Welcome to the second installment of my Book Expo Guide. Last week, I shared with you how to prepare for a book expo. Did you miss that one? That’s okay. You can find it here: Book Expo Participation: A Guide
So… now you’re packing your bags and heading out the door… what next?
Well yes, you do need to pack your books. But what else do you need to pack?
Here’s a helpful list:
- Books (This one’s obvious, but… Also, a suitcase on wheels because books are heavy.)
- Pens (Not only for you to sign your books, but also for people to sign up for your newsletter.)
- Swag and business cards (I only give business cards out to other authors or service providers because it has my phone number on it.)
- An easel. (A small one to put a copy of your book on. You can get one at places like Dollar Stores or the ‘Mart.)
- Email sign-up slips, and something to hold them. (I printed mine 5 to a page and they looked like raffle tickets. I used a small basket I already had at home.)
- Candy. (Another way to pull people in. I had miniature chocolate bars in a clear glass bowl.)
- Water and mints. (These are for you. After talking for a while, your mouth gets dry and your breath gets stale.)
- Comfortable clothes and shoes. (You stand all day , and if you’re not, you’re missing some valuable interactions with potential customers.)
- A card reader and change. (Most people bring cash, but not always. You can get a Square or PayPal reader for free, it plugs into your phone or tablet. They charge you a minimal percentage of every sale, but it’s worth it.)
- At least one colorful flyer that encourages someone to sign up for your email list and has the prizes on it.
This is just the minimal stuff. I also had things like sharpies, tape, tissues, hand sanitizer, and a notebook.
I’m here… now what?
Now that you’ve dragged your stuff into the building, found your table, located the nearest restroom, and helped your assistant set up your table, what’s next? Well, if you’re like me, you’ll have some time to network with all the other authors there.
I signed up for other author’s email lists so I could see how other authors do newsletters and learn from them. I asked a few of them questions and met some really great people. I think networking with the other authors there was the experience I enjoyed the most.
When the expo began, I spent most of my time trying to pull people to my table. My approach was to ask every passing person if they’d like to sign up for a chance to win $25 to Amazon. 47 people signed up. While they were writing, I’d ask them what kind of fiction they liked and told them about my book. Five people purchased my book.
To me, this was a small celebration. It may not have been what I expected, but that’s 47 people who’d never heard of me before and now knew who I was. Of those 47, thanks to poor handwriting and something called a ‘hard bounce’ in Mailchimp speak, my news letter got to 45 people.
Be on a Panel
A few weeks before the expo, the organizers emailed participating authors and mentioned panels. They noted that panels were great to reach readers, but didn’t have specific panels set up. They told us that if we had something we’d like to discuss, email them and they’d create a panel for us. As a newbie, this was extremely intimidating. I asked myself, “What could I possibly have to talk about? And who would want to listen to someone with only one book?” The idea was daunting, so I didn’t sign up.
While at the expo I met a really great author who asked me if I signed up for a panel. She had signed up with someone else who had come up with the idea and she talked about the creativity of writing. If I had to do it over again, I’d join a panel.
Something Customers Come Back For
In addition to all the things I used to pull people to my table, I had an extra incentive for anyone who bought my book. I tucked a coupon for 30% off the Savage Revolution paperback through Createspace. I had 4×6 printed book cover in a a frame that said, “Ask me how to get 30% off.” Basically, it was just another incentive to purchase a book at the expo.
At the End of the Day
At the end of the day, you’ll be tired, cranky, and ready to go home. Or, at least I was. Standing all day, smiling, conversations, and just putting yourself out there is exhausting. Thankfully, my sister is an efficient packer and we spent all of 15 minutes packing up and only had to make one trip to the car. Even though I was ready to go and had a disappointing day (it felt like it then, anyway), there were still a few things that needed done before I could leave. This is what I did/didn’t do:
- Fill out a survey if given one. Be honest, but not mean. Give suggestions, not complaints.
- Thank the organizers. Though I’d love to organize one of these events myself more locally (like Columbus, Ohio. And yes, that’s a hint. If you’re an author in the central Ohio area and would like to do something like this, too, hit me up 😉 ), I know that planning one isn’t easy.
- Congratulate other authors. The expo had best sellers announced at the end. If the event you’re at has this and you’re close to one of these winners, or see them on your way out, congratulate them.
- Double check that you have everything. There’s nothing worse than getting out of the parking garage and then realizing you forgot your phone. (No, that didn’t happen to me. I double checked.)
- DON’T count your money while sitting at your table. It comes off unprofessional to potential customers and other authors. There could still be stragglers that haven’t left yet or an author who was interested in your book but wanted to wait until the end of the event. If they’re looking for your type of book and see you ‘counting down your drawer’, they’ll assume you’re done for the day and won’t stop by.
I hope this helps all of you potential event-goers. Stay tuned for Part 3: After the Big Day.
P.S. Would you like an autographed copy of Beasts and Savages? I’m giving away 10. Sign up: