Over the last couple of years I’ve attended about a dozen shows varying between Comic book stores, Bookstores, Benefit shows, Book fairs and Comic book conventions all for one reason to showcase my books, and to sell them. I’ve hit, I’ve missed, watched people walk past me like I was invisible, fought off convention sleepiness and pulled off some amazing sales. What follows after the jump is my collective knowledge on how to put on a show if you are an indie author in a 20 point list…
1. Try to keep everything packed in one box – try to make sure that box has wheels cause books get heavy fast and that hundred yard walk across the convention floor or from your car to the store gets mighty long with 40lbs of books!
2. Bring someone with you to remind you to eat, drink, help you sell and prod you when you get sleepy.
3. Dress tidy… No one expects a suit, I aim for casual smart… Oh, take a towel because when you have a towel people assume you have everything else 😉
4. Take your own food and snacks – convention food in the hall is very expensive. Try to keep your snacks light and refreshing I’ve found dried and normal fruit is the perfect convention food.
5. Stay hydrated… Again drinks unless you can get into the green room are awfully expensive in a convention hall. Try to stick to tea or water, stay away from sugary drinks they will dry your mouth in convention air.
6. When setting up try to arrive 40 – 60 minutes early. It is much better to be sitting down and looking relaxed when the show opens, than looking like a hot mess and still putting your stuff out when the show starts. Plus it give you chance to network, talk with the staff and make any adjustments to your display.
7. Bring your own drop cloth – every show I’ve been too you will get a table and maybe two chairs. Your own cloth even if it is a sheet will do wonders and make you look a little more professional.
8. Invest in a material stand… Books look much better standing up than laying down and invites your customer to touch and flick through them. I got mine from Office Depot for about $25, it is three-tier, clear plastic and displays my books wonderfully.
9. Do not put all your books on the table – it will look like a jumble sale and really only need two or three copies out of each title. Unless of course your trying to make a book tower.
10. Smile, say hello to everyone who passes by… If you are busy signing a book your helper should be engaging passers-by. In short do not be shy, the more you get to talk the more comfortable you will be to talk about your work.
11. Have conversations even if it doesn’t lead to sale right then, chances are they will come back to you.
12. Have something you can giveaway, a business card listing your website, a postcard that is a cover of your book, a bookmark… To get stuff printed cheap check out Vistaprint and type in 50% off into Google to get their ongoing coupon. Every person who visits you should come away with something to remind them of you.
13. Smile – if you look miserable no one will come near you.
14. Take hand sanitizer I don’t think I have to explain this… Some convention goers do have an odd interpretation of hygiene.
15. Pictures… Pictures… Pictures… If it is a comic book convention chances are there are Cosplayers wandering around, ask them to take a picture holding your work… They love it, you get a cool picture and it lightens up the day. If you can tweet the pictures from the show floor with your table location attached!
16. If possible have a blow up of your book cover and make a poster, people are engaged visually before they read anything.
17. Put the book in the customer’s hand… It is an old salesman trick, once it is being held they find it harder to put down and it increases the chance of making a sale.
18. If you are signing a book, write the name of the person down your signing too on a piece of paper… I lost count of how many badly spelled names I’ve written and how many different ways Micheal can be spelled.
19. Keep your witty dedication short.
20. Have fun!!! Your living your dream and selling your work… Enjoy it!!!