In my last two posts, I discussed what you could buy or bring for your author booth to make your event experiences more successful.
The list ranges from simple and inexpensive items to more long-term investments that can be accumulated over time.
However, these items are worthless if you don’t do a few things while you are at the event itself. The good news is, these next few tips are free and easy to do with a little practice!
- Be Professional: You don’t have to be in a suit and tie or wearing heels but you should treat this as your business and dress appropriately. Don’t look like a schlump who has rolled out of bed. Yes, this is an industry that attracts creative types, but presenting yourself as someone who takes their craft seriously will never be out of style.
- Be Present: Take photos of your booth early, post what you need to on social media, then set the phone down. How are people going to be interested in your booth if you seem bored with it?
- Be Engaged: Stand up! I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen vendors sitting in their chair within the shadow of their tent watching potential customers sail right by. They’ll even stay seated when someone walks up to their table. Unless you’re wheelchair bound or have some physical ailment that prevents you from getting out of your chair STAND UP! At the very least, smile and say hello. Look accessible and people will be more likely to come over and see what your book is about.
- Be Friendly: Greet everybody! Look, I get it. I write romantic suspense and have a pretty well-defined target audience. Chances are, the two middle-aged men walking by my table aren’t in it, but I still smile and say hello. You never know what will happen. I could be wrong and they do read romance. Or, they have a spouse that reads romance and next thing you know, they’re buying a copy for their wife. Every interaction has potential and it all starts with a simple hello.
- Be Interested: Have a couple of conversation starters in mind. It can be generic and simple, referencing the weather or the event that you’re both attending. It could also be a soft pitch for your book. Typically I will use something like, “Do you like reading romantic suspense?” If they answer “no,” have a follow-up ready such as “What genres do you like to read?” Another good opener is, “Do you prefer paperbacks or kindle?” It doesn’t have to be rocket science! A simple, easy to answer question will do. Most people are open to giving their opinion about a topic.
- Be Prepared: Have an elevator pitch ready. If someone comes up to your table and asks, “What is your book about?” you should have a few sentences that can sum up your book and the series. Read your audience. This isn’t just a spiel that you should jump into the moment someone comes up to your table. The point is not to accost potential customers. I typically start with, “These are the first two books of my romantic suspense series, The Harper Sisters. It’s set up in Bath, Maine.” If they are nodding and engaged, then I know I can continue on to describing my first book. If they say, “Oh, romantic suspense…I don’t typically read romance.” Then I can follow up by asking what they do like to read. If they say, “Oh! Bath, Maine, I’ve been there!” Then I’ll continue the conversation talking about the setting and reference scenes that incorporate the area. It all depends.
- Be Generous: Not every person who comes up to your table is going to be interested in buying your books. That’s okay! Not all value is monetary. If you’re at an event with other authors, get to know what they’re selling. If someone says, “I don’t read romance. I’m more interested in fantasy.” You can say, “Oh, have you checked out Mike Squatrito’s booth?” Remember that you’re not only at these events to sell books. It’s also a great opportunity to build your community, network, and plant seeds. Be kind. Stay positive. Don’t say anything about someone that you wouldn’t feel comfortable saying to their face. Pretty basic stuff, but good to keep in mind!
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Have another great tip that I missed? Please share what’s working for you in the comments!