Sunday, May 15, 2016

Author Events

To paraphrase Forrest Gump, you never know what you’re going to get. This is the lesson I have learned in doing author events, such as book signings or readings. And each event is valuable in its own way, regardless of the number of books distributed.
Book table
            My fantasy novel, The Yoga Zapper, is based on the authentic mythological narratives common with Hinduism and Buddhism, as relating to the origins, transmission, diminution and rebirth of the teachings of yoga. As such, I identified several audiences for the book: readers of fantasy, yoga practitioners and ethnic East Indians.
            Keeping this in mind, I have spent my efforts to reach these audiences in attending author events. An obvious venue is the yoga studio, where I have found very receptive audiences. Many yoga studios have community events, usually annually, where members of their studios as well as the general public are invited for get-togethers. In Calgary, I have done three yoga studios, and at each one I have found eager audiences. Yoga students and teachers were intrigued by my concept, and several remarked that my book opened up an aspect of yoga that they were unfamiliar with.
            I also attended a couple of ethnic events, and received a very good response from one and a poor one from another, which I attribute to its not being set up properly to meet authors. It is important for an opportunity and space to speak with and personally connect to guests exists. It is crucial to have a pitch, of not more than a couple of minutes, which should inform, intrigue and finally, convince the guest to buy the book.
At Yoga event with customer
            I have also done a couple of bookstores, again with mixed results. The key, in my experience, is the support one receives from the bookstore. If the bookstore takes interest, such as sending notice of the event to its mailing list, or putting up posters, one can expect a decent turnout.
            Sometimes, unexpected benefits arise: many yoga studios have a bookshelf where they sell books related to yoga. I have had success selling books to studios for their stores, and also had bookstores order the novel for their shelves. From ethnic events attended, contacts with other organizations arose, leading to further invitations.

            Regardless of the number of books sold (my range has been from none to seventeen per event,) I believe it is important for authors to present their work at events. Social media marketing is a must for writers, but speaking face to face with readers is an invaluable opportunity to learn what readers are looking for, to spot new areas of interest, and finally, to get away from the computer and speak to real live persons!

Mohan Ashtakala is the author of The Yoga Zapper, published by Books We Love, Ltd. He lives in Calgary, Canada.