Planning all of the events for the Untangling the Knot book launch and promotion was one of the most hectic and stressful things I’ve ever had to do, but also one of the most rewarding. When I wasn’t juggling email chains, trying to remember when I’d last been in touch with a venue, or reaching out to authors, contributors, event staff and others with emails and phone calls, I sat back and watched the events I’d planned unfold.
The thing about event planning is that your mother and father taught you how to do it once you took an interest in having your birthday parties done your way. You start early, decide who’s worth contacting (come on, who’s going to give you the best return of good presents on your resources of cake and ice cream?), and write that invitation!
It’s just a liiiiiittle bit different when you’re trying to plan a book’s kick-off event. Here are a few key tips to start with.
Get in contact with venues early.
Ask about their schedule months in advance if they’ll let you, and then poll your authors to see when their schedules align. Bother them every few days about responding to that poll. You can’t have an event without them, so it’s really important that the day you decide on works for them!
Have a cutoff date for your scheduling polls.
Give your authors about two weeks to respond. If they haven’t responded by then, they’re not going to. Make decisions based on the results you’ve collected by then.
PROMOTE YOUR EVENTS.
No one will show up if they have no way of knowing your event is happening! Promote it on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram (pictures of flyers are a great way to show off hard work and get the word out), SnapChat, anything! Get your event up on community calendars, venue calendars, and relevant organizations’ calendars. Don’t neglect tried-and-true methods like flyers, tabling, and word of mouth either.
Be a person.
This means when you’re courting venues to host your event, donate food or beverages, or sponsor you in some other way, do a walk-in. If you can’t manage a walk-in, call them. Do not email them unless you absolutely have no other choice.
This one has never been hard for me since I’m extroverted, talkative, and pretty good at reading people. However, if those things don’t fall into your skill set, a smile, firm handshake, and pleasantly consistent eye contact can go a long way. You can take it a step further by matching the body language and speech patterns of people you talk to, and if you feel up to it, a well-placed attempt at humor has never gone awry in my experience.
Send thank-you notes.
Most marketing and promotion is facilitated by who you know. If you’ve made a connection with someone at an organization, it never hurts to keep that relationship open so you can continue to do business together. I prefer to handwrite my thank-you notes, but emails are acceptable as well. The important part is to make sure your new contacts know how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you!
Event planning can’t be distilled to any sort of easy checklist, and nothing will ever go just as you’ve planned it to—you remember the time your cat licked all the icing off one side of your birthday cake—but these tips should be able to help you remember to cover your metaphorical cake before your sugar-obsessed diabetic cat can even get a whiff of it. Happy event planning, everyone!