Be clear about your objectives. What do you want from your book festival appearance? Publicity, book sales, a chance to communicate with your readers? Use objectives to plan your strategy.
- Will you be paid? Be sure to discuss this with the organiser at the outset. You may get a small fee to cover travelling expenses, or there may be no payment at all. This may determine where – or if – you accept an invitation to speak. Venues close to home are more affordable than those which require an overnight stay.
- Ensure that your speaking arrangement includes an opportunity to sell your books. Can you offer a special discounted price? Ideally, combine your appearance with a book signing.
- Find out as much as possible about the venue’s facilities. Do you need a microphone, slide projector, screen? Is there someone to give technical advice and support?
- Ask to see advance proofs of any brochures/posters prepared by the organisers to ensure that details regarding your name, book title, time and date of your appearance are correct.
- Always do your own publicity.
- Prepare a press release of up to 400 words with your contact details. Attach a separate Title Sheet with all relevant commercial information about your book (e.g. Title, ISBN, publisher, price, summary). Include good quality photos of yourself and your book jacket.
- Send your publicity material out in good time i.e. 6-4 weeks before the event. Include local press, radio, TV, free magazines and newspapers. Be prepared to chase up with phone calls.
- If you are being interviewed, send the interviewer a copy of your book and all relevant background information in advance. The better informed they are, the easier and more interesting your interview will be.
- Prepare thoroughly for your talk or interview. Slides lend visual interest to any talk but don’t use more than six. Have a practice run beforehand and read your notes aloud. Most importantly, time yourself to prevent over- or under-running. Don’t speak for longer than 45 minutes. Allow 15 minutes for questions and answers. Be prepared to fill awkward silences.
- Any interview or talk must include readings from your book. Make these brief – about three minutes each – and two to three in total. Choose wisely!
- Avoid graveyard slots. Audiences get sleepy after lunch. Any suggestion that they can concentrate better with their eyes closed is generally contradicted by the sound of rhythmic breathing interspersed with snores!
- Make the most of the opportunity to meet your readers and attract new ones.
- Get a friend to take photographs or a short video of your appearance. Post these up on your website and YouTube. For example, click here and scroll down to see a clip from the Folkestone Book Festival.
- Important! Don’t forget to do some post-event publicity. Although often overlooked, this can provide some valuable extra coverage. Update your press release and re-submit to the media with some photos of your appearance at the festival.
Above all, enjoy yourself.
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