Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Writer Wednesday: Dos and Don'ts of Author Events

Last Saturday I attended a signing event, and I saw some things that really bothered me as an author. Several of the authors in attendance left early due to poor sales. Now it was a gorgeous Saturday with sunny skies and temperatures in the 80s. Plus we were competing with Comic Con being held in this area for the first time ever. So yes, attendance at the event wasn't great. However, I don't blame that on why these authors weren't selling. I saw some things I want to warn you all against.
  • Lack of displays  You don't have to be Martha Stewart to make your table of books look nice. But I saw authors literally throw copies of books on the uncovered fold-out tables. I'm talking not even in a pile. Just tossed. Others stacked their books and kept nothing but the side of the white pages facing the people walking into the room. The problem with this is it looks like the author just doesn't care. If you don't have a book stand, you can still prop a book up in front of the stack so people have something to look at other than a spine or white edges. And you can purchase a cheap table cloth to cover the ugly folding table. Mine cost me $1.99. I also like to print out the cover of my upcoming or newest release and display it as a poster or in a picture frame. It's simple, inexpensive, and looks nice. 
  • Not being accessible or open to interaction  Some authors brought their laptops and worked. Now, I get that people are busy. I definitely am too, but nothing says "Don't bother me" like hiding behind a computer or even your phone. You should want to interact with readers and engage them in conversation. Closing yourself off from them isn't going to make you any sales or potential fans.
  • Hiding behind a table  I'm short, so sitting behind a table means I get lost behind my displays. But even if that wasn't the case, I wouldn't sit behind a table. I stand (unless I'm signing a book—I sit then because I can't write legibly while standing). And I'm either on the side of my table or in front of it. Why? Because I want to talk to people as they pass by. I want to be someone that people see as friendly and approachable. And in a crowded room with other people talking, it's too difficult to talk across a table.
Now I'm not claiming to be an expert by any means, but even with low attendance, I sold well at this event. And even if I didn't, I wouldn't have left early because I believe if you commit to an event, you see it through. Yeah, there will be times when you only sell a few copies or even none. But we are professionals, and professionals don't leave when things don't go their way.

So please, if you are going to an event, go with the right attitude. If you show that you want to be there and engage in conversations with others, you'll have a lot more success as far as reaching potential readers and connecting with other authors.

26 comments:

  1. Kelly, you are classy and some other are not. That is why we love you. <3

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  2. Sounds like you have exactly the right attitude. You get what you give in life. Glad it was a success for you.

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    1. Yes, Fi, that's so true. You definitely do get what you give.

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  3. Very wise tips, Kelly, and just the right approach.

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  4. You are both courageous and commendable, Kelly. Many writers just aren't sales people, and this sort of event makes us uncomfortable. I have done few, and yes, I did interact and sold well. But it took more out of me than I can repeat with any frequency.
    but you are so right that if you commited to do such an event hiding behind the computer (what we do anyway...;=( ) at such events is a no-no, a real turn off.

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    1. In-person events are nerve-wracking at times, especially if you're speaking to a large group, but I think it's great to do them and let readers get to know you. I find I lose my nervousness the more I interact with people.

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  5. Important tips, Kelly! Our body language sends messages whether we realize it or not. Standing in front and smiling can make all the difference. I had my book cover made into a poster on foam core so I could stand it up behind the books. Also, I printed some pretty pics from Pinterest with uplifting quotes and propped those up as conversation starters. Always a good idea to have buyers or interested peeps sign up for email updates. Great post, Kelly!

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    1. Yes, I have the email signup for my newsletter too. That's a must.

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  6. Very good points. I have an armadillo hand puppet that I greet people with as they walk by my table. I give little finger puppets to the kids. I sell more of the picture books that way and hope they'll look at the older books too.

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    1. That's a great idea, Beverly! Very clever of you. :)

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  7. I have to give props to the writers who even show up at events. When they are hiding behind their phones and laptops, it looks bad. I think writer conferences should think about these things occurring and incorporate some learning sessions into the conference to address it!

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    1. It does look bad. I think it's better not to do events than to do them and not be committed to interacting with people.

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  8. Thanks for the tips Kelly. Some people aren't very outgoing, but it would seem a well thought out display would speak volumes for them thus making it easier to meet and greet.

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    1. Yes. You have to care or no one else will.

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  9. I agree, Kelly. We need to make ourselves seen and approachable when doing book signings. It doesn't do anyone any good to just sit there and watch the people walk right by our tables.

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  10. great tips..I'd say working on a laptop would be a turn off...I know I wouldn't approach, b/c I'd think they were too busy!

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  11. Really great tips! Funny, I was just talking about something along these lines with a friend who does craft fairs with her art--same exact things for how to drawn people in work there :)

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  12. I would think a writer as to wear their thick rejection skin - be prepared for 'No Thank You,' and be mentally equipped to handle whatever the turn out is. I am so far from being famous and wildly sought after, but I suspect an author has to tackle all things involveS with authorship with the steady resolve a Mother of a baby does.. be prepared for all situations, good and not so much. Have a baggie full or Cheerios, a bottle of aspirin, a hip flask, and a smile,

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    1. Just don't let anyone see the hip flask. ;)

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  13. You are absolutely right on being professional, Kelly. It may come as intimidating, having someone approach you, but the least you can do is to smile at them and make them feel welcome. If you don't want to be there, then don't sign up, right?

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    1. Exactly. Not everyone is up for in-person events, and that's okay. If they aren't for you, don't do them. It's better to avoid them than to be unprofessional in my opinion.

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