Hi, SE’ers! It’s Jan again to talk about another marketing opportunity for authors.
COVID put a halt to in-person events for authors for a full year, but things are now back in full swing. I did three this year with great results. People seem hungry to get out and about.
The first event was on Memorial Day weekend at the Lone Star Book Festival in Seguin, Texas. The location is about a five-hour drive for me, but Texas is a big state.
What I want to talk about here today is the nuts and bolts of doing an in-person event.
First and foremost is how your table appears.
Here is mine from the May event.
You will notice I have two banners. One is a table runner and the other is a vinyl banner with grommets for hanging. Later, after this photo was taken, I rearranged my books to include the four biographical fiction novels in one grouping, rather than having them spread out over the table. I place award stickers on all of my books that have won awards and display my award plaque. It’s hard to see in this photo, but to help bring attention to Ghostly Interference, I use a red Harley-Davidson motorcycle I bought on Ebay.
The second event I did was in Lubbock, Texas, sponsored by the Friends of the Lubbock Public Library. This event was very well attended with over fifty authors, live music, entertainment for the kiddos as well as panels and workshops. This was my first opportunity to sit on a panel and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
At any rate, here is my table. Since I couldn’t have a banner, I opted for a tabletop poster. I didn’t notice it at the time, but my table runner could have used a tumble in the dryer. 🙂 I had the tabletop poster made at my local UPS store.
Lots of authors opt to have candy on their tables to draw folks over. I give away bookmarks or a tri-fold with all of my books included.
So, let’s talk about author swag.
The most reasonable resource I have found for bookmarks, table runners, and banners is BannerBuzz. I have no vested interest in this company, they just give the best deals I’ve found with a quick turnaround. The second and coolest discovery I made during this year is that Canva offers printing services. I had no idea. But I created a trifold in Canva with all of my books and short stories, a one-line bio, social media links, and a QR code, then ordered the print copies direct from Canva. They are beautifully done, high quality, and inexpensive.
The cost to reserve a table at any of the events I attend is from $40 to $60. I won’t pay over $60.
Here are some don’ts if you are going to participate in a book festival.
- Don’t stay seated behind your table – Stand when you see someone approaching.
- Don’t keep your nose buried in an electronic device – if you look busy, people won’t bother you. Be engaging.
- Don’t immediately talk about your books – Talk about the weather, the cool purse they are carrying, their baby, or whatever else you can think of. I will often ask a potential customer what kind of books they like to read, then go from there.
- Don’t hesitate to make eye contact and smile.
- Don’t make anyone feel pressured to buy your work. Stay casual in talking about your books. Most often, the potential customer will ask, “What do you write?” There is your opening.
- Don’t talk so long that the customer’s eyes glaze over. This is where your elevator pitch comes in. Short and sweet. Then, if they are interested in knowing more, they will ask.
Between the three events, I sold over forty books that I would otherwise still have sitting in my storage room. But the best part of this marketing opportunity is connecting one-on-one with potential readers and networking with other authors.
When I went back to Seguin a couple of weeks ago, for the Pecan Festival, two different ladies searched me out to tell me they had purchased my books back in May and that they had loved them. That, my friends, is why I keep writing. Their genuine smiles and sincere words made all the hours of solitary work worthwhile.
What about you? Have you done any in-person events this year? I’d love to hear from you.
Also if you’ve missed other posts in this Book Marketing Series, you can find them below.
#MKTG Part 1 – OVERVIEW – BOOK MARKETING OPTIONS
#MKTG Part 2 – FACEBOOK ADS AND PASSION PAGES
#MKTG Part 3 – FACEBOOK ADS DETAILS
#MKTG Part 4 – TWITTER ADS
#MKTG Part 5 – INSTAGRAM
#MKTG Part 6 – PINTEREST