How to Turn a Conference into a Book Tour

 

Way back in February of this year, when I found out I’d be presenting at the left hand path conference, I decided that I’d set up a book tour around the event. It costs a lot to fly to the midwest and I wanted to get the most out of that cost. So I decided to turn the conference into an excuse to do a book tour, complete with workshops at places that were relatively close to the conference. You can do the same thing with your own trips, but there are some considerations to keep in mind.

I originally tried to set up a weekend intensive in Chicago, which didn’t quite work out, but I was able to fortunately turn it into an opportunities to present at book shops there. There were a few reasons the weekend intensive didn’t work out. First it was scheduled during the summer, in the midst of a number of festivals. Competing against other events during a season where people don’t want to go indoors wasn’t helpful. Another factor was the city itself. Large cities are not easy to drive, or park in. Finally I made the mistaken assumption that I’d be well-known enough to grab people’s interest with an intensive, when what I needed to recognize is that I needed to build my audience there first.

Nonetheless even though the weekend intensive didn’t work out, I was able to set up events at bookshops, with little notice. I don’t recommend it if you can help it, and if you have to do that, make sure you have marketing resources such as flyers and Facebook headers ready to go. Actually you should do that regardless. I also set up events in St. Louis and Indianapolis. In those cases, I was just doing single workshops and using the opportunity to build up an audience, which is the correct way to go about establishing yourself as someone people would like to see come back to their venue. In each case, I provided flyers well ahead of time as well as setting up a Facebook header for the event.

While having these marketing tools on hand is helpful, you also need to make sure that the shop hosting you is actually using them. In one case, the shop did use the flyers and had them up all over the shop. They also had books ordered ahead of time. In the other shop, no flyers were posted and no books were bought. This indicated to me that I needed to not just provide the materials, but also schedule a conference with the store owners to go over our marketing strategies together. However that’s not always easy to accomplish (That’s a post for another day).

Setting up events around the conference I was attending did allow me to make some connections with people and places where I could present in the future. If you know your going to be on a trip, why not make it a bit longer (if you can) and visit some of the surrounding areas? By doing that you can connect to other places for future events, get to know people who like your books and establish a demand to have you back in the future.

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