What I Learned About Author Events: Part 3

Many of you will remember that Blood in the Past was originally available in e-book only. Then something strange happened. Friends and family and acquaintances and random people from high school were asking for a print version. I started to realize that even though my own Kindle is never more than seven inches from me and much of the population has embraced digital reading, there’s still a substantial chunk of readers that prefer holding actual dead trees in their hands. And I was neglecting them. And that wasn’t all. I belong to two local writing groups and they often organize signings and author panels. Not having a print version of my books to sell at those events put me at a disadvantage.

So in September I made Blood in the Past available in paperback and in October I had three, count ’em THREE, author events. Two weeks ago I discussed my very first event. Last week, I discussed protecting your display from the elements. Today I’ll discuss my third event and what I learned from it. (This will be the final piece in the three-part series. Thank you for joining me as I shared my experiences.)

My third event was the Autumn Authors Fair at A Novel Idea. A Novel Idea is an adorable little bookstore within an Amish Marketplace in Vineland, NJ. The South Jersey Authors Group was there promoting its anthology, Tall Tales and Short Stories, and there were probably a dozen other authors selling their books and merchandise. We weren’t actually set up inside A Novel Idea, but rather our tables were arranged in a rectangle in the lobby of the marketplace so us authors could attack approach shoppers from all sides. I had my own space for this one and I pulled out all the stops. The day before I worked tirelessly to create an eye-catching excerpt from Blood in the Past and had it printed out on a standing 11×17″ board. Coupled with the marbles I’d bought to weigh down my tablecloths at future outdoor events (but they were too pretty not to use ASAP) and my little corner was hard to miss! I sold six books, my last three charm bookmarks, and SO many syringe pens (over a dozen definitely, but I lost count)! I had learned a lot during the previous two events, so I was pretty prepared. Let’s see how I did:

  • It was a bit chilly, so I wore a tight, black turtleneck, but I made sure I could push the sleeves up if the temperature warmed up. I also brought a large bottle of water and something to nibble on. I took care of myself. Yay!
  • I finally got to an event early enough to really set up my display nicely. I now have three standing signs. The one I discussed above, with the excerpt from Blood in the Past, was a big hit. I choose a particularly eerie passage and the black, red, and white hues were attention-grabbing. The other sign is actually a flyer with a bio that specifies I’m a local author which is important for these events. Even though all the authors there are usually local, when people spot that in writing, they seem more interested. The third is a smaller sign, simple. It spins, oscillating between Blood in the Past‘s front and back cover. When Blood in the Paint‘s cover is ready (by the way, did you see the release date countdown over there on the right!), I’ll change it to a COMING SOON display. I also spread out the syringe pens that I bought wholesale from Amazon and the bookmarks that I purchased custom from two different vendors on Facebook. After I added the marbles and the other fancy weights I’d purchased, my area was downright snazzy!
  • You’ll recall I had been terrible at talking to customers. Well, at this event, I rocked. When people showed interest in the syringes, I made sure they knew they were pens that wrote in red ink. Then I let them know the other items were bookmarks. (Apparently that wasn’t obvious to ANYONE. The next time I order some I’ll have to remember to take one out of the package and actually place it inside of a book and put that on display.) And I quickly realized that saying my books were “Psychological Thrillers” wasn’t enough. You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what the hell that means. So, I would start with that, then ask if they’ve read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or if they’ve read/seen Dexter. I even threw in a few other popular television shows like Criminal Minds and Law & Order: SVU. It definitely worked. Once one of those things struck a chord of recognition, I went on to tie it in with my book. Twisted female protagonist/antagonist (Gone Girl), told from the POV of the serial killer as they deal with their demons (Dexter), etc. Toward the end of the day, I had an iron-clad pitch that worked well with customers. All I need to do now is work on a quick one-sentence tagline that applies directly to my book. The author seated next to me had one (she was a children’s author), and I envied her a little. Teehee.
  • So what did I learn? As you can see, I didn’t really learn much from this outing. Technically, I applied what I’d learned previously and did quite well. I’m so proud of myself!


5 thoughts on “What I Learned About Author Events: Part 3

  1. I’ve enjoyed reading about your experiences, and what you’ve learned. All of it is valuable information, since a lot of us self-publishers don’t have much know how regarding interacting with potential customers in a public setting. Thanks for sharing!

    • Aww, you’re very welcome! I’m really glad that my posts were helpful. I’m still new to this author-publisher thing, so I don’t always have knowledge to share that isn’t secondhand. That being said, I was happy to share!

  2. Pingback: What I Learned About Author Events: Part 1 | journeyofjordannaeast

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