The Return of Offline Author Engagements and Author Events – The Urban Writers

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Back to Basics: The Renaissance of Offline Author Engagements

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by The Urban Writers

Offline author engagements have seen growth in recent times, with author events becoming a really valuable tool for in-person author interactions with readers. Let’s look into the renaissance of engagements offline for authors.

Renaissance of Engagements

Since the dawn of the internet in the 1990s, the world has gradually moved more online. In the past 15 years, in particular, digital socializing has become a very prominent part of everyday life with the growth of social media platforms. Since 2010, eCommerce has grown rapidly, with so much shopping being done online rather than in person these days. The digital world continues to grow and shows no signs of slowing down.

Between 2020 and 2022, the pandemic meant that much of our daily lives moved to the online world. Many people with jobs that could be done from home embraced remote working as the norm. A lot of socializing went virtual. Amenities around local communities started hosting online events. We are still seeing the knock-on effect of this year, with remote working being a normal part of life. However, we are also seeing a renaissance of engagements in the real world.

Maybe it’s because for a couple of horrible years we were all mostly stuck in doors and had to keep our distance. That isolation may have made us crave the in-person interaction we once took for granted. We've seen a renewed enthusiasm for real-life offline events.

This goes too for author events. Thankfully, reading was something we could still do during the pandemic, but we missed out on in-person author interactions. Maybe part of it, too, is the fact that just about everything nowadays is digital and that we miss the old ways of offline author engagements.

Why In-Person Author Interactions Work

You’ve worked hard on your book for a long time, so you deserve a little fun. Author events are a great way of celebrating the completion of your hard work. You get to meet your readers and enjoy the fruits of your labor at an event that revolves around your book. They are also a really effective way of getting positive offline author engagements.

As writers, we often think of our books as a type of art and even as our children. And they are, in a way. It’s great that we love our work and feel a connection to it. But as well as that, being an author is a job, and in order to make a living out of it, we need to promote our work. Sometimes, we can spend so much time on the writing side of things that we actually forget about marketing ourselves, but it's a really important part of making a living as an author.

Offline author engagements give you a chance to sell your books, network, and promote yourself. Your readers want to feel like they know you and like they are part of a community. When they get to meet you in person, it helps them feel a greater connection to your work.

In addition to this, holding events for yourself as an author also helps you attract new readers. You want to constantly be growing and sustaining your audience, and these events will help you do that.

In-person author interactions

Types of Author Events

For in-person author interactions, we can look at four different types of events:

  • Signings
  • Book talks
  • Readings
  • Q&As

Oftentimes, the best way forward is to do a combination of two or more of these.

Signings

This is simple enough. You arrive at a predesignated place, usually a bookstore or library. People come to you with copies of their books (either that they have already bought or just bought now). You will sign your name on the book. This is a brief kind of offline author engagement. Signings work well after another type of author event.

Book Talks

This type of author event involves an author standing up and telling people about their book. You will discuss things like your inspiration for writing it and the message you were trying to get across. If you have written a nonfiction book and are an expert on the subject matter, you may talk generally about that. Alternatively, you could talk about your journey writing the book and even your life.

Readings

As the name suggests, a reading is where you read a section of your book to an audience. Oftentimes, these author events will involve multiple readings, sometimes with a specific theme. Think carefully about which section you choose to read; oftentimes, the opening is a good place to start.

Q&As

Question-and-answer sessions are an effective form of offline author engagement because they allow you to share information about your book. Generally, there will be a host who asks you prepared questions before opening it up to the floor.

As we said, the best way forward is usually to combine these different aspects of the author's events into one. The renaissance of engagements means people expect more from their events, so having a book talk and brief reading followed by a Q&A and signing is a good way to offer a well-rounded experience for your readers.

How to Attract People to Your Author Events

If you want offline author engagement, then you need people to show up to your author event. If you are with a literary agent, then they can help you with promotion. But if you are a self-published indie author, then you will need to do the promotion work yourself.

You want to start promoting your event at least 6 to 8 weeks prior to it happening. If you leave people with too much notice, then they won't be able to plan to attend. Letting people know about two months in advance is a good way of ensuring they can save the date.

