While special events are a great way to promote your books, they can also be a drain on finances, time, and energy. Therefore, you need to prioritize which events will be best for you and stick to your budget and schedule when unexpected opportunities arise.
Each event is different with varying purposes. You may attend some events for the following reasons: 1) sell books, 2) raise awareness about you and your book, 3) to give back to the community 4) as a means to provide a ministry
Here are some recommended tips:
1) Before your book launch, plan your promotional budget for events and determine your top goals.
2) Keep in mind that events where books are not sold will require you to bring your own books and you may be required to rent space, table and chairs. You may have to buy meals if it is an all day event. Also, if it is out of town, there will be travel and lodging costs.
3) Browse local community calendars at the libraries, bookstores, chamber of commerce, church listings, festivals, etc for events that may have a tie-in to any kind of topic in your novel. If you have a nascar book, consider a nascar event. I write historical novels in Scotland, so the highland games are always great selling avenues for me. What topic or themes in your novels can you capitalize on?
4) Google writing conferences and workshops and send an email with your credentials, bio and links to offer your services as a speaker. Often, they will cover the cost of your travel, lodging, and pay you an honorarium, as well as allow you to bring and sell your books.
5) Some book signings are still worth it even if you only sell one or two novels. It you have a local book signing, you don't have to bring your own books, you don't have the cost of travel and rental space, and all it takes is one reader who may spread the word to 4-5 more people and help you pick up more readers. Even if people don't buy your books, they may go home and Google your name, so make sure you have a large sign or banner on or by your table. This is where passing out bookmarks, postcards, magnets and business cards are key.
6) Hold online events. You can host contests, giveaways, workshops, video Q&A, video interviews, podcasts, and digital book signings. New technology is allowing people to be very creative, accessible, and economical. Take advantage of these opportunities.
Any other ideas? Please share!