Category Archives: Surviving the World of Events

Holiday Shows

It’s that time of year again. November 1st starts the holiday buying season. You don’t have to celebrate Christmas to be a part of the festivities. Weekends are packed with Bazaars and shows aimed at bringing buyers out to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list. Since most people can read, it seems fitting that books be at least a portion of that market. A signed book makes an even more special gift idea.

After finding a venue, you’ll need to make a few extra preparations to make the most of the event. A trip to the dollar store will make a big difference in your bottom line.

If you don’t have your own tablecloth, I suggest picking up one with snowflakes or presents on it. I advise you stay away from anything religious so as not to offend any potential buyers. This isn’t about your beliefs, it is about marketing your book(s). If you have your own tablecloth, paper confetti or garlands can spice it up.

The main difference between a regular show and a holiday one is how easy it is to up-sell. People are looking for gifts and stocking stuffers. Now is the time to package your books in sets of 2, 3, or more with multiple-book discount prices.

Let’s not forget the packaging. Wrap books in cellophane with ribbons and bows or even offer gift wrapping services. I recommend taking an assistant to handle those duties. Pre-cut wrapping paper and ribbon can make the job quicker, easier, and neater. Place stickers that read Author Signed Copy on anything pre-wrapped. The easier you make gift giving, the more people will buy.

If you want to further personalize gift giving options, have the wrapping paper and ribbon personalized with your book cover art. You can even have tags or cards made to match. It might giveaway what the gift is, but it’s sure to draw a crowd to your table and end up being a conversational piece in someone’s home.

If you have the room, a mini tree is a nice touch. Wrapped books lying underneath can help potential buyers visualize them in their homes. While ordering personalized supplies you can also order specially made ornaments to match.

If you are on a budget, make tags that can double as a bookmark to add with every purchase. To make it more festive, simply tie it to a candy-cane.

Remember the main theme is happy and jolly, so that’s what you will need to be. Put aside your problems for the day and bring out the good will.

Thanks for reading, and see you next week for another edition of “The Write Information.”

Working the Table

Previously, I had you do an exercise where you walked around a mall and said a few words to anyone you made eye contact with. That is exactly what you will be doing at every event. Everything you have been preparing for up until now is to draw people to your table so that you can talk to them. You have already planned what you are going to say, all you need to do is put that into practice.

It’s time to people watch. Not everyone who passes you will make eye contact. In fact, seasoned festival and convention goers may even hide their gaze from you. Don’t be discouraged. This is completely normal. After a few events, things will be much easier. You’ll be able to form your own plan of what works best for you to grab attention. Until then, I have a few tips that can help.


Swag That Makes Sense

By now you have had a chance to look at a lot of different types of swag. Perhaps you are wondering what could work better than some of the products you are currently using. It’s time to go back to your roots: your book(s).

The main idea of swag is to create exposure for your books. To do that, there needs to be something that connects people back to your writing. While a website, a logo or a link to social media may have its merits, something more substantial, something that makes people talk about and think about your novels, is better.

Your exercise today is to take a pen and some paper and write down all the things you associate with your books. Start with issues that the general population can associate with.


Other Book Swag

Now that you have chosen and presumably ordered your paper swag, you have probably noticed all the other goodies that can be made to advertise your book(s). When it comes to swag, I am guilty. From beer steins to pens and everything else in between, I have given it a whirl. So which swag is worth your while and, more importantly, money? That’s a decision you need to make for yourself. Of course I have some tips to help you make that choice.


Book Swag

Probably one of the most exciting times in the beginning of an author’s journey is creating their own book swag. The thought of seeing images of your book on the surface of different items, with a crowd going crazy to get something, anything of yours in their hands, can cloud your judgment. When it comes to swag, I am guilty of trying a large number of different types. Looking back now, I could have made better choices, at least financially speaking.

I divide swag into two categories, paper, and non-paper. This week we’ll be taking a look at the different types of paper swag and how to make some of it more effective.


Setting the Table


Now that you are packed and ready, your own personal adventure in surviving online events is about to begin. Butterflies are probably swirling around in your stomach. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. It happens to everyone their first time. No matter how many articles you read and how much research you do, until you actually attend an event, nothing can fully prepare you.

About a week ago you should have heard from the organizers by email with instructions for the big day. For smaller events, this is probably no more than information about time to arrive and location. Volunteers will direct you further upon arrival at the venue. Larger events, however, will have very specific load in and load out procedures that you will need to follow. It is important you read through this email carefully. I suggest printing out a copy and keeping it with you for easy access on arrival to avoid any possible confusion. It is important to note that some packages will include an access pass that is required to be displayed on your vehicle’s dashboard to access the loading bays. Once you have unloaded your vehicle, be considerate to other vendors and move to a regular parking spot before unpacking any of your bins and boxes.

Volunteers and organizers are your friends at any event. If you have any questions, be sure to ask. Take a few minutes to establish your bearings. Learn where your table or booth is located. You should know the quickest route to building exits (if the venue is inside) as well as to and from bathrooms and food courts.

Now it’s time to set your table. Begin with your tablecloth, making sure that it reaches the floor facing front. All your bins and boxes can now be hidden and organized under the table. Survey your space before setting up posters and signage. Be considerate to those around you. If the tables are set up close together you may not be able to bring out larger promotional items.

The actual layout of the items on your table is yours to creatively design. Keep it interesting. You want to stand out and demand attention. Your job is to draw people in with your display. Everything you do from here on should be geared to starting conversations with potential readers.

Obviously, you will need a few copies of each of your books, whatever paper swag you chose (postcards, bookmarks or business cards) and your portfolio. Once you have these arranged you can decide what else you would like to display.

