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Events

How to promote an event on social media [Book Events Series]

Social media is a wonderful tool, and in my experience it’s more about the build-up to an event / product launch than the actual day itself.Β I’ve found that about a month is a good time to start advertising, with more frequent posts in the week leading up to the big day. Below are some things that you can share on social media leading up to an event (warning: link-heavy).

Progress Updates

If I’m working on an illustrated book, I post daily updates on Instagram, Facebook (and sometimes Twitter) with photos of my drawings as I progress. This helped me with both What Stars Are Made Of and The Caretaker’s Colouring Book to build interest and to get pre-orders. For text-only books, Facebook and Twitter are the best social platforms for updating word counts and editing progress.

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An Instagram update.

Promote Others

Are there other people who you can promote alongside you? For the book festival, I’m posting an author a day over on my Facebook page. For the book launch of Lucy’s Story, I also shared Jennie Cruse and James Stonley, who participated in my launch party, and my illustrator, Jane Thorne. Social karma works!

Countdown

A weekly countdown to an event is a fun reminder for people that your event is coming up. A weekly basis is not too obtrusive (I think – let me know if you disagree). I make little graphics using PicMonkey (free, web-based software). They are easily sharable, and if it’s an event that there are lots of other people at, it’s something they can use as well.

Week four countdown to the NZ Independent Book Festival, 2015. See more on my Facebook Page.
Week four countdown to the NZ Independent Book Festival, 2015. See more on my Facebook Page.

Preparation

Festivals and events need display stuff, merchandise & giveaways, and lots of other preparation. You can share your shopping, your display items, merchandise that you’ll take with you and even just text-only updates about what you’re doing to prepare for your event.

Questions

You can also ask for advice prior to the event – do people prefer Display A or Display B? Yellow or blue? Recently I asked about whether people would be put off purchasing if I didn’t have EFTPOS available, which led me to research more heavily into my mobile EFTPOS options.

This article is part of my Book Events Series, leading up to the NZ Independent Book Festival.

News

Learning to run a business / price changes for The Caretaker’s Colouring Book

Becoming an independently published author means learning how to write, how to publish – and how to run a business. I think I’m okay on the first two, but the ‘running a business’ part has been the biggest learning curve of all.

Prior to becoming an indie author, I have had NO experience in running a business. I did fifth-form accounting, but have since forgotten everything I learned. I didn’t do business studies, or economics, and everything I’ve learned so far has been on-the-job learning. At tertiary level, I did a short stint in Visual Arts, and continued on to a degree in Education.

Unfortunately, on-the-job learning tends to go hand in hand with making-lots-of-mistakes learning.

You see, on the one hand, I want to make my work as affordable as I possibly can. I appreciate every single purchase; every borrow from the library; every read. The thing is, if I want to make a living as an author (and I really, really do!) then I need to make sure that my prices can cover my (growing) expenses, so I can run a sustainable business in the long term.

All my books are now printed in New Zealand. When possible, my printer (Chris @ bookprinting.co.nz) prints on recycled paper, and I am proud of the beautiful books he produces for me. As I’m sure you understand, I do pay more for his high quality work and personal service rather than getting my books mass printed overseas, or using print on demand options.

I’ve learnt that a NZ$10 price point for my adult colouring books is really not sustainable in the long term, soΒ The Caretaker’s Colouring Book will be raised to NZ$15 from the 1st of October.Β 

As some form of compensation, I will be offering bundle deals when the new price comes into effect.Β I’m also working on some freebie colouring pages that will be available for download as a printable PDF from my website – so watch this space!

And finally – thank you forΒ your understanding as I learn and grow in this indie writing business πŸ™‚

News

Display Advice [Book Events Series]

There are a million and one ideas for how to set up a display space, how to showcase your books – and how much to spend.

My first event was a book launch, and the lovely ladies at the Pt Chev Bookshop took care of the display for me. Next was a school visit, at which a display wasn’t relevant. After that, however, were the markets.

Stick to a theme

My very first stall had a jumble of things – my books, some of my mum’s crafts, postcards, and some bags made by a friend of mine. I sold very little that day and looking around at other stalls I soon realised that my products needed some cohesion.

Since then, I’ve pared down what I put on the table, and I leave some space for the products to be seen clearly. The products that get the most visual attention are the ones I make most prominent, so I use my hardbacks as display pieces, and have my paperbacks laying flat. Now that I’ve got a colouring book as well, I use a small easel to display that.

Blockhouse Bay - Aug 2015
Blockhouse Bay – Aug 2015

Tell people who you are

Another lesson I learned pretty early on was that people didn’t know I was the author of the books I had. I remedied this with a table-front banner that has ‘meet the author’ across the top to tell people who I am. Sometimes I take a blackboard a long that summarises the answers to my frequently asked questions.

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At a book festival, it’s a bit different. People are expecting to see the authors with their books, so at the NZ Book Festival my focus is on letting people know I’m a children’s author, generally in the fantasy genre.

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Be practical

Of utmost importance for me was the ability to carry everything myself. Sometimes my partner helps me with set-up and pack-up, but often I’m on my own. I invested in a table that folds and has a carry-handle (from Bunnings), a comfy folding chair (from the Warehouse) and a trolley suitcase so I could wheel it to and from the car. I still have to do two trips sometimes, but it’s manageable overall.

Stay on budget

Like most of authors, I’m on a fairly tight budget. I bought a table, chair and banner, as well as fabric to make a fitting tablecloth – these I consider essentials. I also bought little chalkboards to write prices on, which have actually managed to get almost as much attention as the books!

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All up, it was well under NZ $150, which I consider an investment as I’ll be re-using these items (you can see on my events page that they have been use a LOT).Β Other than that, I use an easel that I already owned, and have utilised one of my ukulele stands as a book display stand. It also means that for large events, I don’t have to invest a huge amount, because I already have some display materials.

Having said that, if you are only doing occasional events, there is usually an opportunity to hire from the venue.

Do a mock set-up

Easily the most valuable thing I did was to set up a mock stall at home. This gave me a realistic idea of the space I had to work with, what could stand on its own (hardbacks) and what needed help (paperbacks), and how long it would take me to set up.

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This is the second installment in my Book Events Series. The first post was on merchandising ideas, and the next will be on how to promote a book event on social media.