As mentioned in my last post, in between my public bookstore events, I’ll be attending numerous private events. These are some of the different kinds:

1) Book club meetings. It’s becoming happily common for authors to “attend” book club meetings remotely, by Skype or speakerphone or online chat. I hope to do some of that too. But while I’m traveling, I have the wonderful opportunity of attending some book club meetings in person. The most basic way to do this is that members have already bought and read the book, and I will meet with them for discussion and questions in a home (if I know them) or, say, a cafe (if I don’t).

2) Some book clubs are excited about my book, but won’t have the chance to pre-read it before I’m in town. In those cases, I’ve suggested a pre-read meeting at a local bookstore cafe, for a mini-version of my presentation and private q-and-a. They can buy the book on the spot, and I can sign it.

3) Private parties. Some of my wonderful friends are throwing parties. I’m prepared to give a presentation, answer questions, and sign books, while chatting and eating. Because the invitations are for personal friends, and the events held in the host’s home, I felt that invitees are more likely to commit to attend than if the event were public or in a neutral place. For that reason, whenever someone has offered to set up a public event or a private party, I’ve gone for the private party.

4) Miscellaneous:
At a senior center, I’m giving a “How Publishing Works” talk, introducing the basics about query letters and identifying scams.
Memorably, a friend who has a private law practice is buying dozens of copies of the book, which I’ll sign and he’ll give away as a “client appreciation” perk.

Most of these events have come about through the efforts of friends. What worked well for me was sending out an e-newsletter letting people know the itinerary for my bookstore events, and asking if they had any ideas for other things I could do while I was in town. People really came through. But, it wasn’t always the people I expected. (That’s the topic of the next post.) Let everyone know you’ll be around and ask “Is there anything I can do for you and for any groups you know of while I’m in town?” Maybe people will think you don’t have time. Let them know you WANT help.

A few of these events were arranged as the result of cold contacts. I googled my little heart out for book clubs and other relevant groups, and then emailed, politely and SPECIFICALLY, to offer to “do something for your group while I’m in town.” Out of about fifteen cold contacts I made, two good events came out of them.

For events taking place outside of bookstores, local booksellers will be on hand to sell books. That’s called an “offsite“. I thought that would only be possible for very large events, but those I’ve asked have been very willing, even for small events. The important thing is to get a sense of the RSVPs ahead of time, so that the stores can order the right number of copies.

What other ideas would you suggest? How can a writer make the best use of traveling?

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