Things to consider for your table:

A picture of your book with a large QR code on it, framed and displayed for customers who would prefer to purchase an eBook. You can create your own QR codes at Link these codes directly to whichever site you prefer to sell your eBook on.

A bowl of candy or stickers to giveaway.

A way to display your prices. If you have multiple items, a framed price list may be a good choice. You can also use mini chalkboards or vibrantly colored paper stars.

Consider theming your table to go with your book. If you look around the internet you can find most items can be made and personalized for your taste, including small statues you design in the image of characters, action figures, toys, and posters. These items are usually too expensive to sell individually, but can be great conversation starters.

Arranging underneath your table is as important as the top. You should have easy access to additional books if you need them, shopping bags (if you offer them), pens, markers, hand sanitizer, tissues and your cash box. Your cooler containing water and food should be fairly easy to access with minimal rearranging. Likewise, keep your first aid kit handy.

If you arrived early enough, there should be a bit of time left to take a few pictures and relax before potential customers begin to arrive.

Join me next week for Surviving the World of Live Events VII – Book Swag.

Surviving The World Of Online Events Part V ~ Preparing for your first event ~ Being mentally prepared

Having all the items you need to bring with you to an event is only one part of being prepared. If you aren’t mentally prepared, sales will slip through your fingers faster than water falls from a faucet turned on high.

Introverts should accept the fact that live events are interactive. As an author representing your work, you will need to talk to people and appear confident. If this is an issue for you, I recommend walking through a mall and saying hello to every person you make eye contact with. After a few times, you will understand the basics of what you will experience at your first event. Eye contact is your chance to start a conversation with someone about your books. Hello is always an excellent opening for any conversation.


Surviving the World of Live Events – Part IV ~ Preparing for your first event ~ Physical Items

Now that you have your event booked and paid for, it’s time to get ready for the big day both mentally and physically. If you are anything like me, after the initial excitement of being a part of a show settled down, I was left with questions galore. I tried searching Google and asking in writer groups. Although there were some good pieces of advice here and there, I still found myself totally unprepared. Now, I have a list of items that I consider taking with me for all events. Not everything is needed every time. You need to think about your venue when deciding what to pack.


Surviving the World of Live Events – Part III ~ Finding Alternative Events

It’s Sunday, and we are excited to bring you another installment of Surviving the World of Live Events by Carol Ann King Here is Part III ~ Finding Alternative Events

It’s time to think outside the box again. Take a moment, close your eyes and think about your book(s). Write down all the words that you thought of. Now look for an event that corresponds to everything on your list. If there is one thing you can count on, there is something happening somewhere that fits in with the themes of your book.


Street festivals are usually made to support a cause. A simple search of your town or city’s website calendars will tell you when they are happening and give a link to contact about vending. These are usually the most inexpensive places to showcase your books, but have a smaller crowd that attends.

Bazaars and flea markets are everywhere and happen year round. A Google search is a good place to start. Kijiji, Craigslist, and online classifieds will provide you with enough places to start. If the venue is open year round, take a day to see what it offers. Look for specific themes. If you write about antiques, coins or even old haunted items, then a venue that offers vintage material may be a good fit for you.


Typically this is a seasonal event that starts up in October. If you write horror, fantasy or science fiction, this is your haven – business is there for your taking. Watch your local papers and online classifieds, you don’t want to miss a single one.


Do you write romance? How about historical romance? This is the place for you. Even the right kind of fantasy can do well in this venue. People attending are begging to be swept away ~ to another place ~ to another time ~ into the arms of a new lover. Your book can offer all that and more. Specialty festivals are well advertised online and begging for vendors.


Cookbook authors this is where you shine. During the summer months when produce is ripe there is so much competition between pick-your-own farms that they all offer special events. An author signing for a cookbook is right up their aisle, especially if your book features recipes with their products. Apples and strawberries anyone? Don’t forget pumpkin season!


Erotica feel like you are always being left out? Look no further than you local lingerie or adult store. Trust me, they feel left out too. Having an erotica author or two come in for a day could boost their sales and yours.


Kids want everything they see. Parents would prefer their child read a book. It isn’t hard to put two and two together. What better way to make everyone happy by having a child walk out with both a book and a toy or candy?


There are many pride festivals from Pagan Pride to LGBQT and you can easily find them all listed online.

Whatever you write, there is a place for you. Be creative with your search and don’t be discouraged if your ideas aren’t accepted at the first place you try. Small businesses are more likely to be open to your suggestions than a large chain store.

Join me next time for Surviving the World of Live Events Part IV ~ Preparing for your first event.

Remember, you can find Carol’s books at

Surviving Live Events – Part II ~ Finding a Venue

The decision has been made and you are looking for a place to showcase your books. Congratulations. This isn’t an easy thing for a writer to do, especially if you are an introvert who prefers a computer screen to crowds. The next step you need to take is to find a place that is compatible with what you are trying to accomplish. Sales are an obvious goal, but there are other things to consider as well, including, but not limited to, networking, exposure, meeting existing fans, making one or two new fans, and experience. Different venues will provide you with one or more of those and each has its own value. But, in a world of book shows, fan expos, comic-cons, street festivals, art shows and other events, it can be difficult to figure out the best place to start. Whatever you choose to do, document it with programs, pictures, listings, fliers, newspaper clippings, and anything else you can get your hands on with your name or books listed. This is the start of your event portfolio. Be creative. Make a scrapbook or photo album to display at future events for people to browse through. Everyone looks for someone with experience. The more people who know your name, the more attractive you are to event coordinators.


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