We hear exchanges like this often:
SB: "How did the speaking/signing event go?"
AUTHOR: "Horrible. There were only 15 people, there and I sold four books!"
Authors tend to count immediate book sales. That is understandable. It is also short-sighted and often dispiriting.
Take that exchange above and plug in any number of people in attendance, and ZERO for book sales, and the event (if you have a publisher who understands marketing) was a success. Why?
Because the event itself (like most single battles of any long war, for example) are irrelevant to the long-term outcome. The goal is sell books, and brand the author.
HE + RA = S. (Stay with me here.)
A speaking engagement, battlefield tour, book signing, etc. is but the pebble you throw into a pond. I don't care about the pebble. I care about the ripple.
The ripple is the "volume" of movement you can create by tossing the pebble into the water. Think of how much more ground a ripple covers compared to the small stone itself.
In our case, it is the newspaper article, media interview, blog post, Facebook post, tweet, etc. that only came about because there was a hard event to announce/promote.
You can only tell folks so many times, "Hey! Here is a new book on X!" before people stop paying attention.
But each book event is in itself newsworthy. Each post, tweet, article, etc. tied to a book, its event, and its author creates something I call "repetitive awareness." (I have no idea if that is already a phrase, but I just thought it up and I like it.)
And you know what I mean. Have you ever bought a book? Or a refrigerator? Or a car? Have you ever paid attention to your purchasing habits? Most of us see an ad and skip over. We see it again, and do not act. We see it a third time, and find ourselves in a position (mentally, financially, emotionally) to want to act, and then we do. Why? We have been reminded. Over and over. And we take action.
The action can be attending the author event itself, OR buying the book online, from a store, or from us, and/or referring it to a friend. And what do you do when you get a new book? You tell others in a wide variety of ways, right?
HE (hard events) + RA (repetitive awareness) = Success (book sales, branding of author).
It not just the bodies that show up an an event--it is who learns of the event.
From now on, when your publicist or publishing company wants to book you for an event, realize it does not matter whether you get 5 people or 50, sell zero books or 25.
It's all about the . . . .ripple.