Yes, public speaking isn't for everyone, but as an author, you cannot let an opportunity pass to market your books. So what do you do now?
Book Festivals are not only about speakers, but there also has to be listeners too. Here are 6 tips to help with marketing your books at a book festival:
Be an active participant. Attend a discussion session or workshop about a topic or two that interests you. Take an active role in the discussion. Be sure to introduce yourself (Hi, I'm Linzé, I am a fantasy romance author, and I have a question about...) when you engage the speaker or another attendee in a discussion.
Be nice, just because. It takes nothing from you to be courteous to people. You don't have to like everyone, but you are talking to your market. Readers and book lovers like to engage with authors. Personally, I dislike being photographed, but I have learned that it won't kill me to be in front of a camera. If a reader asks to be photographed with me, I offer a genuine smile because someone will only go to that trouble if they want to be seen with me.
Dress well; your image says a lot. My daily life is spent in mostly casual clothing and I have been known to write in my pajamas, but it won't do when facing my readers. There is no need to dress up in heels and hose (unless you really want to) but taking care of your appearance also shows respect for your readers. It conveys a message of professionalism. You cannot expect your market to take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.
What does your brand say about you? For the authorpreneur, branding is an all-encompassing approach to your business as a published author. You spend time and money on the image portrayed by your book covers to showcase your product to the world. When you engage your readers and fans, be aware of the image, and brand, you want to them to associate with you as a person. If people make you nervous, make a point to learn to engage with people one on one. They will appreciate the attention and leave with a good impression and maybe a few of your books.
What to say, what not to say. It is a book festival, so people want to talk about their passion: books. If someone wants to talk about your books, you smile and chat and answer questions and autograph books for them. You do find people who want to talk about other people's books. If you are a fan of the same author, you will have common ground, but be careful not to spend too much time chatting when you have people waiting who want to talk to you about your books.
You could also face the situation of genre bashers. This happens when erotica writers are confronted with people who want to rip them apart for daring to write sex scenes in a book. If erotica is your genre, keep a cool head and suggest that they support other authors at the festival instead. If they bad-mouth another author for whatever reason, don't get into an argument and never agree with them. Rather suggest that not every book is to everyone's taste and that there are many other authors whose books they could read.
Avoid bad mouthing other authors because it reflects poorly on you. You might have an audience of fans of the other author and making them angry will not help your case.
Offer something in return. People like free stuff. This is a marketing opportunity where you can also give things away to gain more sales.
Think about the ads on television. Buy two tires from us and we will give you a movie ticket. Buy four and get two tickets. Car tires are expensive, so you will only replace them when safety becomes a concern. So why not treat yourself and drive your now safer car to the movie theater for a night out?
Book people, love book related things. Coffee mugs, bookmarks, shopping bags, gift cards for other books, etc. Or offer something where they can enjoy reading (or writing) at the same time - a foot massage voucher, pedicure, or a voucher for free coffee at a local coffee shop.
This is a basic list to help you get started, and there are more ideas that you can explore to market your books at a book festival.
Want to learn more about marketing your books? Take a look here.