How to Set Up Author Events



1) Create a marketing plan for you book that explains your target audience and lists places you can have events that will reach those people.

I suggest using Jennifer Fusco’s Market or Die series. Read all three of the ebooks. Especially the Market or Die: Integrated Marketing Plan Advice for Writers.

2) Once you have a list of venues and associations to target, reach out to them.

I prefer email, but some places you have to call. Make sure you have something prepared to say–a pitch if you will.

Have a press release ready to send them.

Focus on your strengths and explain how they will benefit from the event. Offer a free workshop with Powerpoint or an intimate author talk and reading.

For workshops, I wrote up a paragraph description of 8 different workshops I would create based on demand. Have that ready to give to venues.

You should reach out months in advance. Some conventions/conferences/book festivals require you to reach out a year ahead of time. And there may be forms to fill out. So make sure you start reaching out at least 6 months before your launch date.

3) Keep track of every interaction in an Excel spreadsheet.

That way it’s easier to follow up. I’ve reached out to 200+ venues and organizations in the last year. Impossible to keep track of everything unless I log it in. I also log when I need to follow up or when they are waiting on something from me. It keeps me on track.

4) There will be lots of follow up via email–working out all the details of dates, times, topics of workshops, setting up, technology, and how you both will promote the event.

Be prepared for 10-20 hours of planning and interaction. Try to create a question list ahead of time and hit them with it once. Can you bring refreshments? Can you sell books? Do they charge for the space? Is there a laptop and projector available, etc.

4) Make sure to compile a contact list of possible attendees.

I built mine from my personal contacts, my FB contacts, and people who signed up for updates at previous events and on my website.

5) Promote the event on FB, Goodreads, your blog, and email your contact list as appropriate.

If you have time to write personal emails, do so–they get the highest response.

6) Sometimes you get lucky and venues reach out to you because they see/hear you are doing events.

If anyone asks you to do an event, do it! These are much easier to do than cold calling venues. You don’t have to convince them of anything, they are already on board.

7) If you are selling books at the event, check the state’s rules on sales tax collection.ย 

Sometimes you have to sign up ahead of time for a permit to collect sales tax at the city, county, and/or state level. Other states allow one time sales without a permit as long as you collect and send them payment in 20 days.

8) Be gracious and thankful to the venue for sharing their space and making the event possible.

Be on time, be professional, and be helpful.



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30 Responses to How to Set Up Author Events

  1. Really useful tips Kourtney, you’re paving the way and preparing some of us in advance for the time when we may be able to use this advice!

  2. Since you’ve been so active in promoting and personal appearances, I’d wondered how you got into so many different things. I had a feeling cold calling was a part of it. Gives me the willies just thinking about it, but I guess if you’re serious about reaching readers, you gotta do what you gotta do. Thanks for sharing. Fascinating post!

    • Promoting is a lot of work. Tons of rejection too. Some venues drop off the face of the planet after a few emails. But you just keep chugging along. Cold calling and emailing is very hard. The calling more so than the emailing though. I can write a great email. ๐Ÿ˜‰ There’s so many hats authors have to wear now. But the cool thing is when you cultivate a relationship you can keep building on it with each book. ๐Ÿ™‚

      • You’re an inspiration on the rejection front, Kourtney. I honestly don’t know if I have it in me, to keep on chugging as you do.

        • Thanks Gwen. There are times it gets to me. I have a blog post about self doubt coming up this month. It’s something I still struggle with. There are days I really question my purpose and the point of what I’m doing. Then I pull back from promoting and go back to what I love–writing. Reading your beta notes today–thank you so much for all your hard work. Got through the overview and diving into the individual comments this afternoon. ๐Ÿ™‚

          • I’m so glad to hear even you face self doubt. It’s a big risk you took with pursuing a full time writing career so everything’s riding on it.

            Hopefully something in my beta notes will be of use to you in your revisions. Remember I’m open to any discussion you need.

          • Aw Gwen, every step of the way I struggle with it. From submitting to agents and editors, to trying to get events, to selling books. I’ve never had so much rejection in life. Sometimes I bounce and sometimes I splat for a few days or weeks and it takes a lot to come back again. Once in a great while, I do believe I made the wrong decision. Venting to friends, reading a great book or working on my writing remind me of why I put up with the crap that comes with this choice. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I just finished reading your notes. They are AWESOME! I’m going to roll them around in my head a day or so and then follow up–1 only had one that I was unclear on actually–I love how you touched on everything and covered the good, the so-so and the bad. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. When do you find time to write, girl? ๐Ÿ™‚ This is a terrific summary of what’s involved in promoting your work. It sounds as though you must be detail oriented and great with follow-up. Very impressive, Kourtney!

