Right now I’m in the Omaha, Nebraska area visiting my good friend Janet Syas Nitsick. She signed up to be one of the vendors at the AppleJack Festival in Nebraska City, Nebraska. There were lots of vendors, but Janet was in the Fox Center. I played the gopher for her, running around and getting things she needed. It was a lot of fun.
So anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever done a post on what an author goes through to set up a book signing at a craft show, festival, or some other kind of event where people can sell things.
1. The author needs to search for events that are going on in their area that they are interested in going to.
There will be a person to contact if you want to be a vendor. The author contacts the vendor, and the vendor will give the author the information on where to go, when to be there to set things up, etc.
2. The author needs to look at expenses.
There is usually a cost to reserve the spot. For this particular event, Janet paid $75 to be a vendor. Also, since she’s in Nebraska, she is required to charge sales tax. In this case, Nebraska City’s sales tax was 7.5%. The sales tax varies from one city to the next. (The taxes all go to the government. She doesn’t keep it.) In addition to that, Janet had to figure in cost of gas since this is almost one hour from her home and money paid for food and drink while she is out. Also, she had to keep track of the miles she drove. Those costs are business related and can be written off when she files her taxes, but she will need to keep careful track of her expenses, so receipts are a must. I mention all of this because unless she can make more than all of the expenses, she will not make a profit. So as you can see, her asking $9.95 for a paperback isn’t outrageous. If she was to have any hope of recouping the costs, she needed to ask that.
3. The author must engage people.
One thing I noticed over the two days was that if Janet didn’t start talking to people, no one would have bought her books. The rules of marketing are different when you’re in person. Online, you have some flexibility. You can do free reads, engage in social media, run ads, etc, but at a book signing, you don’t have that luxury. You need to get out and mingle with people. If you don’t, people will go right by the table without looking back. About half the people Janet talked to loved to read, but they hadn’t planned on stopping by the table. She had to make eye contact with them, smile, and engage them into a conversation in order to get them to stop. When I found out they loved clean romances, which is what she writes, I kept wondering why they didn’t stop before she talked to them. So if you’re going to have a book signing, you must be willing to get out there and socialize. (The same was true for other vendors as well. Those who initiated the most conversations sold the best.)
Now, I skipped over the whole thing where an author has to set up their table because I have pictures for that! Pictures are the fun part. 🙂
When you’re at an event, the big thing is setting up the table. Just as marketers stress attractive book covers, blogs, and websites in the online world, it’s important to present an attractive table to appeal to your ideal audience.
Below is the process for setting up the table.
First, we got the skirt around the table.
After we set up the book signing poster, we finished lining the table with tablecloths to cover it.
Then we put the items on top of the table where they belong.
Now you add the author, and everything is ready!
And I thought I’d show what it looks like inside a building when all of the vendors and set up and doing business:
And though this has nothing to do with the topic, I saw the bathroom sink and thought it was so cute that I took a picture of it.