May 1, 2013

12 Tips to Market Your Book at Shows

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.
Yoda... or some weird zombie dog?
Here's my tips on how to market your book at shows:
  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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. 
  5. 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).
  6. 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.
  7. 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. 
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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!
  12. 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:

 Loading InLinkz ...


  1. This was a great post! I'm doing a craft fair this weekend--which isn't the right venue for my book, but we'll see. I did make lots of "Sendek Inspired" necklaces to sell along with my book.

    However, I really want to do DragonCon next year. Or the year after my second book comes out. I think that would be so much fun!

  2. Wow-- I had no idea they were so showy! What fun! Thanks for sharing what you've learned with the rest of us.

  3. This is so brilliant! Sound like you had a lot of fun AND success at Supernova!

    Lynda R Young
    IWSG co-host

  4. That was very informative. Sounds like it was a lot of fun too.


  5. Aha, email sign ups - brilliant. Also pricing your book at a nice and easy $10 must have helped sales. Well done and thanks for sharing with us. All the best for Dognapped too!

  6. Hi Charmaine!

    Sounds like you had fun as well as business at the show. Thanks for sharing all these advice!

    All the best!


  7. Great advice, and sounds like lots of fun too!


    Just wondering, did you dress as a zombie too?

  8. Awesome article and it looks like a fantastic time had by all. Great caricature of Zombie Dog. His leg's in his mouth. LOL.

    This is one of the reasons I love coming to your blog. So informative. I've bookmarked this post. GREAT idea with the child-friendly magnets! All the ideas were great (thus, the bookmarking).

  9. Brilliant post. Thanks for sharing your tips of what you learned while there.

  10. Loving your photos! :D

    I like the "chat don't sell" too. I once went to a table at conference and the vendor started to talk about my Coach bag. We got to talking about the conference and before long, I asked her about her book. She was so friendly and non-pushy about it, so I bought it. Forget that I haven't had the time to read it, but hey, I was an easy sell because she was an easy going person.

  11. Hi, Charmaine. Thanks for sharing those photos. Very cool! I have done a few events, but nothing like that one. I look forward to doing some in not-too-distant future. I'm happy to report that I followed many of your pointers already. I will remember the rest at the next one.
    I hope things are well on your side of the planet. Take care.


    1. Hi James,

      Just realised I missed your cover release date! I'll post this weekend :)

  12. Hey, this was a great post! The tip about making freebies (like magnets, bookmarks, etc.) less like ads and more like useful or clever "keeper" items was great. I usually don't accept that sort of stuff at trade shows and signings because they're ugly or boring, but your zombie dog is cute!

  13. Great tips! I've been invited to speak at science fiction conventions, but the timing was never good. I'll remember what you said when considering them in the future.

  14. I agree with the support! Great post and tips.

  15. Love the tips and photos. Fortunately my publisher is scheduling the blog tour. lol

  16. This is an amazing post! It sounds as if you had a great time.

  17. Brilliant idea.. Had fun reading this post... Do visit me pls..

  18. Hi Charmaine,

    Thanks for these great tips on marketing books. It's especially important to choose shows where your customers go. Once there you're right about the importance of chatting rather than selling, and getting to know the other vendors.

    Here in CA, authors have book signings at coffee shops, farmers' markets, craft fairs and many other places. There is much money-making potential when we think outside the bookstore.

  19. Charmaine, thanks for all of these wonderful tips! I have to say, for my day job I routinely talk to strangers about the place I represent and it's no big deal. For some reason, though, the idea of sitting at a table to promote/sell my writing makes my tummy turn, a bit! :-) I reckon it's the kind of thing an indie author really needs to get over, eh? :-D
    Some Dark Romantic

    1. I have to agree with you Mina, I think I could be very extrovert selling someone else's book, but it's much more difficult to talk about our own.

  20. Hey friend, it is very well written article, thank you for the valuable and useful information you provide in this post. Keep up the good work! FYI, shih tzu hair products , Citi Double Cash Credit Card Review, The book you wish your parents had read book pdf download,My daily routine paragraph in english