A lot of the authors I talk to think touring is obsolete. People aren’t showing up for bookstore events, there’s never an immediate return on investment, and overall, it’s a grind. Though straight forward bookstore events may draw the crowds they used to, that doesn’t mean there aren’t events worth traveling for.
One great example was Lou Berney’s event last night. He traveled out to a suburb of Chicago, where he spoke to a book group at a local wine shop. When I say “book group” you may think of 12-15 older women sitting in a circle, but this book group has 65 members and attracts readers of all ages. Well, all readers over 21.
There are many reasons this book group does so well. First off, it’s in a suburb rather than the city. There’s less competition for events. Second, it’s located right off the train so people can come in straight from work. Lastly, there’s food and booze. People have no reason to miss it.
Other events I think are worthwhile are book festivals. There are the big ones – LA Times Festival of Books, Printers Row – but there are plenty of smaller ones that can sometimes be even more effective. Because book festivals are a big events, often taking place in smaller towns, they attract a larger crowd because, again, they’re not competing with other events. Festivals also do publicity outreach on your behalf. So instead of having a publicist (or you) reaching out to local media outlets, the media often comes to you. Lastly, these festivals often have a budget to cover travel expenses, which frees up some funds for other promotion efforts.
Other events worth booking:
- Friends of the Library luncheons – these usually attract a large group of readers and raise your profile with the library system
- Country Club events – these usually attract a large group of book buyers
- Reading series – these usually have a built in audience but book sales will depend on who that audience is
Have you done an outside-the-bookstore event that was a great success? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.