Amplification Station | Becky Fincham, Director of BigMouth Book Events, Festivals, Tours and PR, joins the Bookseller Marketing and Publicity conference to discuss getting the most out of your book events. She begins by talking about her parents: her father is obsessed with Thomas Hardy – he represents our engaged literary community. Her mother, on the other hand, is a voracious reader – the kind to pick an author and read all their books – but will not come to events.
The question is why?
People aren’t always comfortable with book events because they’re not sure what they’re about, or what’s expected of them. So, how do you get people who happily go to the theatre and to gigs to also come to your book events?
You put the audience first.
There is a standard format: 45 minutes chat, 15 minutes for a Q&A, perhaps a reading. Thom Yorke, for example, you’d rather go see play music than talk – take from this idea. Put the book at the centre, have readings and discourse around it. She recalls a famous event in which the chair asked if the audience had any questions and someone said, “No questions, we want more poems!”
Set the scene: audio impacts emotion, lighting mood and visuals add stimulation. There’s a collective experience of an audience in that room, so try to mirror the connection that they feel when they read the book. Give them the same feeling to connect to your event.
How do you draw in a bigger pool of readers? Try think broadly on venues – find unique places that will both put the book in context but make the book stand out. For David Peace’s Red or Dead, they sought to include football fans by programming two Liverpool fan musicians, and hosting it in a pub. They tied the book and its context into the event.
Start putting on events yourself: see it as a way of putting your brand out there. Penguin and Faber have their own events – it puts your brand centre stage and lets people know who you are and what you stand for. You set the agenda.