I have a writer friend who chooses all of her appearances, conferences, and events by how many books she thinks she'll sell. She calculates her transportation costs and expenses, and then makes her decision on whether or not to attend. I admire her attention to detail - down to her mileage spreadsheets.
Writing/publishing is a business, and authors need to treat their time, resources, and expenses in those terms, but a strict return on investment (ROI) may overlook some tangential or long-term benefits. I've done some smaller events or events where we didn't sell that many books, but I did gainother benefits and opportunities. Here are some examples:
At a small, independent book store, I met two women who later invited me to be on a panel at their group's writing conference.
At a school-sponsored book fair, I met several folks who had an interest in mysteries and joined our local chapter of Sisters in Crime. Both are active members now in our organization.
At an outdoor festival, we met a local DJ who asked us to do interviews for his radio station.
I also collect email addresses and contacts at every event. This expands my audience for newsletters and announcements.
I love to talk to school groups and colleges. These don't usually lead to direct sales, but every kid gets a bookmark. It's important to encourage others, especially young talent. And as a student, I had authors who took the time to visit my schools.
I try a lot of events. I like opportunities to network and talk about my book. I am very fortunate that I'm part of several writing groups and anthology groups. We're often asked to provide panels, workshops, and authors for special events. And we partner at events and book signings. There is nothing worse than sitting in a book store all by yourself.
My guidelines for choosing events are:
- I don't have to do every event that comes along.
- I should enjoy the events I choose to attend. If I don't, I can skip it next year.
- Do I have the availability? I need to make sure that I have time to write the next book. My free time is limited, and I can't be on the road every weekend.
What advice to you have for choosing book marketing events?