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.