How to work with Bookstores to Market Events


You’ve found a bookstore that will host your workshops. It’s pretty exciting, but now comes the tough part of marketing the event, plus doing due diligence on your part to make sure that both you and the store are successful. Both you and the bookstore owner need to be on the same page if your event is going to be successful and this isn’t always as easy as you’d think. The following tips can help you work with a bookstore to market your event as well as handle all the other due diligence issues that need to be raised.

1. Agree on the price, date, & workshops. Ideally you should contact a shop no later than 2 months out from the proposed date (I’d recommend 6 months so you can plan your marketing campaign accordingly). Figure out a date, time, and workshops you’ll be offering as well as what the price should be. Typically shops will make an arrangement of 70-30% split with you receiving 70 and them receiving 30. Email them your workshop description.

Now this is where a lot of authors and bookstores stop. The date has been set, the price set, and the workshops figured out and sent for the shop to put on their website…however there’s a lot more which needs to be done if you want a successful event, and both the author and bookstore need to do some work if your event is going to be successful.

2. Make sure the bookstore is going to order your books for the event. There’s nothing worse than showing up to a bookstore, with no books for your event, because the bookstore didn’t order any. Make sure the owner knows which books need to be ordered, as well as providing them the contact information for your publisher or distributor. Don’t assume that they have this information. Send them an email with suggested books they can order for the event, as well as the necessary contact information to order the books.

3. Get your marketing materials together. It’s not enough to write-up a workshop description and post it on your website and on the bookstore’s website. You need to market your event using multiple marketing channels that will help you raise awareness and interest in the event. The bookstore needs to also help with this effort, since they, like you, should have an existing audience. So what should be done:

  • Promote the event through your e-newsletter and make sure the shop is doing it as well.
  • Set up a Google Plus and Facebook Event for your workshop. Don’t use just Google Plus or Facebook…use both because different people prefer different platforms.
  • Make sure the store has a Google Plus Community and a Facebook Group for their shop. Don’t post to their business page, because the reach is poor. Having a Facebook group and Google Plus community on the other hand can be very effective reaching out to the community that goes to the store. Make sure you aren’t just promoting your event. Make sure you also are posting excerpts from your blog, which allows you to share content with people and build a relationship (To learn more, go here). Interacting with people ahead of time will generate interest in you and your workshops, especially if people don’t already know who you are.
  • Get physical flyers made up and emailed to the store so the store can have them on site for people who are come into the store. Need help developing a flyer? I recommend Shauna Aura Knight‘s services. Also if you are doing other events in the area ahead of time, take flyers with you to give to people attending the event.
  • Schedule a call with the shop owner to discuss what each of you can do to market the event and also to check in ahead of time to make sure people are signing up for the event.

4. Launch your marketing campaign. Once all the pieces are in place, launch your event. This means you post your newsletter, post on your social media, have flyers on hand, and otherwise talk up the event when its relevant to do so. The bookstore should also be posting about your event and telling their customers about it when they stop in the store.

Doing all of these activities will help you make the event successful by getting people into seats. However, it is important to get the bookstore on board and doing marketing as well. Some owners and employees will be easier to work with than others, but be persistent and if necessary be willing to provide some ideas on how they can market the event.


How Bookstores and Authors can use Facebook Groups

FB group

Facebook is often touted as the need to be on site for social media. However, as anyone who has a business page on Facebook knows, Facebook isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and in fact is fairly unfriendly to business. The metrics that Facebook has set up for Business pages is designed to make sure that only a small amount of your fans will ever see your content, unless you pay Facebook to promote your posts. Even then, you will never hit your entire fan base or the people they know. In fact, what I’ve noticed about Facebook is that unless a person interacts with a business page on a regular basis, that page will disappear from their news feed. Obviously, this is not ideal for business owners. And while you can pay Facebook to boost your posts, unless you see a definitive ROI, you end up wasting a chunk of change that could go toward more effective methods of marketing your business.

The other day, thanks to an experience I had with Pathway Books in St. Louis, I came to a realization of how bookstores and authors can get around these particular issues. Pathway books has a Facebook group called Friends of Pathway. On it the various people in the community share something that interests them or talk about the bookstore or upcoming classes. The group gets more interaction and better metrics because it is a group, so Facebook isn’t filtering it in the same way that your business page is being filtered. I joined the group a few months back after I set up a couple of events at the bookstore. I started sharing my blog posts on that group page. I got some interaction from that group page. When I visited the store, everyone I met already knew me. We’d never met in person, yet nonetheless they already knew me and were excited to meet me in person. I’d never really seen that happen with other bookstores, but the owners of the store told me that my posts on that group page had already set up a buzz before the event.

My suggestion to independent bookstores is that they should set up a group page and invite their customers to join that group. Your bookstore isn’t just a store. It’s also a community center. It’s a place where people meet to buy books, get readings, meet authors, and attend workshops. Authors should also join such group pages and participate by sharing blog entries, information and occasional promotions of upcoming workshops at the bookstore. You need to make sure what you share is mostly content as opposed to promotions. You want the customers to get to know you and develop a relationship with you. When you visit the store, the customers will be excited to meet you and will also feel they already know you.

Getting creative with the social components of social media can help you find ways to get in front of your customers, build relationships with them and generate excitements and interest in the events. It can help bookstores also get in front of their customers and keep them in loop about the latest news, while also engaging the customer questions and commentary.