Participating at a Book Event: What to Expect and Helpful Tips

From bookstores, libraries, trade shows, and more, author events are a great way to spread the word about your book. However, these appearances can often be overwhelming, especially your first time.

While each event requires different planning, one thing that never changes is what you want your audience to take away?

Here are a few helpful tips from my own experiences and fellow authors to help you prepare.

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE

Speak with the event organizer to better understand who the attendees will be. Then, tailor your presentation accordingly. Make sure your presentation is age-appropriate.

THE PRESENTATION

Solo Bookstore Event

Plan to speak 15 – 20 minutes, followed by a 10 – 15 minute Q & A and a book signing. Don’t assume the audience has read your book. Most events will be attended by a mix of current and potential readers. When planning your presentation, make sure you add content from or about your book that will pique the audience’s interest. You may choose to read from your book as part of the presentation. If you do, select a passage that ends on a cliffhanger or with an interesting moment that leaves your audience wanting more. Remember, the goal is to get them to buy your book.

Co-Author Event

When presenting with another author, you will each present separately, and then do a Q & A together, followed by a book signing. Make sure you share the time accordingly.

Interview-Style Event

If you are participating in an interview-style event, you should prepare a few questions for the interviewee, especially if it is another author. If you can get the questions to be asked in advance, that is helpful (see “preparing the questions” for the most common ones asked).

Panel Discussions

When participating in a panel discussion, you will want an elevator pitch. In 30 to 60 seconds, create a compelling hook and follow that up with a quick summary of your book. You should also reveal your genre and setting and close with something that shows your passion for your writing, what inspired you, or who will be drawn to your story. You want your message short, but powerful so your audience will remember you. However, keep in mind that other authors need to speak within the allotted time. It is okay to insert yourself into a conversation if you see an opportunity, but don’t interrupt or try to steal the spotlight. What helps to keep conversations more engaging and genuine is if you become familiar with other authors on the panel before you go.

PREPARING FOR QUESTIONS

Irrelevant of the type of event, you should be prepared for questions. To help you prepare, here are some of the most common questions to keep in mind.

  1. Who inspired you to become an author?

  2. What was the inspiration for your book?

  3. What kind of research did you do?

  4. Elaborate on your writing process.

  5. What is your favorite thing about writing?

  6. What do you hope readers will take away from reading your book?

  7. What’s next for you?

Once you have practiced and are prepared, mentally let it go. If you have fun, your audience will too.

Have you participated in an author event? What other tips would you share?

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