Imagine: your book display catches a reader’s eye from across a crowded room. They swing by, pick up your book, and read the jacket blurb. They linger. They whip out their phone and scan the ISBN barcode for more info. And the next thing you know, they’re spelling their name aloud so you can personalize their copy. Ah…it’s a match!
Book promotion is a lot like matchmaking. That’s why the cover, title, blurb, and…you guessed it…table display at book events all work together to attract your next reader. Here are a few tips on how to prepare for your next author event:
- Create a display that matches your book. Outside of stacks of your books on the table, what else might set the stage? A few props can go a long way and be nice conversation starters. For example, while editing my WWII-era novel, I searched Etsy to find a Roaring ‘2os compact mirror that I could describe for my character. I then purchased it and now use it as part of my display.Last November, I walked into an antique store called Vintage Finds on Grand, and picked up white gloves, a netted veil, and the perfect trunk that my 1940s protagonist, Sadie Stark, might have used. The trunk is practical too in that I use it to transport my books to events. The owner of Vintage Finds on Grand was so gracious — she offered to host an event for me around the holidays and we’ve been friends ever since.
- Use a fabric table cloth with great color. Sure, the plastic ones are cheaper, but a fabric table linen will lay nicely and you can pull it down in front to hide extra boxes of books and whatnot under your table. I went with a red poinsettia damask (Sadie’s favorite flower). Then I layered it with a vintage cherry motif square tablecloth that belonged to my grandma.
- Go big in scale. Enlarge your book cover on prepared artist canvas and display it on an easel. Mine (pictured) was a surprise gift at my launch party from my best friend, Robin Siddoway, who happens to own a graphic design business called SiddyGirl (lucky me!). I love how she had the foresight to include my website address and author pic, but no other details that would’ve dated it, so I can take it along to any event. I hang it on the wall over my writing desk, and simply lift it off the nails when need be.
- Chocolates, candies, or mints are always a nice touch. Who doesn’t appreciate food? If nothing else, it gives people something to do. I serve up individually wrapped chocolates in the vintage milk glass bowl a book club gave me as a thank you.
- One key take away. Depending on your budget, this could involve a giveaway, a basket of goodies, maybe bookmarks with your book’s ISBN barcode, or other swag. Siddygirl made me business cards with my book’s cover on one side and an excerpt from the book on the other. Any promotional materials with your website, social media contact information, mailing list, etc. are terrific, but I wouldn’t go crazy. People won’t want to lug around a ton of printed materials they’ll ultimately pitch, but try to come up with one memorable take away if you can.
Carolyn Menke writes for adults and children. She is the author of Return To Me, a WWII-set women’s fiction, and I’m Yours, the companion novella, both published in 2015 by The Wild Rose Press. Carolyn has completed three novels for middle grade readers and is seeking representation.