Regardless of your interest or niche, there's bound to be a show or exhibition to celebrate it. These events can be strategic opportunities to market your book. I recently attended Supanova, an annual expo on all things pop culture. I go every year with the kids, because they love the cosplay (visitors come dressed as their favourite characters from films, books, games, comics, etc). This year I took the leap and booked myself a stand. It was a great experience. Some things I did well, and I've learned a few tips for my next show.
Here's my tips on how to market your book at shows:
- Choose the show carefully. Who is your customer and which shows would they attend? Romance novels based on weddings, would do well at a wedding expo, the visitors are mostly female and obviously interested in weddings and most likely romantics. Supanova was a great choice for me because of the zombie aspect of my book. I'd also be keen to do any shows where the visitors include a large percentage of children.
- Stock up. I signed 74 books at Supanova and went home with only 6 copies (which I had to post out the next day for orders anyway). I did order more stock, but not in time. Make sure you won't run out!
- Have freebies. I took along magnets to give away and promote the book. I get these printed through Vistaprint very cheaply, and each one includes my website address, or a QR code. I give them away freely. I am careful not to make the image look solely like an advertisement, because people (especially kids) would be less likely to even want them.
- Follow up sales. I also have postcards printed up (Vistaprint), which promote the book, include a blurb and all necessary contact details to make it easy for someone to order books after the show.
- Signage. I have a good sign with bright colours, to promote my stand and books. I've decided the sign should be a little bigger for these events, but luckily, I can get one made up for very little cost (yup, Vistaprint).
- Price wisely. I put a discounted price on my books just for Supanova. At $10, it's cheap enough for parents to happily fork over the dough without having to think too much about it. I also had signage announcing the price so people knew before they approached my stand.
- Dress it up. A plain fold-out table looks unprofessional. I didn't plan this ahead, but thankfully remembered to bring some fabric. Mine was green fur (appropriate for the book), and I covered that with purple tulle just to make it stand out.
- Bring back up. My kids were keen to attend the show anyway. And although they spent most of the time off exploring, it was good to have someone to mind the stand for bathroom breaks and fetch me a cuppa every now and then.
- Chat don't sell. When people came up to my stand I'd chat about the costumes and celebrities at the show. I don't jump into a sales pitch for the book. Just make them feel welcome to come and have a sticky-beak. Most people will then choose to turn the conversation to your book by asking questions.
- Display the book. Don't leave all the books lying flat on the table. I'd have some books sitting upright on top of stacks of books, so they're easy to spot at a distance (these are my own copies that I feel comfortable bending). The other copies are stacked and fanned out at the front of the table, so no matter where a person stands, they'll be right in front of a copy.
- Get to know the other stand-holders. It's such a supportive environment. I sold a few books to other people with stands at the show, and even did a couple of book swaps with authors. Another bonus for me was being right next door to some awesome artists doing caricatures. One of the artists did a great zombie dog drawing for me!
- Build an email list. This is something I didn't do, but will include next time. By having an email sign-up sheet at your stand, you can build a list of future customers and let them know when you have a new book out. Anthony from Book Cover Cafe has all the best advice on how to create and use an email sign-up sheet: Building your email list at live events
That's it, it was a great weekend and lots of fun! The girls and I had a Doctor Who theme going, but some of the other costumes were very original!
Have you signed up for the Dognapped? blog tour?
I'll be emailing participants in about a week (give you time to recover from A-Z first) and aim to release the book about mid-May. There'll be competitions and prizes:
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