Maybe you’ve done events in the past – whether these are book shows specifically, or book signings in bookstores, libraries, or even craft fairs. If you came up short on book sales, you’re probably not alone. So often we decide to do these events, without any kind of real insight into what it takes to make them successful. And that’s not your fault per se, because doing successful events takes time. People who do a lot of trade shows know this – it can be a lot of work, but also a lot of payoff if it’s done correctly.
As authors, we spend a lot of time online, or locked behind our computers. And while this has merit, there is nothing quite like an in-person event. And while getting a book event booked seems like half the battle (and it is), now it’s time to figure out how to start selling more books at events, regardless of the event you’re doing. In addition to this post, I’ve also recently published a checklist here!
Some years back, I was promoting a fiction book I wrote, The Cliffhanger. The book was set in Oregon and I traveled up there to do some events. But you know, factoring in the travel and the time it takes to do these, I really needed this to pay off in terms of book sales. As luck would have it, a major storm hit the area on the day of the signing. Though I had gotten some press for the event, the heavy storm kept the majority of people away.
I had also sent the bookstore a ton of swag to use, including a sign for the window, which they had never unboxed. So other than the article in a local paper, no real promotion had happened.
With the store all but empty, I started to panic and then I remembered my own guidance to authors: marketing is about message and movement. So instead of just sitting in a chair, I got up and walked around. People, seeing refuge from the storm were browsing the shelves and I politely introduced myself.
Several of them said: “Oh I read you were going to be here.” And I sold a book to each of them! I stayed way past my signing time and wound up selling out of the books I brought with me, which admittedly wasn’t a lot. I think I brought 20 in a box. But it was better than I’d initially expected to sell, which was zero. This signing taught me a lot about connecting with consumers in stores and selling more books at events.
If you have an event coming up, consider the below ideas while you prep, and if you haven’t contacted me yet and you’re serious about taking your book to the next level, let’s chat so you know what your options are.