Are you ramping up for your summer book launch? Or maybe you’re getting ready for a reading at your local bookstore? Authors have been walking the same line when it comes to these sorts of events since well… basically forever. I’m here to say, that just as the book industry is changing, these events should be too. Let’s bid farewell to the cheesy pens and bookmark giveaways and welcome ourselves, and our marketing material, to the 21st century. Make yourself memorable and you’ll make your book more memorable too. Here are 5 tips to get you started!

1. Branding, Branding, Branding.

Need me to say that once more? Branding. We hear it all the time in this industry, but that’s because it is a necessary evil. If you don’t have a consistent brand, start developing it now. Make sure that everything you bring with you conveys your brand. For example, what are the key colors of your brand? Pick one and invest in a table cloth or two in the same shade. Tip here, while you may be tempted to dress to match your brand as well, make sure you don’t match your tables–as tempting as it is to be matchy-matchy, your photos will not thank you for it. Which brings me to the next point on this list, dress the part.

2. Don’t Trend On Me.

Don’t go all sorts of trend crazy here. Your outfit should be something you are completely comfortable in and it should be consistent with your brand image. Are you an author of a minimalist book? Stick with your typical sharp and sleek look. Are you an author of a children’s book? Wear some bright and fun colors that compliment your book cover and brand image.

3. Stop Giving Pens to People with Computers.

So maybe that’s going a little bit too far. The point I’d like to make is that you need to understand your target audience truly and fully. Especially when you’re shelling out the benjamins on events like this. Once you’ve got a good grasp on your target demographic, do some research and figure out what they like and what will have value for them. Then, instead of just giving it away, request that they subscribe to your mailing list or post a photo on social media using brand specific hashtags.

So for example, say your book is about veganism and your target audience is women ranging from 18-24 who are vegans or interested in veganism. In your research, you’d find that women in that age range are likely to own bags with a logo. So, find a company that will slap your logo on a vegan tote bag! While this example could end up costing you a bit more than the average promotional items, you’ll get a lot of return on it. Ask your fans to post pictures on social media of them using their bag at the grocery store or the beach and tag you in it and include a kitschy hashtag like #VegansBagVeganBooks. Go the extra mile here and you’ll see much more return on your investment than by shoving pens in the pockets of people who won’t use them.

4. Advertise to Your Tribe.

Leading up to your event, make sure you’re doing an ample amount of advertising in the accurate areas. If you know your target audience uses Facebook, target them more heavily there. If you are sure that Instagram is where your target audience hangs out, engage them there in the weeks leading up to it. Create the event online through a platform that will collect names and emails of people attending so you can email them leading up to the event. Develop hashtags ahead of time and use them as a pre-marketing campaign for the event. Share some photos of the curated swag you invested in to give your attendees.

You could even host a raffle by asking your fans to share about a post highlighting the event details and then raffle off a signed copy of your book and some extra swag at the event. The more reposts/shares they do, the more raffle entries they’ll get. People do these often on social media, don’t be afraid to use them to your advantage!

5. Relax, You’ll Do Great.

Lastly, relax. Enjoy the event you’ve created, even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned. If you’re relaxed and enjoying yourself, then chances are your guests will feel the same way.

When we’ve been doing something a certain way for so long and the hypothetical wheel is still spinning, it can be hard to justify switching things up. It’s time for us to bid farewell to the things that no longer serve us and our needs and embrace the things that will. What are your upcoming book events and will you utilize any of these suggestions? Comment below and let us know!