As I mentioned in my previous post, I’ve been attending a lot of author events lately and it got me to thinking about the various things I’ve learned as well as tips and tricks I’ve found to be useful.
If you’re an author who is new to attending in-person events, you may not know what to expect. Therefore, I’ve decided to do a series of posts to help you get started.
This first post will mainly focus on setting up your booth and a list of fairly inexpensive materials you may find useful. You can follow the links for an example of what I’m talking about. However, most of these items can be found at a variety of retailers.
Relatively low-cost items for your author table:
- Tablecloth: One that will fit a 6-foot long table. Think about color. Do you want something that will complement with your book cover, or contrast? Whatever you choose will set the foundation for your entire display, so don’t get a fabric that is super cheap looking. Also, consider buying some tablecloth picnic clips to clamp the tablecloth down in case of wind.
- Table signs: You can design signs for free on Canva and then have them printed out inexpensively at Staples. Plan to have at least one listing the price of your books. Other signs could include Amazon reviews, the back blurb of your book, or a news article written about your work.
- Plastic sign holders: These can be found at a number of retailers, including Staples. There are a few different styles, from simple to ones that hold business cards (or in my case, bookmarks.)
- Bookmarks: You’ll want to have plenty to pass out to people who may not want a physical copy of your book, but are interested in looking your e-book up online.
- Point-of-sale device: I use Square and find it very useful. You can either use the swipe device or the chip reader – both are easy. Don’t forget to set up your item list before-hand with your various titles. You can also have Square track your inventory for you if you plug in the amounts ahead of time. (Highly recommended!)
- A newsletter sign-up sheet, on a clipboard with a pen: I’ve found that these sign-up sheets work best if they are printed out and look professional. If you just slap a notebook down on the table with some headings scrawled on top, people don’t trust it enough to leave their e-mail information. However, if you take the time to have an official looking form, with a “Name” header and “E-mail” header, you’ll get more sign-ups. Don’t forget to supply a pen!
- Business cards: Author events are a great way to network with fellow authors, libraries, and bookstores. Be prepared for any business opportunity by having your business cards on hand.
- BOOKS! Don’t forget the most important part! Be sure to have plenty in stock for whatever event you’re attending. If you need to order ahead of time, plan to have them at least one week in advance of your event. This will give you some leeway in case there’s a weather or shipping emergency. Remember that printing your books will also take time. It’s better to have them too early, then to be sweating bullets or paying out the nose for expedited shipping, all because you procrastinated.
Optional Items that will help spruce up your display:
- Little book holders help get your book vertical so the cover is more visible to people walking by.
- A bowl of candy: Bring a nice serving bowl from home and grab a couple bags of candy to keep it filled throughout the day. Please note, assume that this cost is a loss leader and consider it a goodwill gesture. There will be people who eat your candy and don’t buy your book. THAT’S OKAY!
- Battery operated LED lights: Add a little sparkle to your display! I found light packs for a low cost at the Christmas Tree Shops, but I’ve seen them at craft stores as well. Shorter strands work better and are more versatile.
- Paper or plastic shopping bags: So your customers can carry your books with them comfortably. This is especially helpful if your event is outside and you’re worried about the weather. (Instead of buying a box of shopping bags, don’t be afraid to re-use plastic grocery bags to keep overhead costs low. Especially when you’re just starting out.)
- Plastic sheets or clear shower curtains: Again, this is mainly for outdoor events where there may be bad weather. Remember, if your books get wet, that’s money down the drain. Better to be prepared! (Why shower curtains? Check my next post, Author events – Part 2!)
- Handy Fix-it Kit: When putting your author booth kit together, try to prepare for anything. Have a pair of scissors, tape, stapler, twine, thumbtacks, pliers, and anything else that may be useful. Guaranteed, you’re not going to think of everything, however keep a list and add to your kit as needed.
So, there you have it! If you’re just starting out, these are the items that I have found to be most useful for setting up your author booth. Next, I’ll discuss some of the big ticket items that you’ll likely need to buy (or borrow) in order to have a fully equipped, ready-to-go author booth at your disposal.
How about you? Are you an author who likes attending live events? What items have you found essential must-haves?
Last year I watched a fellow author friend of mine, Connie Johnson Hambley, attend a seemingly endless number of live author events, from signings to expos to readings at the library. It seemed like every time I turned around, she was posting a photo of her booth at a new location! I found it inspiring and quickly decided that I’d like to take a page from her book.
