The other day one of my new mentees asked me why I attend reader events when most readers want eBooks now days and you can promote your books online for free. First off, print books have more sells than electronic, but that’s neither her or there. Secondly, time is money. So the hours of time she spends chasing down readers should be calculated into her marketing cost. What worried me is my she thought there was no need to meet the readers in person anymore. She told me she doesn’t waste time with conferences because she won’t make the money back in sells. Soooo, I decided it’s time to write an article about why you should meet the readers.
In a few weeks, I’m headed to the Romance Slam Jam—the place for readers and authors of Black romance to meet. I’ve been attending this annual even over ten years. I originally attended as a reader of Black romance, then became an aspiring author and finally a published author of Black romance. I attend reader events quite often, because I am a reader, but this is the only conference that I attend regularly as an author. Readers read all year around. So by the time the conference comes around, the regulars already have my books, thus I don’t sell many books at the conferences. So why continue to go?
- Because this is my way of saying “Thank you for investing in me over the years and your continued support. The least I can do is spend a few days to hang with you.” You’d be shocked at how much readers appreciate authors not just being in sell mode. How much they appreciate you taking a little time to talk about what they love to read—your genre books. They want to see you as more than the author who just shows up when they have a new release saying, “Buy my book.”
- Because this is where a large group of my target audience meets each year with the purpose of talking about what I write. Yes, having people travel across the country or even across town who want what you have to offer is a good thing. They are there for your genre, not to weed through Facebook and other social media to happen upon a post you made.
- I choose to attend one conference in my genre regularly because I want to get to know that set of attendees and the new attendees each year. Building relationships with readers and others in the business (offline) is a good thing. If you are a new author (new to the reader) they are more willing to give your work a try if they know you. If they already know and like your work, they are more likely to spread the word about your work if they know you personally.
- My opt-in mailing list grows every time I attend a reader event for my genre. The opt-in mailing list is your most powerful tool in your marketing arsenal. Unlike social media where they control when and who gets to see your promos and post, you own your opt-in list. It’s like I say, don’t keep all your eggs in one basket. Especially a basket someone else owns (social media).
- Speaking with others in the publishing business in person, learning from each other. Getting leads. Giving pitches. Taking workshops… As an author, you should invest in your business. This means networking, learning the craft and the business. Conferences and reader events are great places to do all of these.
So do I get a good return on investment by attending this yearly conference? Yes I do. I get an outstanding return on investment. Not from the books I sell at the conference, which will be minimal, but from the connections I’ve made. Because of those connections, when I have new releases, I have a pretty sizable base that purchases my books and spreads the word about them. This base took years to cultivate and is ever growing. Many of my readers promote my titles not only because they like the book, but because they’ve gotten to know me as more than that chick on Facebook who starts to pop in a few weeks before she has a new release.
Now get out there and find a conference that focuses on your genre. You want readers who are there for what you have to offer! Can’t afford to travel, use the good ol’ Internet and find something local.
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