Thursday, April 11, 2013

How Virtual and Real-World Events Can Nurture Your Writing Career

What’s a writer got to do to get noticed these days?

Feeding your fictional (or non-fictional) passion requires more than simply creating beautiful works of words. Readings, panels, classes, and presentations (whether on- and offline) can be a great boon to your exposure – and your bottom line.

Strengthening Relationships with Fans 

Self-published authors are pretty much on their own when it comes to building a platform of zealous fans (although it is possible to contract out publicity services, as long as you find a reputable person or organization). The strongest relationships are formed when you meet and engage people in conversation – either in the real world, or the virtual one. It can take some work to get comfortable with the idea of showcasing yourself live in front of strangers, but it helps to think of the lives you can potentially touch, teach, and inspire with your words.

If you’re traditionally published, your publisher will probably be able to assist in this arena – after all, it’s in their best interest to improve your visibility. Still, it doesn’t hurt to take as active a part as you can. For example, check out Togather; it’s a great option for getting fans to commit to an event so you don’t show up to an empty room.

Strengthening Relationships with Partners

Quality of participation is always important, but when it comes to feeding and caring for a growing career, quantity can’t be ignored. The best first step to building up an attendance for your event is to partner with already established individuals and groups.

A venue is much more likely to show interest if you have multiple authors on board, so look into making connections with other writers in your area. Another great option is to find writing, fiction, or genre-minded groups on Meetup; the organizers are often more than happy to have someone come up with creative new event ideas.

For online events, establishing relationships with bloggers and people well-known on social media outlets is a great approach. From there, it’s just a small jump to organize Google Hangouts, podcasts, and Livestreams of real-world chat.

Multiplying Your Message

So you organize your event, spread the word, and get people to show up. That’s the most important part of the process, right?

Not exactly. What happens during your allotted time slot has very little to do with the huge impact that regular event-scheduling can have. First off, just the act of committing yourself to do something demonstrates your dedication to your work. Every email you send or article you post about the event raises awareness; even if the targeted individuals don’t show up, they now know more about what’s going on in your writing life. An event can be newsworthy, inspiring press releases that potentially get picked up by media outlets. Before, during, and after the event, you have the opportunity to collect a whole host of multi-media assets (photos, video, audio clips, etc.) that can be written about, shared, and repackaged in a hundred different ways to be doled out over time.

Selling (or Pre-Selling) Copies of Your Stuff

People love coming away from event with physical mementos. Pounding the pavement with copies of your opus in hand, and not being shy about putting out your For Sale sign, can really help to accelerate your sales. One caveat: the after-event period can be a hectic one that’s not always conducive to the slow process of actually selling your work. Consider holding an event where the entry cost is a copy of your book (which can be paid for beforehand.)

In addition, the fact that a person saw you live means that the hardcopy of your work is suddenly much more valuable – especially if signed. Plenty of individuals buy plenty of books and let them molder on shelves; wouldn’t you rather produce books that actually get consumed?

It’s true that arranging events is yet another task to add to the endless list of writing marketing and promotion activities. However, the results are worth it – and besides, it’s just plain fun to see people get excited about your creative pursuits!

Image by alexkerhead on Flickr.

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