Introduction to the Guide

The best thing that can happen to a good book is a good bookseller. It's why the audience for author events goes beyond readers—they're a chance to sell booksellers on why a writer, and their work, deserves a champion. Indie bookstores offer their customers one-on-one relationships; making a great impression on them offers writers a chance to be a part of that exchange too.
 --Caroline Casey, Managing Director, Coffee House Press

How do bookstore events sell books? We all accept at least on some level, that authors perform in bookstores to create sales for their books, but, most authors haven’t spent much thought on how bookstore events sell books.

They inspire people who were not planning on buying the book to buy the book, they inspire people who planned to buy the book to buy more than one copy, they introduce your work to people who have never heard of you, they create publicity for your book both before and after the event through your own and the bookstore’s channels, and they establish relationships with booksellers who could continue to sell your book for months after the event. None of that requires a mind-blowing, life-changing, tear-jerking, ovation-standing performance.

Not everyone is a natural performer. Not everyone can stand in front of a microphone and exude charm and charisma, demonstrate their brilliance with language on the fly, and/or imbue their voice with the emotions their words convey. Not everyone is capable of bringing a group of strangers (or, to be a little more statistically accurate, a group of friends and family) to their feet, but with a little practice every author is capable of putting on memorable performances that introduce their work to and make positive impressions on readers and booksellers.

This guide is designed to lead you through the entire process of preparing for and giving memorable bookstore events. I’m not going to lie. This guide won’t turn you into Sherman Alexie or Amanda Palmer, but it will give you a structure to prepare and a sense of how to conduct yourself before, during, and after the event, lead you through the day of your event, and include a few other tips, so that you can be confident while sharing your brain out loud in front of strangers, selling some books, and winning some fans. And then you can go back to the safe solitude of your writing desk to crank out your next book.

Order the Complete Guide to Performing at Bookstore Events.