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How to get more event bookings as an author or illustrator

Whether through talks, workshops, readings, or performances – live literature events are an important and inspiring way for authors and illustrators to connect with readers.

Live events have a wide range of benefits for authors and illustrators, including attracting new readership, building industry relationships, and providing supplementary income

As award-winning children’s author Kirsty Murray says:

“Author/illustrator events are an important pillar of reader engagement. Whether the event is for young readers or adults, live author events break down the barriers between creators and their audience.”

So how can authors and illustrators interested in live events increase these opportunities?

 

Have an effective author website (with specific info about events!)

Having an easily accessible website with up-to-date, relevant information about events is one the best things authors and illustrators can do to attract event bookings.

When looking to book an author or illustrator, event hosts are looking to be able to easily and quickly access basic information such as author bio, headshots, book summaries and social media handles, but also specific information with regards to events including:

  • What local area are you based in for events? And are you open to travel?
  • What age groups or audiences can your cater to? 
  • What kind of events or workshops can you run? 
  • Do you have a video of past events or a showreel for reference?
  • Do you have a set appearance fee rate?

As children’s author, Nat Amoore says:

“Putting some video online can really help, even if it’s just on your website. It gives potential clients a chance to see what you are like in person and give them a feel for your presenting style.”

Authors and illustrators should also make it clear how event organisers should get in contact – whether through direct email, or via their publisher, agent or speaker’s agency. 

 

Think local

Fostering strong, local relationships with event organisers is another effective way for authors and illustrators to attract more event bookings.

Events where an author is known – and can bring along their networks – are more likely to be successful. This is particularly the case for debut authors, who are still building their profiles.

As crime writer Dinuka McKenzie says:

“Get to know your local bookstores and local libraries. Often library events and book launches are booked months in advance. If you know your local booksellers and library staff well, you can pitch to have an event at these venues before they are booked out.”

Recent research from the University of Melbourne found that more than 77% of Australian booksellers surveyed reported that being directly approached by the author/illustrator influenced decision-making when arranging author events. 

Authors and illustrators inside their publicity period, or signed through a speakers’ agency, should work with their publicist or agent in making any approaches.

 

Get friendly with your fellow authors and illustrators

Embedding yourself in the local writing and illustrating community is another great way to increase event opportunities – for everyone!

Being a part of this community allows authors and illustrators to share event opportunities, connections, and networks with one another. This might come in the form of putting forward authors for panels and emcee opportunities, or recommending fellow authors and illustrators in the case of unavailability for an event approach. 

Among the kinds of network-building activities authors and illustrators can do, author Kirsty Murray suggests:

“Leverage social media and professional networks to build connections. Attend professional development events. Join the Australian Society of Authors and your state’s writers’ centre. Get to know all your local bookshops. Attend book launches. Buy books.”

 

Consider a speaker’s agent

A speaker’s agent can be a useful way for authors and illustrators to secure more event and speaking engagements.

For children’s authors in particular, research showed that speaker’s agents are the most common method utilised by schools in seeking author talent for events. Bookstores and libraries, however, reported most commonly reaching out to authors directly, or through their publishers. 

Author Gabrielle Wang says her events in primary schools are usually arranged through a speaker’s or booking agent:

“Sometimes the booking agent contacts schools through newsletters, letting them know when a presenter is available. At other times, a teacher or teacher librarian will contact the booking agency directly and request a particular speaker. If I’m travelling interstate, I will contact a booking agent to let them know so they can reach out to local schools.”

Authors and illustrators looking to secure a speaker’s agent should be aware that speaker’s agents take a commission of event booking income.

 

Keep at it

For authors and illustrators – and particularly those starting out in their careers –  securing successful and ongoing events work may not happen overnight. 

As author Kirsty Murray says:

“It’s hard to secure work on the back of a single book, unless that book is a runaway bestseller. Play the long game and focus on what you love about your writing.” 

She also tells authors not to be disheartened by small turnouts at events.

“Take every event seriously and do your best to make it an inspiring experience for whoever attends…Every event has the potential to lead to another event that may be the one that transforms your career.”

 

Sign up to Australia Reads author database

The Australia Reads Author Directory is open to authors and illustrators published in Australia and interested in live literature event bookings. This database is an easily searchable and filterable resource for event organisers looking to book talent in their local areas.

Read our Terms and Conditions here, and email hello@australiareads.org.au if you’d like to be added.

 

Want to find out more? Explore the full findings of the Live Literature in Australia report.

Header photo credit: Nat Amoore