Bookstores and libraries are usually an author’s go-to for book tours, and rightfully so. These venues are ready and willing to host events, are experienced in scheduling and promoting authors, and draw well-read and curious crowds. But there are a number of other creative locations for book events that authors often don’t consider. Alternative book events can draw niche audiences interested in very specific topics, and they can put a spotlight on the author and his/her expertise.
Here are just a few ideas for alternative book events. This list isn’t exhaustive, but it should help to get your gears turning for your own book project.
Specialty stores. Last spring, Orange Frazer Press released Back to Eden: Landscaping with Native Plants, a gardener’s guide to using native plants in home gardens. We knew that we needed a very specific audience for the author’s events: skilled gardeners with an interest in trying new plants that are both native and available or for sale in their region. We also knew that the event host should gain something from holding the event. To that end, we contacted a few of our local garden centers, ones with substantial stocks of native perennials, and asked if they would be interested in hosting a native plants workshop with the author. The response was incredible, and the events ended up being very successful for both the author (who sold a significant number of books) and the garden center host (who sold a significant number of native perennials).
Regional fairs and festivals. Book festivals are, of course, one excellent avenue for book-promoting authors, but also consider craft fairs, antique shows, and other niche festivals and conferences. Perhaps you wrote a book on hiking the Appalachian Trail, and there is an outdoors fair at your local REI, or maybe you’ve written a novel set during the Civil War, and there is a Civil War reenactment outside of your city. You can search for fairs, festivals, tradeshows, and conferences through area event centers or through online calendars (your local newspaper, your state’s travel magazine, etc.). Offering to be a guest speaker, panel participant, or workshop host at one of these events will position you for even greater success, giving you the opportunity to sell your book to enthusiastic attendees.
Clubs, associations, and organizations. Every city has its fair share of private groups—country clubs, craft/hobby meetups, book discussion circles, and the list goes on. Consider contacting relevant groups/clubs in your region, and offer to be a guest speaker at one of their meetings or special events. These groups are often actively seeking out speakers, and most will gladly welcome a free offering. You can put together a short presentation about your particular setting, area of expertise, or topic, and then sell books to attendees at the conclusion. Meetup.com is a great way to start searching for relevant groups.
What creative locations have you used for book or author events?