Why Author Events Fail

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As authors, it is a constant struggle to get our name out. If you think about it, authors often get caught up in numbers and sales. However, it’s not all about us. We exist because we love what we do, and that includes loving our readers. Without our readers, we would not exist. We couldn’t afford editing, cover design, swag, advertising, events, etc.  But, how do we get our names out without wasting our time and money?

One of the solutions to this, is attending author events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everybody. Below are reasons why author events nationwise fail.

  • Too Many Authors – This can be a double-edged sword.
    • Good:
      • The event has an established reputation
      • Word of mouth has been previously successful
      • Location is good to shop at
      • A better chance of a wide range of genres being represented
    • Bad:
      • Permits readers to be more choosy
      • Overwhelms your reader
      • Readers will skip authors, leaving someone to feel left out
  • Advertising – This is like getting butts into the seats at the theatre. If you don’t properly advertise beyond your circle of friends, and trust that you’ll be successful simply through word of mouth, people aren’t going to show up.
  • The Host – Do your research. If your host is a self-published author, this should be a red flag.  What makes them an expert in running this type of event? How do you know their event will be successful?
  • First-Year Events – AVOID! Allow that event to properly establish itself first before committing. Make that event prove to you it is worth your time and money.
  • Location – Do people know where to find your venue? Are there signs clearly posted outside?
  • Sponsors – Are the sponsors listed on the event actually sponsoring it or are being name dropped. What are they doing to advertise the event?
  • Not Knowing Your Competition – What other type of events are going on that may help or hinder your traffic flow?
  • Weather – While these type of events are scheduled months in advance, it is good to have a back-up venue if you are going to be outside.
  • Cost – I can say before I became an author, I was completely oblivious that authors have to buy their own table, so they are already starting their day in the red. However, venues also cost money, so, what is the right price to charge both author and reader attendees?
  • Parking – Is there enough parking to handle your traffic? You don’t want your customers leaving before they get there due to frustration of being unable to find a place to park
  • Being UnFamiliar With Your Target Audience – Where do they tend to go? Comic shops? Bookstores? Coffee shops?
    • I’ve learned my target audience (Doctor Who fans) go to Comic Con, and not typically to these type of events.
    • However, if you’re a romance author, for example, you will probably do well at an author event.
  • Allowing Pre-Orders – Readers will buy books ahead of time, go to the event solely to pick up their pre-orders, and leave without bothering to check out the other authors.
  • Not Knowing Your Authors – THIS, ladies and gentlemen is the #1 reason these author events fail.
    • “Why should I buy this author’s book when I don’t know who he/she is.”
    • Next time you catch yourself doing this, remember that those popular authors you do know: Rachel Caine, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, etc, were once unknowns, too.

Are you an author reading this post? See something I have not covered? Have you attended an event that went superly well? What made it spectacular? On the other side of the coin, have you attended an event that went horribly wrong? What went wrong?

I want to hear your voice! Comment below.

 

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4 thoughts on “Why Author Events Fail

  1. This is a good post, the only thing I question is where you say it’s a red flag if the event is hosted by a self-published author. Ten years ago, I would have agreed with you. But not in the current market. These days, Indie authors are often the ones who know the most about how to market books. The successful ones, and there are many, have chosen to self-publish. There is no longer a stigma attached to it. That said, not all authors who self-publish are market savvy…but many are.

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    1. I understand your point, and you make a good one, however, these events are failing. So, that means these self-published authors who are doing these events, cannot possibly know the market, because otherwise these events would be successful. Instead, they are constantly failing.

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      1. “I understand your point, and you make a good one, however, these events are failing. So, that means these self-published authors who are doing these events, cannot possibly know the market, because otherwise these events would be successful. Instead, they are constantly failing.”

        Hilary Storm is a self-published author who puts on numerous successful events every year.

        Naughty Nashville/San Diego/Myrtle Beach are put on by a duo of self-published authors. These too are successful signings.

        Kat T. Martin, a self-published author, puts on an annual, noteworthy, event in Australia every year, and is bringing it to New York this year. It’s slated to be a bigger event.

        Janine Infante Bosco started an event last year; this year’s is expected to be bigger than last.

        Jennifer L. Armentrout does her yearly Aploycon.

        PennedCon is put on by a husband-wife team of authors. PennedCon is HUGE! I went last year as a smaller indie author and nearly sold out even though huge names were in attendance.

        Finally, Colleen Hoover is putting on the inaugural BookBonanza next weekend. Yes, this goes to your too many authors point, but it’s a two day event with highly successful authors. This will be in the win column for those authors.

        Indies can, and do, put on successful events.

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  2. Those are all great examples. I have heard many good things about PennedCon, specifically. I can name another one missed on this list- Once Upon A Book that takes place in Frankenmuth, MI. Great location and a magnificent host. This year it will be the biggest one ever. Yet, despite how wonderful it is, I did terrible last year. Most readers, in fact, walked past me as if I didn’t exist. The host was appallad to learn this. Would that mean I don’t know how to sell? Absolutely not as I have been told my display multiple times is one of the best around, and my one book has sold spectacularly enough to be traditionally signed by a publisher. The point I’m making is just because these events above are good, this type of venue doesn’t work for many, thus we continue to have events that fail. Perhaps, the hosts mentioned above could help “share” what has worked so that others may be able to become successful with their events in their area.

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