Irish indie author Lorna Sixsmith shows lateral thinking by setting up a farming-themed festive event for rural interest authors.
I didn’t have a book launch for my second book How To Be A Perfect Farm Wife. I had planned to hold it in a local bookshop on 11th September. However, the decision in July to restructure and hence rewrite my non-fiction book meant I was under pressure. As my book is about farming, I had booked a stand at Ireland’s largest three-day agricultural show from 22nd until 24th September. I had to make that deadline, as I knew that having a humourous book at the show was going to guarantee me some radio interviews and newspaper coverage.
No Launch = No Stress
I’ll be honest. I was somewhat relieved to have cancelled the launch and I really didn’t want to have one after the agricultural show. I knew a number of people would have already purchased the book, and I hate worrying about whether people will turn up or not.
However, two authors of farming books had planned to travel to my launch from Northern Ireland, and I was looking forward to seeing them. That planted the seeds for my idea: to organise a pre-Christmas event for authors of farm books where readers could buy Christmas gifts, get books signed and have a chat with their favourite authors. It would give authors a chance to meet each other in person.
Farming books of all types tend to sell well as Christmas gifts too.
Alternative Festive Farming Event
It was quite easy to organise. I emailed all the farming authors I knew personally or via social media, and seven of the eight were able to come along and were delighted to be asked. Four were local, and three had to travel quite a distance! Three of the authors are self-published and the others published by a variety of publishers. Liz of Stone House Books in Kilkenny was delighted to host the event. Having organised similar events in the past, she advised timing the event for 6-8pm as people tend to pop in after shopping elsewhere.
Having set the date, Liz and I set about publicising the event. We settled on the name “Rural Reading for Christmas”, and I showed Liz how to set up an event on Facebook, I publicised it on my blog, my newsletter and on Twitter. Although we didn’t get publicity in the local newspaper, it secured a mention in a national farming newspaper.
Bonus Radio Show
We also contacted the local radio station and I was hoping that they would do an interview with some of the authors on the night, although I presumed it then wouldn’t be broadcast until the following week.
However, it was even better than that. The presenter of the Farming Show agreed to devote the whole show to interviewing each and every one of the authors. The Farming Show goes out every Thursday 7-8pm, so it went out the night before our event on 20th November. We knew significant numbers of our target market would be listening.
More than Alright on the Night!
The event itself was lovely. Liz provided delicious nibbles and drinks. Readers came in and mingled, getting books signed and buying Christmas gifts. A photographer from the local newspaper took a photo of all the authors and some customers with their signed copies with authors. As the writers got to know each other well the previous night during the radio interview, we all enjoyed chatting again.
It didn’t make it into the local newspaper this week. It would have been nice to get follow-up publicity, but there’s a lot of competition for space at this time of year. Unfortunately, I hadn’t thought of getting someone to take a photograph of all the authors with my phone when the newspaper photographer was taking the photo, so I don’t have one of all the authors with their books.
Organising a book event like this, with a common theme such as the subject matter of farming, makes it easier to get press coverage as you can focus your attention on your ideal reader. It also has the benefit of helping authors get to know each other. Although we did ours in the run-up to Christmas, it's something you could do any time of year.
OVER TO YOU If you have a particular marketing success story or clever idea that you'd like to share, we'd love to hear about it!How to run a themed book event with other indie #authors by @LornaSixsmith Click To Tweet
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Just to mention that we did get newspaper coverage after all, it was in today’s local paper – half a page which included 3 photographs so that should help to promote all the books in the run up to Christmas too.
What a great idea, Lorna! I would have loved to know about this before it happened. I live on a farm in Fermanagh and write historical fiction. I have done a short contemporary collection of stories that have a rural theme to them too. I’d love to know who the other authors were who took part as it would be great to connect with everyone.
Oh, Dianne, what a shame. You never know, we might do something similar again next year or even for the Ploughing Championships in September. We were featured in the local paper today after all so that was an additional bit of press too.
Sounds like loads of fun! Made me want to be a part of it, even if I don’t write about farming. Well done!
It was good fun, lovely to get to know the other authors better too as I only knew some of them via social media.