Updated: Nov 23
New or established author, self- or traditionally published, a primer for getting started in the world of events
What is an author event? Any situation in which you’re using your status as an author to increase visibility for you and your book/s and/or to make money from that status, your books, or some combination of each. Whether you have one self-published ebook, a dozen traditionally published books, scholarly and professional titles, or a mishmash of book formats and publishing types, you can do author events, and this article is your primer to developing an income stream from that world.
Know the wide world of author events.
Parties. Every book needs a launch party or series of parties, even a belated party if this was accidentally skipped or sabotaged by a pandemic. Host such parties at bookstores, friends’ houses, bars, restaurants, club meetings, museums, libraries, or locations that tie into the book’s theme.
Other people’s parties. Promote yourself as a cool party feature for private and corporate events. Consider how you can be a more highbrow version of the balloon animal artist or table magician — the literary equivalent of the string quartet. Be a featured guest. Set up an elegant alcove where you can sign books and answer questions one-on-one about writing and publishing or your book’s topic.
Booksignings. At bookstores. At gift shops, museum stores, or other retailers related to your book’s theme/s or natural customers. What else can you offer as you sit behind the signing table? Set up a poster board or table tent with info for others and QR codes to your social media handles. Collect emails for your mailing list.
Speaking gigs. Here’s a step-by-step how-to guide to speaking gigs for authors and writers.
Classes. Teach something to a group of people. Experiment with topics (related to your book, your expertise, your writing), class sizes, audience types, and classroom settings.
Workshops. Find the hands-on components of what you can teach. What can others learn by doing, guided by you?
Group coaching. Coach a small group in your area of expertise or some aspect of writing or publishing.
Conventions and trade shows. Sit at vendor or organization booths as a convention attraction. Read more in this piece about maxing out your book’s themes.
Understand the ways of making money
Book sales. Individual and volume sales. Advance sales, event sales, post-event sales. Discounted, full-price, bundled with event fees or services.
Flat fees. This includes appearance fees (when appropriate), speaking fees, and class/workshop/tour fees when a larger entity pays your price.
Per-person fees. When you’re paid individually by every person in attendance. I like per-person event/book sale combos, in which an event’s ticket price includes a book. Negotiate for that as often as possible.
Sponsorships, commissions, and cross-promotions. Read more about these here (#7).
Consulting fees. Find the ways you can leverage your authorhood into consulting gigs. See one-hour calls below for an easy entrée into this world.
Pair income with other author goals.
All of us in the creator economy and micro business space know the value of double- and triple-duty strategies and optimizing situations for all their worth. Comb this list of 52 benefits of being an author to identify outcomes of authorhood you may not even have considered, then align your event activities to cultivate these perks while making a living.
Maintain a business mindset.
Use these events to build a cottage industry around your book. Treat them as the income source (immediate, deferred, or both) that they are and bring your professional game.
Remember: Work is the price of money. Work the event and the room; serve those in attendance.
You can’t go wrong with a win-win attitude, but once you’ve mastered that, it’s time to go exponential and practice win to the x.
Focus on your advantages.
Tap into who you are and mine these eight areas for finding and developing the right events for you: your personal strengths; how others see you; your interests and skills (existing and desired); the needs of your books, readers, and customers; your values and priorities; your short- and long-term goals; your connections and networks; your current schedule and life constraints and your dream life.
Use checklists and continually refine them.
Begin a checklist for every type of event you do that includes pre-event (conception, planning, promotion, budget, speech prep, visuals, etc.), event (demeanor, attire, logistics, props and set-up, program details, calls-to-action, mailing list, etc.) and post-event (follow-ups, social media, traditional media, thank yous, post-mortem notes, etc.) items.
Make notes during an event on things you want to remember. After each event, reflect on what worked and didn’t work. Use both to refine your checklists for future use.
Offer additional services.
Use every author event to both line up additional author events and promote other books, products, and services you offer. Make your requests, invitations, and calls-to-action before and after any public speaking, and in one-on-one interactions. List options on all signage and handouts and in any event follow-up emails and social media posts. What are some possible offerings?
School programs. Create book-author presentations for schools K through college at the right level for your readers, including an option for advance and/or volume sales with special pricing.
Tours. Turn book-related material into a program you can give by foot, bike, segue, scooter, trolley, bus, boat…
One-hour calls. Use my template for one-hour consulting conversations in which you share your expertise.
Anything and everything? If you’re quick on your feet and can spin an offering out of thin air on the spot, go for it. Here’s a proven mindset/formula for this category.
To summarize money-making through author events
New or established, self-published or traditionally published, if you have even one published book, you can begin making money and gaining new exposure through author events.
Know the full spectrum of event possibilities.
Keep the various ways of making money through events top of mind.
Pair the events with your author goals to optimize results and satisfaction.
Approach the events as a business and your job.
Mine eight different places for customizing events to your advantage.
Work from checklists that you continuously tweak with every experience.
Use every author event to both line up additional author events and promote other books, products, and services you offer.
Follow every link and thread for maximum results. It’s a lot of information, but all well-tested. Start your plan with the basics and grow it as you can.