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  • Writer's pictureEli Allison

How To Throw a Legendary Book Jam. Part 2.

Updated: Nov 23, 2018

So here we go Round Two…ding ding ding.

In Part 1 we covered, What the Hell is a Book Jam, to Venue Ideas, to how to raise funds to pay for the room and last but not least how to put bums on chairs.

So in part 2, we're going to look at creating original content to share on social media, spawning a little event sparkle and Day Zero.

What do you mean original content? Can't I just share the event on Facebook?

Of course, you can... and you should.

But nobody likes the drunk shouty person at the party who only brags about their 2nd hand BMW all night, don’t be that guy.

You need other content to wet the whistle of potential attendees, to get people excited or just simply aware of your event.

Let's strip down one idea into parts. So you get the idea of how to stretch and limber up every part of your event.

Take The Bake Sale Idea

A month before the event.

Start sharing lovely looking bakes, say from Good Food or Pinterest, or wherever to the Facebook event page and your other social media platforms. Ask what people would like you to bring? Ask if peeps are chocolate or coffee? Vanilla or lemon? Ask for advice, for tips.

A couple of weeks before.

Buying in sprinkles? Lightly joke about the price of sprinkles these days.

A week before.

Making tiny icing books, because you're completely crazy and always take everything too far to the determent of your psyche Eli. Post photos of the delirium.

The weekend before.

Do a trial and post about your adventures in butter icing; the idea is to get people talking. The more sad faces, thumbs up, comments you get the more Facebook shares your event.

Day Of.

This is the money shot. Have your posts bursting with energy and fun. Photograph the crap out of your Bakes Sale set up, (see part one for my manic rant about food presentation).

Feed the beast as Vloggers tend to say, and they say quite a lot, since they're trapped in YouTube. I have a theory that they sustain themselves off the souls of felled Vloggers and Likes. But we're sliding off topic...

Tripping Enthusiast & Leisure-Suit Wearer, Mr Z’s top tip

Keep a file or notebook or iron mountain style vault with ninja guards and lasers for all the links you’d like to share. Figure out when the best time is to dump that hot steaming pile of interesting on your platforms and dump away.

So smarty pants, what do I do if I'm not pushing cupcakes?

Okay well here are some general ideas for content.

  • You're performing author's bio's, along with a photo of them looking aloof and intelligent.

  • Bio's of the books being featured.

  • Cute animals that pretend they read.

  • Articles that talk about reading/books/publishing/writers in general.

Follow my little doodle on the how's and share away.

I can't tell you how often to post, such things are unknown, like the event horizon or the 12 herbs and spices on a certain sweaty chicken. Too much you piss people off, too little and your event melts to nothing like the Wicked Witch of the West at a bathhouse. Find your sweet spot and work it baby.

So what next?

Event space

Hopefully, you're familiar with the space you have to work with, if not make time to visit. Do a light sketch of how you'd like everything slotted together. Ask these questions;

  1. Where is the 'stage?' and is there a place to hang any signage.

  2. Seating? Rows of chairs, or chairs and tables? Rows of chairs, feels more formal. You will get some issues with where to put your drinks and coats and bags but it does encourage more mingling after. Table and chairs feel more hip and relaxed but can create distractions during the readings as people fight their way around the space.

  3. Mike or no mike?

  4. Best place to put the Book Table?

You’ll need at least one table to set up the books. It can seem smart to put the book table by the front door. Everyone will see it right? No. As people stop to look and hopefully buy your hard-written novels, it creates a bottleneck of 'excuse me' and shoved backs. People who liked to browse will be bulldozed out of the way by the nicotine posse. You won't create a wonderful mini bookshop; you'll just create an angry mob. Place it somewhere a bit more out of the way and drive people to it.

Go on then you smug so and so, how do I set the books up?

So I have a Pinterest board for such things, but if you can't be arsed to hit the link, and in this age of go-getting laziness who the hell can? Then I can't help you.

Make sure you have someone manning the Book Table, to take money, put things in bags, wrestle to the ground anyone who hasn't bought a book. If you're fistfuls of cash only, let everyone know, before they arrive.

Anything else?

Lights, Camera, action, darlin' or in others words, Stage Decor.

Now it’s not a birthday party, but try to make a sign which you can hang behind where the authors will be standing.

It’ll be photogenic, make the stage feel more than just a spot on the floor and add a level of 'officialness' to your proceedings.

I made mine out of fabric because I have a sewing machine and a mental condition which means I have to make everything really hard for myself.

But you could paint some cardboard, fashion something out of pipe cleaners, have a small child with fake fairy wings hanging from a wire with a chalk board.

Think outside the box.

I once saw an event where the organisers had taken a bed-sheet and got a graffiti artist to spray paint on it, looked wicked.

Are we getting close you raving second-rate Martha?

Yes I promise.

The Event Line up.

Give everyone reading clear guidelines on how much time they have. Be firm; no one likes a rambler.

Decide if one of the authors, yourself or someone different is going to be compere. You need someone to introduce your authors, let everyone know what’s going on. They can also push the sales of books, which most writers I know are super shit at. Shy little mice.

Fix your speaking order with the most nervous front and centre. Have an in-between break speaking that’s at least 30 minutes. So people can get drinks, mingle, buy books.

Don’t be afraid to ask people to move closer to the stage area as they arrive. It helps if you have latecomers. Nobody likes doing a reading while the gates of Troy are being breached.

Just remember if you're a nervous reader don't read from a printed out piece of paper. Transfer it to a notebook or folder or just read from your book. My first Book Jam, I was reading from a piece of paper all I could see was the sheet shaking horribly, it threw me. I looked like a rabbit caught in heads lights mumbling Science Fiction madness. Not fun for anyone.

And that leads us to Day Zero.

Oh thank God!

Welcome to hell ladies, just kicking, but only slightly, because good events mean hard work.

Something will go wrong.

People won't turn up, or will be late, or will arrive drunk, or not drunk enough. The room will have been double booked, stink of old man wee or simply just be a nuclear hell-scape where the strongest now feasts on man flesh.

Either way, steel yourself for the public.

Not only is your job to set up, run things, clean down after but you also have to;

Introduce all the authors to each other.

Explain to Gerry from work that's it's not a comedy show and Michael McIntyre is not compere.

Adapt your line-up if your readers are running late or just don't turn up.

Greet people and make sure no one is standing alone. (Especially if you invited them.)

Tell Gerry again that's it's not okay to heckle writers.

Take photos.

Be a social media butterfly.

Remove Gerry.

Flay yourself with a butter knife.

All while being sober.

You can have a drink, but don't get drunk. That's for later.

If this all sounds a bit you're going to go, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” with good old axey. Take a breath.

Events are tricky squirmy little buggers but they only have to be as extravagant as you desire. Want to keep it simple by inviting a few close friends round to your house for an evening of Doritos and books, do that.

This guide is the as the title suggests the Legendary package, the pimped out, jazz hands glitter bomb in your face version of a Book Jam.

The idea is to put writers with readers, and as long as you do that on whatever scale, you've won.

Not in life that's whoever did wrote this, but you still did good.

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