The purpose of creating your author presentation is to get in front of folks who are interested in what you’re talking about, but didn’t even know they wanted your book until they heard you speak. It’s a different audience than folks who are already looking for books and therefore it’s a different marketing campaign.
Like all marketing campaigns, you need to think through the basics:
Who is your target audience?
Make a list. Plenty of groups are looking for something new to offer to their members. Consider libraries, schools, book clubs, philanthropic clubs, senior centers, after school programs, adult enrichment classes, groups on Meetup, home and school associations, social clubs, chambers of commerce and so on.
What are your marketing goals?
You will probably have primary and secondary goals. A top goal may be to get a paid gig plus book sales, but maybe you’re willing to settle for gas money and book sales. At the very minimum, you must insist on being able to sell your book. Otherwise, what’s the point?
If you’re the speaker at a breakfast or luncheon meeting, they’ll at least feed you, but that can be a double-edged sword. If the meal is before your presentation, tummy butterflies may keep you from enjoying it much!
How can you reach your target audience?
Email is free, but people are getting very careful about where they post that information. Schools in particular make it near impossible to reach teachers or librarians with whom you don’t already have a relationship.
Face-to-face networking can make a huge difference here. Collect contact info at author fairs and organizations to which you already belong. Ask your own friends and relations for introductions. Pick up the phone and call to find out who you should contact. Many, many times, websites are woefully out of date about who is in charge, so even if there is a name and contact info, your email or voicemail may be going to a past chairperson’s black hole.
Once you get the gig, you’ll want to market that as well. On your author website, Facebook page, blog and other social media, announce how excited you are to be going – even if it’s quite a long time until you go. The event makes for great conversation with your readers. You can talk about your preparation, ask for advice on which outfit to wear, share photos of the stack of books you’re taking along and more.
Later, you can share photos and stories from the event itself and express your gratitude for the opportunity. All these little updates provide context and verification for the NEXT group who is thinking of asking you to speak so they know what to expect. Also, of course, it’s awesome content for your online marketing.
If this is a private meeting, that may be all the marketing you can do, but if it’s an event that is open to the public, you’ll want to do much more. You’d think that the group itself would handle getting the word out, but astonishingly, most often they don’t get around to it. You’ll need to pick up the slack.
Check to see what your hosts have already done. Particularly, you want to see your event on their own website as an article or calendar entry because that should be the authoritative news source. If they haven’t posted it, try reminding them.
Write up several news releases with different points of view. You can send one to the event’s hometown newspaper inviting people to come and one to your hometown newspaper saying you’ve been invited to speak. You could also send news releases to groups who might be interested in your presentation. For even more ideas, check out this earlier post.
It seems counterintuitive, but yes, you do have to market the presentation you created in order to use it to market the book you created. People buy from people and for many, the personal touch is what’s needed to boost book sales.