As some of my followers and readers of this blog know, I do several book festivals, conferences, signings, events etc a year. I am at these events selling and promoting my line of handmade bookmarks and book thongs. I am also there to connect with others who are authors, readers, and industry professionals, like myself. I love doing book events of all types because I am also an avid reader and huge fan of the people I feel blessed to meet. There have been some really great events and some really bad ones. Some I made money at, some I didn’t and some where I barely broke even. In doing so many book events I’ve learned which ones to do and which not to. I’ve also learned how to measure the actual advantages of doing certain one’s that cost a grip and I did not sell a thing.
We would all love to sell out of all of our merchandise at these events. The question is how to make the most of any event? I hear a lot of comments and people speak freely around me because I am not an author, but little do they know I coach authors on how to make themselves stand out in a sea of authors. The very things they are bitching and moaning about are the very things that I tell authors not to do. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
I recently did a book club conference that had at least 650 attendees. There were many major authors in attendance and readers galore. There were also many self published authors and other venders selling their wares. I had an awesome time. The readers were there ready to buy books and spend money. Several of the readers told me they save all year for this particular conference. I attended this event last year, as a reader and I knew I would be there this year.
It really pained me to over hear negative comments from people who did not feel they were doing as well as they could have, for a laundry list of reasons. Some were valid and some was whining. As I listened, the question then became, what are you NOT doing to make this work for you? Instead of complaining, how do YOU turn this around to your advantage?
To me the obvious first thing was stop wasting your time and energy complaining. You are letting hundreds of people pass you and you’re sitting behind your table moaning and groaning. Look at the glass as half full and figure out how to fill it.
One of the first things I would tell you to do is SMILE. It’s free and welcoming. If you’re pouting and complaining, no one wants to be around you. The readers are your customers. They don’t need to know you’re unhappy. They did not pay to come to this event to see you sulk. They don’t need to know all the politics of what’s going on behind the scenes. They want you to tell them about your book. Smile even if you’re not happy.
The next thing is plan. What is your objective in doing this event? Did you plan on what you want to gain from this experience besides sales?
Why aren’t you getting sales? Are you sitting behind the table waiting for the readers to come to you, or are you standing in front of your table, with your book in hand introducing yourself to the people passing by?
Did you dress you table up? Or do you just have your books on a table, with nothing to grab the attention of passerby’s.
Are you collecting the email addresses for contact later, when the competition is not so steep?
What did you offer in the way of promotional tools and as giveaways, that they will take home and check you out later?
Even if you were not a featured author, did it stop you from coming? Why did you come?
Trust me I have felt the same after leaving some of these events at first, and I have bitched and moaned too. But I learned how to turn it around. I figured out what to do before I got there, while I was there and to have plan A B C and D if necessary in place.
There are many things you can do prior to get the ball rolling, simple things that you can do now
Email all of your fans and let them know your going to be at this venue
Offer them a gift for coming
Find a way to dress up your table that is eye and attention getting
Create your brand and use it
Define your mission
Have an agenda
Build relationships with your social networks
Have several plans in place just in case things are not going the way you want them
While your there
Don’t stand behind the table
Get email addresses
Read an excerpt
Create a scene from your book
Where a tee shirt with your book title
Pay attention to what others are doing
Talk to other authors
Pass out promotional materials that stick
These are just a few things that you can do.
Don’t let what you can’t do interfere with what you can do.
The glass is half full what are YOU going to do to fill it up?
Don’t just show up, show out. Work these events like a job, because they are.
Infectious enthusiasm is an amazing draw