Setting Self Doubt on Fire: Hey! Where’s My Book Reading Audience
Hi All, I’m back with some more self-doubt fighting words.
You may have noticed that I haven’t been around for a while. Well, that’s because my writing group’s World War Two anthology titled From Sunrise to Sunset has finally been published and is now out on sale, which means we’ve been busy promoting our book and starting our book tour. Now, I wish I could say the book tour has been a huge success, but sadly, things haven’t gone exactly to plan. On some of our book readings, we’ve had one problem – no audience. Now, even though our book tour hasn’t gone to plan, we haven’t given up. Instead, we are focusing on the positives, no matter how small: we had three people come to one of our book readings, and we managed to sell a book (yay us!), and we have decided to rethink our book tour, so our future events will have a better turnout.
Having a low turnout or no audience at all does happen to writers, especially the unknown ones. I went to a writing festival in May, and one of the authors (Alex Wheatle) told us that he once had only two women and a dog turn up to one of his book readings. This showed us that perseverance is key because I doubt Alex Wheatle still has this problem.
It can be disappointing to have no one turn up to a book reading, And it also isn’t great for those suffering from crippling self-doubt.
So after having this experience I’ve decided to share some tips on how you can deal with an invisible audience at a book reading event.
- Focus on the positives – you may have only had one person in the audience, but it’s better to have one interested person than several uninterested people. And that one person knows people, so who’s to say they won’t mention your book to someone else.
- Think about your advertising – there are many ways you can promote your book tour. You have Facebook events, websites that list events in your area, posters, your website/blog, leaflets, newspapers, other social media sites, radio, television, and family and friends (word of mouth is still the best way). So, if you haven’t tried all the different types of advertising, then go back to the ones you haven’t tried. And remember to advertise as early as possible. Putting up a poster a week before an event is unlikely going to get you a packed out event.
- Rethink your venues – libraries are good places to do book readings, but what I’ve found out is that having a book reading at a quiet library isn’t a good idea. It’s best to go to a venue that has a readymade audience. That way, you might even catch the attention of people who’ve not heard about you or your book. Also, ask to take part in events. There was a 1940s event that my writing group took part in because our book is based during the war, so it was a perfect fit. You might be able to have a little space where you can set up your books and do a reading.
- Network – the more people who know you, then the more people who will be willing to put the word out about your events. However, remember that if you want people to advertise your events, then you have to be prepared to return the favour. Also, if you know people, they might be able to tell you about events that you can take part in, or recommend you to people. This is where it’s great to be part of a writing group.
- Change the times and days of your book readings – sometimes people would love to come to your book reading, but you’ve chosen a day they can’t come. So, if you have an event on a Saturday afternoon, but no one turns up, then try a different day and different time of day. I have seen many book reading events that take place in the evening.
- Stop being hard on yourself – we all have to start at the bottom. We may love to read our book out to hundreds of people, but realistically, you’ll be lucky to get ten if you’re a new author. So sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you have publicised your book tour you might find that not many people turn up, and that’s okay because one day they will.
It can be disheartening to make a huge effort to organise an event and have no one turn up, but you need to remember that with enough hard work, determination, and perseverance, one day you will have the audience that you desire. So don’t give up.
To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:
“Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis