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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Tips for Authors

Using Tech for Book Marketing

Kate Gingold from Sprocket WebsitesKate has been building websites with her husband Don since 1996 for all sorts of clients, including authors.

Kate regularly writes about online marketing for Sprocket Websites and provides tips and techniques for entrepreneurs and small-business owners. Since being an author today is not really different from being an entrepreneur with a small business, most of those tips are just as useful to authors.

Kate is an author herself. She writes books on local history, including the award-winning "Ruth by Lake and Prairie," a fictionalized account of the true story of Great Lake pioneering to the shores of Chicago and beyond to found Naperville, Illinois. 

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Ruth By Lake and Prairie

Author Tips and Tales

Going to a Book Fair? Here Are Tips for Readers, Authors and the Event Hosts.
Kate Gingold Host
/ Categories: Author Tips

Going to a Book Fair? Here Are Tips for Readers, Authors and the Event Hosts.

Everyone’s heart is in the right place, but an Emily Post-type should dictate some etiquette for book and author fairs so that they run better. My opinions are below, but I’d love to hear your take on this as well!

Tips for Event Hosts:

  • First of all, thank you so much for doing this! Authors really, really appreciate the opportunity to show off their work. They want you to have a successful event so you’ll host it again and they’ll do all they can to help, but everything begins with you. 
  • Please, (and this is important!) please post the fair on your website, giving the event its own page with a graphic image. This legitimizes your ownership of the event and provides the official go-to spot for information. I’ve seen fairs listed in online calendars, in rotating banners, and in pdfs of the monthly newsletter – all of which are nice, but they don’t provide a proper URL that can be used for marketing purposes. 
  • A Facebook event specific to your fair is one way to provide a link, but not everyone uses Facebook. It’s best to originate the information on your own organization’s website. Please also (correctly) add a graphic to the page. You or your guest authors will want to share that web link on Facebook, LinkedIn, or other platforms and posts are more eye-catching if they have an image. Sometimes images don’t resolve correctly, so test it out or get your IT person to help. 
  • Publishing a list of all the authors participating in your fair provides continuity when those authors share the link. Naturally, you’ll want to include the date and time of the event, a schedule if there are readings, and all pertinent location information. 

Tips for Author Attendees:

  • Talk about the fair on your own website and on all of your social media platforms as early as possible and in multiple posts. Share the link to the official information page provided by your hosting organization. If they don’t have an official link, maybe gently share the “Tips for Event Hosts” from above. 
  • Don’t rely on your host to do all the marketing. Write up a news release about your participation in this fair. Give all the details and talk a little about your own work. Send it to local news outlets, book clubs, neighborhood Facebook groups, and anyone else who is interested in books. Just imagine the reach you and twenty other authors could have when you combine forces!
  • Arrive early to set up your book table so you are ready to greet readers right on time. Introduce yourself to the other authors and show interest in their work. Smile at and chat with readers who walk by, but don’t act pushy or needy. You will find that a very large percentage of the readers who attend are also writers. They will ask about your publishing journey and want to talk about their own work and that’s okay. You’re also a writer who reads other writers. 
  • And please, stay until the end of the event – no packing up early! It’s just rude to bug out because you’re bored or not making sales. Your host promised readers there would be authors with their books. A bunch of empty tables makes for a very unsatisfying book fair. 

Tips for Reader Attendees:

  • Don’t be afraid to talk to the authors – they’re not going to force you to buy books! You can ask them questions about subject matter, cover design, or publishing choices and still not wish to own that particular book. (Or maybe you will after learning a little more!)
  • If you do choose to buy a book, ask to have it signed by the author. It gives us such a thrill! And if you want a dedication, it’s really kind to write it out on a scrap of paper so the author has a better chance of spelling the name correctly. 
  • Yes, you can take a book mark and a piece of candy from the table. But don’t just walk down the rows, scooping up all the tchotchkes. Those things have costs and most authors at book fairs are writing for love, not money.
  • Maybe there are some books you’d like to read but can’t afford to buy them all? Take those bookmarks and use the info to make a request at your local library. There’s no guarantee the library will buy it, but it surely couldn’t hurt to ask!

I love author fairs! I attend them sometimes as a reader and sometimes as an author, which is why I feel strongly about the need for some etiquette rules. Am I missing anything? Let me know your observations or concerns. Maybe we could start a movement to make book fairs better for everyone!

Photo by Ivan Samkov

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Marketing Author Interview

Following a presentation for In Print Professional Writers Group, Kate's husband (and publisher!) Don was interviewed by author Louise Brass for WBOM Radio. During the conversation, Don shared many of the marketing tips from his presentation. You can listen to it online here.

The Sprocket Report

The Sprocket Report is published every other week with Internet marketing tips, tools and techniques. The archive features articles from 2011 up to the present. You are welcome to read how business owners are using technology to market themselves and apply those tips to your author business.


 

 

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