Places to meet readers
Even though the act of writing is often fraught with anguish and adversity, most writers struggle more to sell their books. Writing is a solitary pursuit – marketing is not. How do you find more readers for your book without “selling” it? Get out of the house and get involved. Even if you haven’t published a book yet, now is the time to build your tribe of readers. Here are 19 awesome places to meet readers for your book, even if you’re an introvert.
Especially if you’ve written a book that deals with a business topic like marketing, leadership, or human resources management, get in front of the people who benefit the most. Share it at a networking event, display it at a referral group meeting, or give it away as a door prize. Even if your book is not business related, readers lurk in lots of places.
While I don’t advocate going to church for the book sales, if you are inclined to go for other reasons, attending regularly is an excellent way to build a community of readers who may be interested in supporting you as an author. As a bonus, sitting quietly may give you space in your head to be more open and creative as a writer.
Remember all the fun you had in high school and college? Now is the time to reconnect with fellow alums. Regularly attend events to go beyond superficial “how’s your family” discussions.
Do I hear groans? For many of us, going to the gym is the activity we like as much as listening to the neighbor’s dog bark all night long. But, if you lace up your sneakers and get out the door, you’ll find an opportunity to meet readers while you grind it out on the elliptical machine. Leave the headphones at home and talk with the people next to you. It may help the time go faster while you get brain-boosting oxygen to your brain.
Instead of stretching in front of a YouTube video, go to a yoga studio or join another type of fitness class. Linger after class to meet your fitness brethren. Go out for a green smoothie or a walnut sticky bun with your classmates. Go ahead. I’m not judging!
Meet your neighbors! Whether you join your civic association or just walk out the door and say hi to your neighbors while weeding the garden, this may be the easiest way to connect with more people and potentially more readers.
Got kids? Get involved in the PTA, the sports boosters, or scout troop. Arrive early for meetings or invite parents out for pizza afterward.
Instead of eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich hunched over your computer, invite co-workers to brown-bag it together. Offer to do a quick talk during a mid-morning or afternoon break. Can you tie in the book topic or writing experience to what you do?
I’m a coffee shop regular. Every morning, I pack up my computer and head off to “work.” I’m sipping hot coffee when weekday church lets out down the street, the ladies’ group meets, and the mayor, students, and fellow writers do their thing. We chat during trips to the coffee urns and catch up on the weather, traffic, and what I’m currently writing. Besides, there are no dishes, laundry, or dust bunnies under the sofa take me off task.
You’ll meet people at your book signings, but you’ll also meet readers where other authors sign their books. Look out for events at your local library or bookstore and strike up a conversation while waiting in line or gathering before the talk begins.
If you want readers to notice you, teach a workshop. Tout your expertise about a subject, about writing, or about your journey. Gather attendees’ emails to follow up after the class and sell your book at the end.
Whether you get paid for speaking or offer it for free, share what you know and get your face in front of potential readers. Speaking allows you to put a face to a name all while the organizers advertise your talk. Rotary clubs, libraries, and book clubs look for speakers to fill their calendars.
Trade Shows/Book Fairs/Community Events
If you’ve got some cash to spare, get a booth at a trade show or book fair. Set up an engaging display and practice your 11-second pitch. Stand in front of your table whenever possible to engage with passersby. Capture their email with a giveaway or contest and then follow up!
Writers are almost always the biggest readers. Go to writing conferences and suck up all the knowledge you can while networking with fellow writers. It’s one of the best places to meet readers.
If you’re an art lover, go to gallery openings, artist receptions, and take art classes. Watch how your creativity bends with the intake of different art forms and how the inclusion of artists into your circle opens your mind to new things and new readers.
Open Mic Nights
Whether you read your work or bathe in the words of others, find fellow travelers on the writing path. You’ll meet writers who need your encouragement and those who will inspire you to push beyond what you thought possible.
Critique groups are most literally your readers. They’ll give you feedback on current works-in-progress at the same time you read their literary treasures. You’ll gain insight on what to do and what not to do in your writing. Because of the intimate nature of sharing your work over and over, you create bonds of trust with those in your group. It’s a recipe for building your first reviewers and advocates for your writing.
Look on Facebook, MeetUp, or Eventbrite for local writer gatherings. You’ll find more than readers there. You’ll find the support and inspiration to spur you on even during the times you wonder why you torture yourself on this writing path.
Women’s groups, woodcarving groups, ukulele jams, AA meetings, singles meetups, trail clubs, and anywhere people gather are other great places to meet potential readers.
This list of places to meet readers is not exhaustive. Find your groups and mingle. You don’t need to “sell” your book everywhere you go. Ask questions and be helpful. If you are genuinely interested in people, they will return the favor. Of course, you’ll carry a book or two wherever you go and keep a box of books in your car for the inevitable book sale. Look at this adventure as a chance to enrich your life and the lives of people around you. While you’re at it, keep a notebook close by. You may just spot the perfect character for your next book.
If you have any thoughts or experiences about places to meet readers, I’d love to hear them!