In this ever-increasing digital age in the wake of a zoom-centered pandemic marketing strategy, you may find yourself questioning why you ever did anything IRL. But here’s the thing. Despite how convenient the video chat rooms seem on the surface – there really is no substitute for in-person interactions. We are still human – and we crave social interaction beyond a screen. So your best bet is to embrace that reality wholeheartedly. Even if you loathe the idea of putting on actual pants and having to look halfway decent again. Do it now, and worry about all the what-ifs later.
This week, I’m sharing the reasons why I’m convinced in-person events are still king over any other alternative method. And there are so many – but for the sake of not overstaying my welcome, I’ve limited myself to just five:
1. You can meet your most passionate fans.
Not only is it pure magic to feel like a celebrity for a day, but this is also crucial. I once met a mother and daughter at RI ComicCon who literally bought tickets to the event to see me again. Seriously – at an event with bona fide actors and guest appearances from all corners of the Marvel superhero geekdom. And yet, this sweet young reader wanted to see me. That one still blows my mind. So don’t miss out on meeting your biggest fans just because you can’t be bothered to get off the couch. I promise – it’s worth it.
2. Photo ops are everywhere!
The photo op is a priceless piece of user-generated content that you can repost. Of course, always ask for permission. But if you meet someone truly noteworthy like the above instance, I’d say it’s a must. Conventions are usually known for hosting all kinds of crazy amazing cosplay characters, so those are always fun to collect. I usually talk about my convention experience alongside a gallery of my favorite costume shout-outs from the weekend. See – everyone wins! For more help with online self-promo, read this recent article HERE.
3. You’re basically guaranteed more sales than you get online at in-person events.
This probably isn’t true for everyone, but it’s definitely true for me. The big thing I learned from my college marketing classes, is that sales happen most when people see your humanity. What better way to do that than to literally appear in front of them? Just be yourself – because readers really connect with that. Don’t be afraid to over share at in-person events (within reason). Find things you have in common, or maybe start with a compliment! Also, readers love signed books – yet another special component that can’t happen as smoothly online. So break out all your dope promotional materials and get out there!
4. Your readers can love you right back!
One very sweet lady didn’t buy a book from me, but appreciated my enthusiasm and work ethic so much. She gifted me a lovely glass-blown blue pen from a nearby vendor. After explaining it’s no big deal, she wanted me to know how inspiring I was — even convincing her I’d make it someday. That interaction really stuck with me, and I cherish that artisan pen. It reminds me that what I do makes a difference to people. In person, these interactions are unparalleled. You can feed off the energy in a room (or outdoor vendor fair, whatever). Get out there, and bask in the love – you deserve it.
5. Lots of networking opportunities suddenly appear at in-person events.
Yes, you can network online. But once again, this is no match for real, in-person chatting. I’ve gotten so many neat opportunities literally just by showing up. These include, but are not limited to: magazine freelancing gigs, cover art designers, and bookstore appearance contacts. These are all things I usually need from time to time in different capacities. And they probably wouldn’t have been as easy to cultivate had I not showed my face at these places. It seems odd to say that it’s really that simple, but I swear it really is! Point in case: leverage your crowds to bring you the opportunities that you’re looking for. If they don’t know how to do something, chances are they can connect you to someone who does.
I don’t know about you, but I’m positively psyched to get back out there at in-person events this summer and beyond. Things are really looking up, and it’s time to power down our laptops for a while. That is, unless you’re drafting – in that case, keep at it. But make time for IRL book signings too.