If you want people to attend an event, you need to let them know about it! In a time of virtual author events, promotion is one of the best tools you have at your disposal to attract audiences. Read on for tips on how authors can encourage audiences to attend their virtual events.
Some details may not be in your control, especially if your publishing team is setting up the event or you are joining a fellow author’s event as a panelist or interviewee. However, we hope that by learning the many ways you can be your own promoter, you will have a better chance to get the right audiences in the digital room and have a successful online event!
Consider Your Programming
Your programming is going to dictate the primary hook for your audience: Why should they attend? Will the discussion be unique? Is there a type of special activity that they will only be able to find at this event? Why should they spend their precious time with you?
Here are a few things to consider to enhance your programming:
- Partner with other authors or industry colleagues: When putting together your own event, say on Instagram or Facebook Live, consider bringing in other speakers whose audiences overlap with yours. You might consider doing a conversation with an author who writes in the same genre, or reaching out to a colleague in the industry who knows your genre and writing well.
- Include a unique activity: A reveal, trivia contest, or game to play with your fellow panelists could be especially enticing. If you are interested in hosting any kind of giveaway, reach out to your publishing team for more information.
- Get creative! Consider how you might be able to use the virtual-event environment to do things you never could have dreamed of doing at an in-person event. All of your participants will have a camera and anything around them at their disposal. Encourage audiences to post fun Zoom backgrounds, have them participate in a poll, etc.
Fire on All Cylinders
When most people are stuck at home, having all of your promotional ducks in a row is going to contribute mightily to those people registering and attending, and ultimately to the success of your event. Here is a list of elements to consider as you are starting to promote your event:
- Focus: Drive audience to a singular location: if your event has an Eventbrite page (or a sign-up page on a similar platform), we recommend driving all promotional traffic there.
- Social: Post about the event on all your social platforms, and make sure you link to the event page. If you don’t have a page set up, you might consider creating a simple graphic that lists all the important information about your event, including Who, What, When, and Where. Canva is one of many free and easy-to-use online graphic design tools.
- Email: If you have an email list, let your subscribers know about the event. Again, include all information, links, and images to drive traffic to the event.
- Partners and participants: If you have other authors, industry colleagues, or anyone else joining the event, make sure they help promote through any means they have available (social, email, website, etc.).
Other Things to Keep in Mind
- If you have a personal website, consider creating an Events page so you have a linkable destination that lists all of your upcoming events.
- Plan for a big event…but also for a small event. Prepare a presentation for a virtual talk full of readers, but also think about what you would do with a small crowd. Would you adjust what you’re planning to say? Would you engage directly with the attendees to make the event a bit more intimate and informal? Small events still give you a great opportunity to connect with devoted readers, so prepare for the experience.
- If you are participating in other events before your own, mention your event in the introductory and wrap up scripts.
- Similarly, link to your upcoming event in the chat during other virtual events in which you participate.
There are a lot of online events competing for our attention at the moment, and this format may not be comfortable or appropriate for every author, but if you are interested in joining the virtual book community, seize the opportunity! Talk to your publishing team about how they might offer support and help you ace your virtual book event.
Check out some past posts for further guidance on any upcoming virtual events:
- What to Expect at an Author Event
- Best Practices for Participating in Author Panels
- The Author’s Experience: How to Visit with Book Clubs
Neda Dallal is Senior Associate, Publishing Development and Author Platforms at Penguin Random House.