    • Jill, it’s a constant struggle. Even doing this full time, I scramble. Promoting was #1 for most of last year, but it’s #2 now. I pick a day or two to really push the promoting stuff or an hour or two each day depending on what needs to get done. Just spent 1.5 hours reading beta feedback on the new manuscript. Focusing on getting through that today. LOL. I was in management consulting and audit for a dozen years–I’m a hyper organized control freak. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. Pete Denton says:

    Great post. I still don’t think people realise the amount of work and effort you have to go through when promoting a book. Like Gwen it does all seem daunting, but necessary. Thanks for sharing the insights ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Yeah, especially the person who came up to me at the last event and told me how he “works for a living”. It’s people like that that make author events miserable. There’s a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work with promoting. It is daunting–everything is when you start learning more about it. I thought doing an audiobook would be easy until I started trying to get auditions and reviewing contracts–it’s all a lot of work. But it is worth it in the end. Most days anyways. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. Carrie Rubin says:

    Great tips, as always. I’ll have to bookmark this page. I’ve told myself that after I get a first draft done of my current WIP, I might start putting more effort into face-to-face marketing of my published novel. That way I’ll have my finished, unpublished novel and another one near finished so that I don’t have to worry about taking too much time away from my writing. I think I’m at the stage where I need to put my focus on generating more ‘product.’

    • Thanks Carrie! The plus side since you have a publisher is you can get into bookstores much easier. It’s scary and intimidating at first. But if you have a spiel prepared and the documents they might request–you’ll be fabulous! I understand about product. I have the one book in negotiations with Harlequin and then this new one to send to the agent when it’s revised. You are smart to take time for writing. Promotion is something that has to be done but second to writing. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Sheila says:

    Lots of great advice! You must be exhausted after doing all that. I can see how writing would feel like a vacation whenever you’re able to get away from it all.

    • Thanks Sheila. I do feel a bit frayed at times. Especially when I put so much energy into lining up events and they don’t happen. Or they do and people are really rude. I’m considering less events for a while. Writing is what I love. I like promoting and the business side of things, but it’s not where I’d choose to spend the bulk of my time. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. jmmcdowell says:

    It is so gracious of you to share all your experiences on the road to publicationโ€”and beyond! When the day comes that I’m nearing publication, you can bet I’ll be poring over your archives for pointers on everything. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • I really wanted this blog to capture it all. I wasn’t sure anyone would want to hear the nitty gritty stuff, but happy to share if it helps. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aw thank you! And you know you can always email or call me and pick my brain when that day comes. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Arlene says:

    Kourtney, this is excellent advice. Thanks for sharing your experiences! I hope your event at the Atheneum went well. I’m sorry I missed it! I really wanted to be there.

    • Thanks Arlene! Happy to pass along anything I’ve learned. ๐Ÿ™‚ Aw, thank you–I’m so sorry you had to be at a funeral. I’m looking forward to Wed event at the Naugatuck Public Library. ๐Ÿ™‚

  9. Aquileana says:

    Hi Koutney…

    Thatยดs interesting that you have mentioned the several steps and so on… Great way to promote your writing too.
    It is good to know you can handle, as not so sure every writer can (I mean you got to be open, strong and extrovert in order to pursuit firstly it and to achieve it later).

    Have a groovy day KH ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hi–

      Thanks. A couple of blog buds asked me to shed some light on the process. It’s helpful if you want to know how to do it or if you wonder what authors have to do to make events happen. ๐Ÿ™‚ It’s a ton of work. I’m not naturally an extrovert, but I promised myself I would step outside my comfort zone for the book. ๐Ÿ™‚ And even then there are events that make me wonder why I’m doing this. Sometimes people are awful. And it gets to you. But I have great friends and blog buds who remind me that it is all worth it for the books.

  10. 4amWriter says:

    My husband would applaud you for using an Excel spreadsheet. I’m still a paper and pen girl when it comes to keeping track of information, but I told myself this year I’ll start learning more efficient methods!

    • LOL. They really are great for tracking stuff. Access databases are event better but more time consuming to build. I like it because I can sort stuff by all the columns and examine things from different perspectives. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. You are so organized! I love it. Great tips. ๐Ÿ™‚

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