Which helps explain why these last two weekends have been very busy! On September 30th I hosted my Secret Need book release party at the Battle Grounds Coffee Company in Haverhill, Massachusetts. My friend Lynne asked me some interview questions, I read a few excerpts, there were refreshments and door raffle prizes, as well as signed books available for sale. Overall, it was a great success and people seemed to have a lot of fun. I know I certainly did!
This past weekend I attended the Scituate Art Festival in Scituate, Rhode Island with my Association of Rhode Island Authors group. Although the weather could have been better (Sunday was a bit soggy) I was pleased with how well it went! Not only did I get to know my fellow authors in the group a bit better – I’m a fairly new member – but I also sold a decent amount of books.
Both occasions made me realize just how much I LIKE doing live author events. I enjoy the interaction with readers and potential readers. I also appreciate the opportunity to discuss craft and marketing with other writers. So far, I’ve learned something new with every event I’ve participated in and walked away feeling energized. From a business standpoint, it doesn’t hurt that I’m creating other avenues to sell my books and am less dependent on Amazon for being my main outlet.
I’m also inspired to write a little more about how to make the most out of any author event you participate in. Expect to see a few more blog posts on this topic in the near future.
Are you an author? Have you done many live events? If so, what did you think of them? If not, what’s holding you back?
CONNIE JOHNSON HAMBLEY writes high-concept thrillers featuring remarkable women entangled in modern-day crimes. Her latest book, The Wake, was released September 1st.
BIG NEWS! I’m thrilled to announce that Secret Need has won The Book Designer e-Book Cover Design Award for August 2017!
Joel Friedlander has been running this contest for years now and I’ve always found his critiques to be insightful. It’s one of the best resources available for an author wanting to learn more about what makes a strong cover. So, you can imagine what a shock it was to discover my cover was actually chosen as the winner!
You can check out the other submissions, and read the comments and critiques, here: http://bit.ly/2hunWhy
Thanks again to Damonza for their brilliant cover design!
Check out my interview with Katie Li, author of Somewhere in Between. Where we discuss the challenges of writing a second book, making a good bad guy, and sharing personal opinions as an author.
Writers On Writing: Interview with Satin Russell (Part 2!)
Also, be sure to sign up to her awesome bi-weekly e-zine called The Beautiful Worst for a chance to win an e-book copy of Secret Hunger and Secret Need!
I hope today finds you with a good book and a comfy place to read it! And don’t forget, you can always pick up a copy of Secret Need, as well!
Hey everybody! Can you do me a HUGE favor and go vote for my cover on All Author? Registration is free and easy. It’s also a great resource if you’re a fellow author.
Winner gets a pro-author membership and featured on their site for a month that I wouldn’t be able to afford on my own. Here’s the LINK.
Much obliged! (Wish me luck!)
And, if you haven’t seen it yet, this is the cover in question. Isn’t it pretty? Wouldn’t it look nice in the #1 spot? (Feel free to share this post and spread the word!)
The time has finally come. Secret Need is now available on Amazon!
See why readers are saying, “Secret Need is an amazing read.” and “…once I started I struggled to put it down. ”
Get your copy today! Buy links:
Secret Need, the second of The Harper Sisters series, is coming out tomorrow – August 22nd! Be sure to get your copy at the special pre-order price of 99¢! You can order it here: Secret Need
Haven’t read the first book? Well, you’re in luck! Secret Hunger is on Kindle Countdown until August 23rd – also only 99¢! You can get it here: Secret Hunger
There you have it. Two great books for two bucks!
As many of you know, Secret Need’s official release date is August 22nd.
However, I went to the New England Author Expo last Wednesday and wanted to have some books available for the event. I decided to have a limited, pre-release edition printed up. There are only 15 copies of this special run and I’m happy to say quite a few of them sold, however I have a few left.
That’s good news for you, my dear readers. I am now hosting a Secret Need Pre-Release contest on my newsletter and YOU could win a copy of this rare edition.
Interested? Entering is easy and free! Simply sign up to my newsletter and you are entered into the drawing once.
Want to stack the odds in your favor? Share this >Facebook post< and you’ll be entered into the drawing twice!
If all those shares are successful and my newsletter subscribers reach 100, then I will give away TWO pre-release copies of Secret Need! So, it pays to tell your friends and share the news. (Full disclosure: I currently have 88 subscribers. Hopefully it’s not too difficult a goal.)
That’s it. Pretty easy, right? I will determine a winner on Tuesday, August 8th at 10 a.m. ET. Contest is only open to US residents. (Sorry! International postage costs are prohibitive.) Good luck!