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Finding Author Events

How to Find Author EventsA number of authors have contacted me recently asking how I keep finding author events to attend. I’ll admit, it’s challenging and I’m by no means an expert.

Just last month I was actively planning my calendar for the next year and noticed there were four main events that were already closed and wait listed. Mind you, that was during the first week in January for events being held in October!

So, yeah. Not only can the hunt for events be time consuming, it can also be pretty frustrating. Luckily, the more you grow your network and contacts, the easier it gets. Here are a few tips and tricks that I’ve managed to accumulate over the last few months that I’d like to share with you. (Fair warning, this post got super long! Once I started writing, I realized I had a lot to say on the subject.)

    • Stalk Your Friends: No, don’t really stalk them, but DO be willing to learn from them, especially if they’re in your same genre and/ or region. I think I’ve mentioned before that I was inspired to start attending more events because I saw a fellow author friend of mine constantly posting about some new show or fair that she was attending. The only problem was, I kept hearing about these opportunities after the flyer was made and the organizers were no longer accepting authors. So, what to do? I obviously had to learn how to hear about these events AHEAD of time. If you keep seeing flyers with the same authors listed on them, go check out their events page. If they don’t have one on their website, see if they have one listed on their Facebook author page.Most authors are going to be announcing where they’ll be and what they’re attending. It’s not a secret. So, find those authors that are doing what you want to be doing. Then go look up those events individually, both by googling them and seeing if there is a corresponding Facebook event page. Check who is hosting the event. Do THEY have a page you can like or a group you can join? What other events do they have listed?
    • Stalk Your Friends – Part 2:
      If an author that you admire has been doing a number of events for awhile, go see what PAST events they’ve attended. You’ll notice that many of them are annual events. Go check the person/ group/ entity that held the event and see if there’s another one scheduled for this year. Join their group or look up their contact information and reach out to them.This is how I found out about the 3rd Annual Local Author Fair at the Ipswich Library. When I saw it listed as a past event, and that the next one was coming up, I went to the Ipswich Public Library calendar and looked up contact information. Then I sent the librarian an e-mail introducing myself and asking if there were any openings. Don’t be afraid to make contact! The worst they can say is “no,” and even then at least now you’re on their radar.
    • Love Your Libraries: Speaking of libraries…take the time to get to know and introduce yourself to your local libraries. When Secret Need released in August of 2017, I had a book release party planned for late September. One of my friends made some posters to help me get the word out. I went to all my local libraries and asked if I could post my flyer on their community board.That’s not all I did. I used that opportunity to bring a copy of my books, some bookmarks, and business cards with me and made a point to introduce myself to the librarians. A few months later in December, I got an e-mail from one of those librarians asking if I’d be interested in speaking on a Romance Authors Panel in February. Basically, never miss an opportunity to plant a seed. You never know when and how they may bear fruit.
    • Love Your Libraries – Part 2:
      Here’s another note about libraries. Most libraries are constantly looking for ways to interact and stay relevant with the community. Many of them host book clubs and other events. In fact, the very first event I was ever invited to speak at was a “Mystery and a Cup of Tea” book club hosted by a small local library. It was so much fun!Later, after I published my second book, I was invited back to give another talk to that same group – only now it was a public event which created greater outreach. Typically libraries are interested in supporting local authors (both traditionally published and self-published.) They will also usually give you an opportunity to sell your books afterwards and often won’t charge a table fee to do so.
    • Build your author community!
      Yes, this is a topic I’ve written about before. I can not stress enough how important it is to foster a healthy community of writers and readers – both online and locally. I’ve heard about, and been invited to, a number of events simply by being in a writing group and making friends. One such opportunity occurred through my WriNoShores group. I originally discovered WriNoShores when I first participated in NaNoWriMo. Since then, they’ve become some of my closest friends.Last year was my first time being the Municipal Liaison for the group. In taking that role, I met a lady who was actively trying to create a place for writers in her community to meet up, called A Room to Write. She also does interviews with the local public access television station. Meeting her led to being interviewed on WCAT in Wakefield, MA this past week! That’s an opportunity I never would have had if I wasn’t actively participating with my regional writing community. Don’t get me wrong. This is not about simply taking. If you hear about something in the future, be sure to share the wealth! Remember, this is a community and should be a mutually beneficial, supportive relationship.
    • Search for opportunities often.
      Use Google and Facebook and do regular searches for author signings and events within your region. BookSigningsEvent and Author Events Around the US are good places to start, but there are plenty of others. Many book bloggers will have posts about various events around the country, become familiar with them. Again, even if it’s an old post, a lot of those events happen annually. Once you get a name of an event or a group that hosts events, dig further. Find the ones that are actively scheduling into the future and keep track of them.*
    • Think outside the box.
      Okay, this one is going to be a little harder to give advice for because the opportunities you come up with could depend on what genre you’re writing in. Let me give you a few examples. Last October, I heard about a Halloween Craft and Vendor fair being held in a town nearby that was looking for more vendors. I thought, what the hell? I’ll give it a shot and see how it goes. There were a couple of reasons I thought it might be a good fit for me. First, I write romantic suspense. My target audience is predominantly mid- to upper middle class women aged 16 – 65. Guess who attends craft and vendor fairs? Women between 16 and 65. Not only that, but if they’re going to the event, that means they have discretionary income, are actively looking to interact and buy, and dialed into the various events within their community. I sold thirteen books in four hours!

