Internet Noise

The bad news is that there are more authors than ever trying to promote their books.  The good news is that a vast majority of these authors are trying to promote solely by means of the internet.  This kind of competition makes it even more difficult to get noticed online, but holding live events puts you into a unique class of author.  Not only are live events a great way to seed your social media following by reaching fans through a noiseless medium, but it can add content about you are your book to the online world.  Live events give not only you, as the author, but your audience something to post about online beyond a review of the book, excerpt from the book, or summary of the book.  It is refreshing to read about an author having a great time with fans instead of another thinly guised plea for you to buy and promote their book.  It is a great way to supplement your online efforts with additional advocates and unique news content.

Give the Media Something to Report About

Your book is out, you’ve sent out a press release about its availability to every newspaper and online news source in the world, but months later there is nothing new to excite the media masses.  What to do?  Though a book signing or author reading won’t make the front page of the New York Times, or much of a splash in any large city, it can garner attention in smaller communities with smaller newspapers.  Not only can you get exposure in these smaller towns and cities, with a crowd that can become even more excited about this event that is more rare, more special to them, but most publications (even small town newspapers) post online now.  This will help your online clout and give your book additional Google listings when it is searched.

Make More Money

While bookstores are the go-to place authors think of when they want to launch their book or have a signing, it isn’t necessarily the most effective and certainly isn’t the most profitable.  We will cover this more in an upcoming article, “The Best Place to Hold a Book Signing”.  One of the greatest benefits to having live signing events (outside of bookstores) is that it gives you the chance to become your own bookseller.  This means that you make the lion’s share of the profit of the book because you don’t have a distributor or bookseller taking a huge discount—this portion goes back into your pocket.  This is especially great for self-published authors who are trying to not only gain an audience but recoup the costs of publishing their book.  If you do not want to appear like you are schlepping your book or seem like a salesman more than an author, have a friend or family member sell copies of your book at one table while you greet readers and sign books at a second table.