Events have always been a favorite book marketing strategy of mine. While most events have moved and remained online, many have embraced a hybrid format for conferences, speaking events, and more. There are certainly some drawbacks to online and hybrid events, mostly around monetization, however, the benefits of this strategy should make the time and effort worthwhile.
Understanding Hybrid Author Events
A hybrid event is one that combines both in-person and hybrid elements. Here, you would have both an in-person and a virtual audience. And those watching remotely might be able to watch synchronously or asynchronously. This can feel a bit tricky the first time you do it — but, after one of these sessions, you’ll quickly get the hang of this way of presenting. In reality, it’s not that much different from speaking to an all in-house audience, only now, you can reach even more readers, or potential readers.
Author Event Types Come in All Forms
Over the 21 years I’ve been in business, I’ve personally done many different types of events, and also booked many for the authors we work with. Book signings are just one of many types of events that an author can do. If you opt to do a book signing, make sure you’re doing a book talk as well because, let’s face it, sitting at a table all afternoon isn’t a great use of your time. A book talk and signing combined is much more interesting both for your readers and for you.
Eventually, and hopefully, you may be called to speak at a conference or teach a workshop at a bookstore. Speaking can be a great opportunity to present your book to an audience that may not have heard of you otherwise. Even if they attended the event to see another author or speaker, now they know your name, your face, and maybe even your book.
Ideas for Promoting a Book: Securing Your Author Event
The first step in securing an event is really deciding the type of event you want. If you’re primarily looking for signings and talks, then you’ll need to visit your local bookstores. Be sure to get to know their events manager and keep in touch.
If you’re looking for something that’s more next level for author events, you’ll want to consider conferences related to your topic, or even trade shows with speaking opportunities. Here, you’ll be fully immersed in an audience interested in your niche. If you want to get really creative, you might even want to do in-store events. I’ve done events in Hallmark, at a big electronics store, and even (and now I’m really going to date myself) at Blockbuster video.
If you go for something like a Hallmark, or another specialty store, you’re probably looking at just doing a signing, which is fine for those venues. Anything outside of a specialty store, you absolutely want to push for an author-talk.
A Few Tips for Hybrid Author Events
Before you dive head-first into the idea of doing events, there are a few things to keep in mind.
First, make sure you have a good tech support person either from the venue or one you know personally. You’ll need to continuously check if those viewing online can see and hear you clearly. This person can make sure you’re in view of the camera at all times or could even supply a camera for you if you don’t have one.
Most venues who are migrating into hybrid events will have a camera set up that is connected to the Zoom room. Your laptop camera often isn’t sufficient in capturing all of the elements of your talk, especially if you’re moving around and not standing directly in front of your computer.
Second, dive into this event focusing on the digital experience first. You’ll need to create something highly visual so the online group doesn’t feel left out. And you or an assistant will want to closely monitor the chat for any questions or topics you should address. Some venues may do this for you but some won’t be able to spare the extra staff, so make sure that you’re really comfortable on Zoom.
One thing I did for a recent event to help bridge the gap between the online and in-person experience was offer to mail swag to those attending online. The conference loved this and even paid for the postage to do so. If you have swag, don’t leave the online folks out in the cold. And keep in mind that, if you’re eager to monetize the event (and aren’t we all!), swag can be another great way to do that.
Monetizing Author Events
This is where things really start to get interesting. A lot of authors who do virtual-only events show up, give their workshop or talk, and walk away. And often, they’re pretty disappointed. Did they sell a book? Possibly but, frankly, it was hard to tell.
After doing a bunch of online events, here is what I learned: You need a special offer. This is some way to get folks to sign up for your mailing list so you can market to them again. At its most basic, I offer to send a copy of my slides to all attendees, even the folks who attend online. For this, all I did was create a simple Google form to capture email addresses, and now I have a wonderful mailing list to work from.
For a recent hybrid event I did, I created a special book deal and I was amazed by how many books I sold because of it. I offered two books for $15, and for the online folks I added $5 for shipping. Don’t be afraid of discounts and deals, even if it means mailing copies of your books.
If you only feel like you can offer swag, then do that. At the very least, just offer your slide deck as I did. Whatever it is, don’t leave a single event without collecting email addresses. This way, you can thank the attendees for their time spent listening to you at the event, introduce yourself more personally, and even inform them of your book. You’ll be surprised at how much this can help to drive sales.
If your talk is part of a conference, an offer can make you stand out amongst the rest as attendees bounce endlessly from speaker to speaker. At the end of the event, you’ll want to make sure they remember you.
Hybrid author events aren’t something to shy away from. Coupling these events with your existing book marketing strategy is a fantastic, and possibly even fun, way to expand your reach and target your ideal audience.
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon visibility campaigns as well offering national media pitching, online book marketing, author events, and other strategies designed to build the author/book visibility.
She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing for Authors, and From Book to Bestseller. She also hosts the top ranking podcast Book Marketing Tips and Author Success.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.
To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.