The promotion work is really important. Social media is a great marketing tool. The vast majority of your potential readers will have some social media presence. Make sure you are posting the right content on the right platform. Images and videos are good for getting engagement. And always use appropriate hashtags.

Make sure you promote your event to people you know as well. If you are in any author groups or literary groups, then that is a great place to start promoting your event. Putting together a press release for local radio and news outlets is an effective way of ensuring people are aware of your event.

It can be very difficult to attract people to your event for just one indie author. Consider teaming up with more authors to have a bigger event. You could get 3 or 4 authors to each do a reading, allowing time for in-person author interactions afterwards.

Author Events

Tips for Offline Author Engagement

Here are eight tips to maximize your offline author engagements:

  1. Thank you to the people who attended. Even if you are disappointed in the turnout, make sure you show appreciation to those who gave up their time to attend your author event.
  2. Have copies of your books ready. The whole point of these in-person author interactions where you promote your book is so you can sell copies. Make sure you have plenty of physical copies of your books. If it is an ebook, then have information on where people can get it.
  3. Offline author engagements should translate into long-term followings. Promote your author's website (where you can sell directly to your readers) and social media to those who attend your talk to ensure you are building your audience. These events are a great place to get people to sign up for your mailing list. 
  4. Take the opportunity to build your contacts. If there are other authors at your event or people involved in the literary scene, make sure you network with them. Don’t be shy! The renaissance of engagements means more people are attending events with a purpose. Your next contact could be an invaluable one!
  5. Be polite to everyone. Unfortunately, out there in the big, bad world, people can be rude to us, but most people are nice. You can’t please everyone, but the best way to make a good impression on your potential readers is to be kind and curious.
  6. Prepare more than you need. The last thing you want is to run out of things to talk about.
  7. When you get up to talk, take a deep breath and smile. It’s normal to be nervous, but if you take a moment to compose yourself, you will be fine. Don’t rush, and add some character to what you are saying. Pitch your book with confidence, and people will believe what you tell them.
  8. Laugh off any hiccups. Things will go wrong on that day. If you have a projector or audio you want to be played; chances are there will be a technical difficulty. It’s inevitable that there will be some issues at your event. Everything can be dealt with, so just relax and have a sense of humor about it.

Online-Offline Balance

In-person author interactions are valuable, with the renaissance of engagements around things like author events proving that it’s necessary for writers to interact with people. But don't be mistaken; this is certainly a place for online as well as offline author engagements.

Modern life means we often look for a quick black-and-white solution, but with most things, striking a balance is the right move. For authors, a mixture of online and offline interaction and engagement with readers is the best way forward.

Both offline and online events offer advantages and disadvantages, and it is important not to dismiss either. So much of the world exists digitally nowadays. An online platform and presence are a must for every author in the modern literary world. Readers will undoubtedly want to search for your name and books online, and you will need to have a digital presence for new readers to find you. In the past, people would just go into bookstores and wander through the isles before picking out a book. While bookstores are still here, people often look for books online first and may even just purchase them through an online outlet.

The best practice for authors is to mix offline and online. Hold events in person, but also consider doing online events, promotions, and giveaways. You can marry online and offline into a great marketing strategy for yourself as an author. Your in-person events will generally point back to something online, like an author website or a mailing list.

Considerations for Choosing Author Events

So, how do you know what the best way forward is for you? How do you choose between online and offline author engagements?

Consider your target audience when thinking about author events. Who are you trying to connect with and appeal to? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Online events can be cheaper and take up fewer resources. You don’t need a lot of physical space.
  • Online events can be more accessible for people with physical disabilities as they do not have to travel.
  • Online events can be difficult for people who do not have the technical know-how or skills to use software.
  • Online events allow you to reach a broader geographical audience.
  • In-person author interactions are beneficial for getting the nuance of what someone is saying.
  • It can be easier to get people to interact with you in offline author engagements.

So there are positives and negatives to both, and no one size fits all. This is why a blended approach between online and offline interactions is the best way to go. So, when planning events for yourself as an author, think about who you are trying to reach, what kind of event it is, and whether or not you want the audience to interact with you.

Author Events

Final Thoughts

Author events are a valuable tool for promoting your work, with offline author engagements on the rise. It’s possible that we took in-person author interactions for granted in the past, which has led to a renaissance of engagements in the real world.

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