7 Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Next Book Event

Have you ever seen a lonely author at a bookstore table—rearranging his book stacks, checking his signing pen, and making hopeful eye contact with the customers before they duck down the nearest aisle? I’ve been that author, and I’ve also stood for three days hawking my books at a country fair, where I ate up my meager profits in corn dogs and fried Snickers bars. But that was the old me.

When my cookbook 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON was released, I decided it was time to create an unconventional book event that my readers would actually enjoy. The launch party was featured in The Denver Post, and over a hundred people attended. I sold out of books, brought home orders for more copies, and here’s what I learned from the experience.

GIVEAWAY: Eliza is excited to give away a free copy of “101 Things To Do With Bacon” to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: JanelleFila.)

 

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Column by Eliza Cross, the author of seven books (find them all on Amazon here)
and founder of the bacon enthusiast society BENSA—which, unlike Mensa,
welcomes members of all intelligence levels. Her May 2012 release was
101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON  (Gibbs Smith). She will serve fried pickles
and pickle shots at the Oct. 24 launch event for her newest cookbook,
101 THINGS TO DO WITH A PICKLE  (Gibbs Smith), agented
by Elizabeth Kracht of Kimberley Cameron & Associates and just released.
(The book release party is at Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs, 2148 Larimer St.,
Denver, CO. from 5:30 to 7:00 PM.)
Eliza enjoys connecting with readers
and authors on Goodreads and Facebook,

and is a contributor to the multi-author blog The Prose Cons.

 

 

1. Throw a great party instead of a book signing.

Book signings are dull. Parties are fun! Think of your book event as a rockin’ good blowout, and try to incorporate as many entertaining elements as possible to appeal to the widest audience.

2. Consider a nontraditional venue.

For the launch event of 101 THINGS TO DO WITH BACON I teamed up with Tony’s Market, a Denver bistro and gourmet food shop with a huge meat counter. Could you find a setting that relates to your book for your celebration? For your romance novel, perhaps you could hold your soiree at a beautiful antique store that has old chandeliers and gilded mirrors, or in the orchid room of the botanical garden. A war memoir event could be held in an airplane hangar, or at an aviation museum.

3. Create an appealing theme and a fun invitation.

You can use a service like Punchbowl or Evite to create a free, colorful invitation including photos of you and your book cover. Invite everyone you know, and be sure to send a press release and personal invitation to the media. Post the event on Goodreads, and use social media to remind people about the upcoming celebration.

(Adapt your book into a movie script — here’s how.)

4. Choose something great to wear.

You want to feel comfortable and confident during your event, so it pays to think now about your outfit. Men, this means you, too. If you wear something related to your book, all the better. Bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert found a botanical-themed dress in shades of green to wear when she was promoting her new novel THE SIGNATURE OF ALL THINGS. I wore a red dress that fit with my book’s meaty, bacon-y theme.

5. Serve cocktails and bacon.

Hosting a bacon tasting at my cookbook’s launch event was an inspired decision. Servers brought out platter after platter of Tony’s crispy, house-made bacon, and the crowd devoured over thirty pounds. A cash bar kept costs low, and everybody had a great time. Of course, cocktails and bacon might not work for you (although it’s a tough combination to beat), but perhaps you could serve zombie cookies and punch… or champagne and swan-shaped cream puffs….or B-52 shots and C-Rations.

6. Lure book buyers in from the street.

When author Irene Rawlings held the launch for her book SISTERS ON THE FLY: CARAVANS, CAMPFIRES AND TALES FROM THE ROAD, seven of the “sisters” parked their pimped-out vintage camping trailers in front of Denver’s Tattered Cover bookstore. People lined up outside to see the trailers, which made other curious people stop, and soon Rawlings’ book signing was standing room only.

For my event, I hired two energetic high school boys to wear giant bacon strip costumes I found on eBay. They danced around the sidewalk on Broadway outside of the venue waving huge “Free Bacon Tasting” and “Bacon Cookbooks Here” signs, and we could hear brakes screeching as people stopped to join the festivities.

