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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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.

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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.

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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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