      Another friend of mine writes middle grade fantasy. He goes to schools and talks to classes about how to write a story. Topics include world building and character development, as well as explaining various plot points. Teachers and students love it because not only is it educational, but it’s creative and gives them a chance to interact with a real published author. As you can imagine, it also generates a lot of interest in his books from the students, parents, and teachers.

      I’ve known other authors who write science fiction, paranormal, or fantasy that will attend comic cons. That’s a great venue for those types of genres! Most people who are into comics, science fiction, and fantasy also enjoy reading and tend to be passionate super-fans who aren’t afraid to recommend and talk about what they love. If you’re writing in that genre, you should absolutely be thinking of these type of events as opportunities. The point is, think about who your target audience is and try to come up with a few opportunities that not everybody else is doing. Don’t be afraid to experiment! My philosophy is throw everything at the wall and see what sticks.

Great! You’ve discovered a few events that you might be interested in. Now what?

  1. Stay Selective:
    Don’t jump on just any event. Do your homework! See what other events the organizers may have hosted. Did it look successful? Were there a lot of attendees? Was there interaction on the event page? When you inquired about attending, how long did it take for them to respond to you? How was the organization leading up to the event? Did they e-mail you with details? Did they have a map of the vendors set beforehand? Was there WiFi available and were the network and password shared? What kind of advertisement did the event have? Did the organizers set up the event page early, post often, and share across multiple platforms? Was it listed on the free local community calendars and other event pages? The more work the organizers put into hosting an event, the more likely it will be successful. There is also less chance that it’s a scam or disreputable group.
  2. *Stay Organized:
    If you aren’t able to submit to the event yet, but need to remind yourself to check back, put it in your calendar! I use my google calendar to keep track of all my author shows, writing group meetings, and potential events I’d like to attend. (It’s all color-coded, so it’s even easier to follow entries.) I even make sure to put in reminders to check back on something down the road – two, three, sometimes a year out. Make sure you keep good notes about what the reminder is for, including the website where applicable. The more information you include now, the less confused you’ll be later.
  3. Stay Responsible:
    If you are lucky enough to be accepted to an event, think about the long game. Pay in a timely manner. Make sure to share and post about the event in the days leading up to it. Take the time to personally introduce yourself to the organizers (this seems like common sense to me, but I’ve seen people go directly to their table and not say a word beforehand.) Show up ON TIME and DO NOT break down your table early, even if no one is coming in and the place is completely dead. Also, be sure to CLEAN UP your table and surrounding area at the end of the event. Don’t leave your trash and anything else lying around. It’s a sure-fire way to not be invited again.
  4. Stay positive:
    Maybe the event is slow. Maybe there aren’t a lot of attendees, or they’re just not that interested in what you have to offer. Whatever you do, DON’T COMPLAIN. Take the opportunity to talk to your fellow vendors. Get to know your neighbors. Again, you may never know what seeds you are planting. For example, that Local Author Fair at the Ipswich Public Library? I didn’t get a lot of sales that day. In fact, there was barely any traffic at all. However, I did get to meet many other local authors. One of whom reached out to me recently and asked if I’d be interested in speaking at a local library in a few months. Be cognizant of the fact that whatever impression you are making on that day, at that event, will stick with you well into the future. You don’t want to be known as the high-maintenance, complaining type who causes trouble, never shares the event, and expects to be catered to.
  5. Stay in touch:
    Say thank you! Take a moment after the event, either later that day or the next, and e-mail or message the organizers thanking them for the event. This will help ensure you are welcome the next time around. It also goes back towards building your community. Foster friendships and stay in touch with your fellow vendors, authors, organizers, and even frequent attendees. Get to know them! Be friendly and engaged. A saying I’ve always liked is, “You have to be interested to be interesting.” So, get interested in the people around you and listen to what they’re doing. You never know what you might learn and what opportunities you might find.
  6. Stay Profitable:
    It could be very easy to get caught up in these events and forget your main objective – to sell books and make a profit. If you’re just starting out and you don’t have a lot of books to sell (like me) then doing some of the large, big name author signings may not be the best use of your resources. Those types of events tend to have a higher table cost. On top of that, but you will be one of many, many authors. It will be harder for you to make a sale in that type of environment.That’s not to say you should write them off completely because there’s a lot you can learn at these types of events. But, moderate it.Until you’re an author with a larger following, think locally. Find regional events that you can participate in with little to no overhead. Like I stated before, libraries are a great, low-cost resource that could help you get your name out into your community. These smaller events are also a good way to become comfortable with selling in-person. You can practice your elevator pitch and perfect your displays.

So, how about you? Have you found success finding various events to attend as an author? Please share what you’ve learned!

Congratulations! You’ve found all these wonderful events to attend, now what? Be sure to check out my blog series, “Attending Author Events.”

Part One focuses on small, inexpensive items you may find helpful to have for your author booth and how to set up your table.

Part Two focuses on the larger, big-ticket items you may need to acquire for your author booth.

Part Three discusses the most important part of how to make any author event successful – YOU! I focus on how to break the ice, conversation topics, and why it’s essential you know what to say when someone comes up to your table and asks, “What’s your book about?”

 

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