Marketing Monday – The Benefits of Book Chats

Welcome to Marketing Monday. Today’s topic – book chats, author chats, or other ways to get yourself in front of your target audience.

As all of us know by now, being successful as an author involves more than writing a fabulous book and getting it published. You need to position it in front of an audience too. That is where author visits or book chats come in.

Author visits – whether it be at a school or with parents or as part of a book signing – are a highly effective way of getting your book directly in front of your target audience AND bringing a face to your name as an author.

Most of us do a lot of social networking. And while that is a good thing, let’s be honest – social networking does not always get you directly in front of your audience. If you are a YA author, social networking doesn’t always get you in front of teen readers.

Author visits, whether they be in person (as I prefer) or through mediums like Skype, are a way to personalize you, your message and your books.

But how do you set these up and what should you do during them?

Setting up a book chat depends completely on who your audience is. Let’s take my niche nonfiction books, Emotional Intensity in Gifted Students and my upcoming 101 Success Secrets for Gifted Kids. My audience for the first book are parents and teachers of gifted children. To set up book talks, I approached the school districts in the areas closest to me, and offered to speak to groups of parents. Now, since I have not built up my name yet, I do not charge for my visits. In fact, my “gift” to my own school district was a book chat at each and every school this year at no charge. That may seem like a lot, but the exposure never fails to result in sales and future readers for my books. I figure at this stage of the game (the early stage) it is all about building readership and my name (brand).

My plan for 101 Success Secrets is a bit different. The audience for that book is kids from 8 – 12. So, to celebrate its release, I have begun setting up parent-child nights focused on the book. I went back to every school I have already presented too, as well as to each school in which I conducted a focus group, and offered to come back for a second visit. So far I have multiple events booked.

Which brings me to the next question – content. What should you talk about on these chats?

For me, I talk about the book itself, often reading a selection. I also answer questions and give a preview of something new. This seems to work for the audiences I speak to and never fails to be successful.

For 101 Success Secrets, I will be doing a specific activity from the book with the audience (parents and kids). This brings in the kids and creates value for all in attendance.

In addition to the primary audience of the books, you can also reach out to secondary audiences. For many of us, this means writers – both kids and adults. Conducting a school visit that focuses on writing is a great asset to teachers and one that I have found pretty easy to book.

The bottom line, book chats are a great way to position yourself in front of your readers and build your career – especially when you write for a specific niche.

Here’s  quick recap of the basics:

  • Determine the primary and secondary targets for your book.
  • Find places where you can get access to that audience and offer to speak to a group. Be willing to do this free of charge initially.
  • Develop meaningful content that is directly related to your book.
  • Preview new material.
  • Try to have your book available for the event. At the very least, make sure the audience knows how to get your book and where it is available in their area.
  • Maintain an email or snail mail address list from the event so you can notify new readers of upcoming events.
  • HAVE FUN!!!

Let me know if you have had experience with author visits. Have they been helpful to you??? If you’ve never done one, what do you think? Will you include these as part of your marketing efforts?

4 thoughts on “Marketing Monday – The Benefits of Book Chats

  1. So smart–to have parent/child events. I’m trying to figure out how to market my picture book. My buyer is actually the parent, but I also need be able to strike a chord with children (duh, right?). It’s a tricky place to be, though.

    Most of my blogging friends write YA and gear their blogs toward a teen audience. I don’t know any first graders who read blogs, so I’m going to need to network with some of these parenting and mom sites.

    sf

  2. Oh man, author visits! It’s kind of scary, but I think you must get used to them, huh? I hope if I ever do them and they have me speak to kids, it’s in smaller groups, especially since my target audience is older teens. I can see the eyes rolling now. Hehe.

    Great marketing info, my dear. You’re a great example of what works!

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