(Writing non-fiction? Hear submission advice from literary agents.)

7. Host a giveaway for a headline-grabbing prize.

I held a trivia contest during my launch party and asked people to guess how many times the word “bacon” appeared in my book (487 times, in case you’re wondering). The entry form captured readers’ contact information, and the lucky winner received a year’s supply of bacon—a detail that was reported by several media outlets.

How about you? Could you give away a matchmaking session from a professional dating expert? A zombie survival kit? A flight in a vintage DC-10? People love prizes, so find something memorable that will remind them of your book—and they’ll never forget you or your sizzling launch party, either.

GIVEAWAY: Eliza is excited to give away a free copy of “101 Things To Do With Bacon” to a random commenter. Comment within 2 weeks; winners must live in Canada/US to receive the book by mail. You can win a blog contest even if you’ve won before. (UPDATE: JanelleFila.)

 

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for where to start? Look no further.
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22 thoughts on “7 Ways to Add Sizzle to Your Next Book Event

  1. Maidenfine

    These are excellent ideas. I *have* seen that lonely writer sitting in the bookstore. And I bought her book just to support the bravery of sitting there being rejected by every passerby. One or two of these ideas might have turned her day around.

  2. whewlett

    My biggest problem with marketing is that I am a terrible salesperson, especially when it comes to myself or my work. I love these ideas. My first event is going to be the Inspire Toronto International Book Fair in November…go big or go home, right? I’m extremely excited. After that event, I’m sure I’ll be more confident to do book store appearances, etc.
    Thanks for the tips!

    Wendy Hewlett

    1. Eliza Cross

      Wendy, I think that’s so true for most of us – we’d rather be writing and creating than promoting our own work. Good for you, getting in front of so many people at the Inspire Toronto International Book Fair – hope it’s a very positive experience and that you sell a lot of books!

  3. Tor Loken

    I live in a remote, rural, resort community. Few people around. My first book launch brought in around 40, a big crowd. Book 2 brought half as many. I switched gears for book 3 and booked a performing arts theater, a band, two performers, and promoted it as Valentine’s Day special event. I found 7 sponsors willing to donate $100 each in trade for advertising opportunities at the event. This covered my costs incl press ads. Result? 145 people paid $15 or $10 in advance for tickets, had a great time, bought much champagne and 50+ books. I used the profits to send large print versions of my books to area nursing homes, generating more press coverage and sales. Book 4 was similar but in summer. 70 paid to attend and bought as many books. Online orders at my BadgerValley(dot)com doubled. Now I have booked the theater for Val Day 2015 and expect another blow-out. 😉 Find my trilogy at badgervalley.com

  4. Eliza Cross

    Thanks, Jan. Your son sounds like a very astute young man! 🙂 I can’t wait to read Scent of Triumph. I’d be honored to chat on your blog, and will e-mail you privately.

  5. Janet

    I held a booksigning in a pet store for two of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books I’m in, one about cats, the other about dogs. My giveaway was reducing the list price on both books and donating proceeds from one to the local animal shelter. The pet store pitched in by bringing in a crockpot of chicken noodle soup. People really liked the idea of helping the shelter.

    1. Eliza Cross

      Janet, what a wonderful idea. I love that you were able to support your local animal shelter and share your book at the same event. Chicken noodle soup – YUM! 🙂

  6. janmoran

    Excellent suggestion, Eliza! I love Bensa, too. I once named one of my fragrance-related projects for Sephora “Scentsa” for the same reason–it made people smart about perfume. There’s a lot of bacon in our house; one of our sons is a chef and a bacon fanatic!

    I have a new historical novel coming out soon, Scent of Triumph from St. Martin’s Press, so I will definitely ponder your ideas to think up something special and fun! Maybe you’d like to come talk about bacon and launches on my blog, http://www.JanMoranWrites.com? Come say hi, and wishing you the very best in Bacon-Land!

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