5 Things I've Learned at Author Events That First-Timers Might Not Think Of
First of all, if you can’t tell by the title, we’re talking author events and book signings today, and that topic didn’t just come out of the blue.
On February 25, 2023, I’ll be attending my first author event since 2019! If you’re in the Central Ohio area, stop by the ArtsaRound Gallery in Circleville at 1:00 pm to buy a book or two! You can learn more by visiting their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/pickawayartsaround or www.ArtsaRound.org.
If you are an author about to go to your first event, it can be a little daunting. There are so many little (and big) things to remember! Today, I wanted to talk about five things I’ve learned by working author events and book signings that might not cross your mind at first.
1. Bring a Helper. If you have someone who can join you, it’s going to make things so much easier and not just because they can help you transport your goods or help you set up. Some events last the whole weekend, and if you have someone to help you hold down the fort, it makes it simpler to take bathroom breaks, get food, and actually take a moment to enjoy the other exhibitors around you.
2. Put the Product in their Hands (and Maybe Bring a Few Extra Goodies). One of the rules they always tell salespeople is to put the product in the potential buyer’s hands. Not only does it allow them to envision themselves buying, but in the case of books, it gives them a moment to read the blurb, skim a few pages, etc. But sometimes it’s not the book that immediately brings someone to your table. Bringing a few more goodies for sale will increase your chances of catching someone’s eye. Whether it’s jewelry, candles, tea cozies—you name it!
3. There Will Be Some Dead Time…and That’s Okay. Unless you’re Neil Gaiman, you will have some dead time between buyers. And there’s nothing wrong with that! These moments can allow you to collect your thoughts, organize your table after a rush, and maybe take a moment to snap a selfie for your socials. There’s also something else you can do with this dead time…
4. Chatting with Other Authors/Vendors is Worth Your Time! Networking can be just as important as sales. The other authors around you may have podcasts, blogs, or anthologies they’re assembling. By chatting with others, you may make a connection that leads to your next project. I once sold at an event that was totally rained out! All of the authors ended up trying to set up inside the bookstore while a torrential downpour flooded the streets outside. It was, perhaps, not the most successful sale day but we all talked shop and learned about new opportunities, and that made it so worth it! And speaking of the weather…
5. Have Display Copies. Perhaps it’s my last name, but I have attended several rainy outdoor events in my time. Even when the rain passes, that means humidity! The atmosphere in which you're selling may be dry, windy, cold, humid, damp—all of which can have negative effects on your actual product. You may also be selling right next to the Steve’s Sticky Toffee Donuts booth. All of this means you need to have the books you intend to sell kept away in a nice, sealed container where they aren’t going to curl in the humidity or be attacked by toffee fingers.
Events can be a little intimidating, but if you take a moment to really look at your plan, prepare a check list—and make sure you bring snacks and water—these events can also be an absolute blast. Good luck, and I hope to see you on February 25th!