After years of seeing ticketed events in the newspaper at universities and bookstores, and attending one, I thought it might be interesting to try such a thing for a book launch. It was my twentieth book, by the way. Is a ticketed event right for you? Here are some ins and outs from my experience. First consider the following:
Type of Event
Date and Time
First of all, do you have the chops to ask people to pay to see you? Are you going to speak, offer entertainment, goody bags, food, or a meal? One of your books? If you have some presence in your community, by all means, try it. As I mentioned, this was my twentieth book, but I also ganged up with another author who did quite a bit of footwork gathering gifts for gift bags for paid attendees while I concentrated on the food. It was good to have another author with me.
For the venue, we worked with a local bookstore owner who was enthusiastic about the idea. She bought some expensive ads, promoted the event for several weeks, and hosted the event after hours at her store. For our purposes, the space was a little cramped by the time we had our event due to her expanding stock, but our guests enjoyed browsing the store and she made numerous sales. There wasn’t a good place for us to do any readings, but mingling happened to work out all right. She also provided canvas bags for the gift bags.
The price we agreed on was meant to include copies of our books, so there were guaranteed sales. We were careful to set a price we felt the community would respond to, and made sure to advertise that the amount of “swag” the attendees were getting in exchange was well worth the price.
We chose a week date around the time of Wisconsin deer hunting in fall, the weekend before Thanksgiving, and so our theme was a ladies night out, wine and cheese tasting. I prepared dipping oils, bread, and we visited a local cheese company who gave us 10% off coupons to put in the swag. My friend arranged for a wine merchant to offer nice deals on wine which we featured at our event, and put the coupons in the bags. The store owner also had a coupon for that night or later. We each added little items besides a copy of a book. The other ticketed event I attended was not just an author talk but a nice meal and book signing hosted by a chain book store.
The Result: A local reporter visited for a brief newspaper article, but some photos and some interviews would have been nice. We both advertised the event and my friend had some fans come a fair distance. I invited a number of folks who came, and we did have a few people who came because of the ads. I thought it would be fair to split the evening ticket take three ways because the venue host had paid so much for ads, but after thinking about it, realized she probably did pretty well with sales, whereas we didn’t make that much on sales of our other books besides the ticketed one. Because of that, my friend and I didn’t make much money on this event, but it was fun and we met a few new people from the area. We do plan to do it again, but will try to have some kind of scheduled talk or reading time, and perhaps some other entertainment and charge more. We’re still debating on matching her theme of story or mine. I’ll let you know what happens.