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.
BOOK SHOWS & LITERARY FESTIVALS
This may seem at first glance, the logical place for an author to start. Booths, tables, and tents range in price anywhere from free to thousands of dollars. So where can you find one? A Google search, if you are lucky, will find something in your area. Of course, if you want the low down on anything to do with books, you need to find a place where they keep a stock of them – a place where literature is the most important thing. Can you think of a place like that? Yes! You guessed it! A library. Your local libraries have an event calendar and fliers about everything to do with books in your area. You can even go online and view calendars for libraries for neighboring towns and cities. Don’t worry it gets easier. Networking at one event means invitations to others.
TRADITIONAL AUTHOR READINGS AND SIGNINGS
While visiting a library, make sure you donate a book and some bookmarks. Speak to the staff and let them know you are available for readings and author signings. Again, once you have successfully hosted one of these, the more likely other libraries will offer you a spot.
Small bookstores often will feature an author. All you have to do is talk to the owners. Why not make them a deal on your books for the day? How about offering to allow them consignment privileges?
If you are having a problem finding a venue, try teaming up with one or more other writers. Having multiple local authors sweetens the deal. Remember if you are not paying a location to host your event, the place you are applying to needs to make sure enough people are interested in the products being offered.
Don’t overlook your local art and music festivals. Books are a form of art that is often absent from the artistic community and wrongfully so. Coordinators will be happy to see you apply for a spot. This is an opportunity for you to stand out as one of a kind. Check your local parks for fliers about upcoming events you can apply to join in. Community Centers and museums are other good places to look into.
FAN EXPO’S AND COMIC-CONS
These events are where you spend the big bucks. A table in artist alley generally starts around one hundred dollars. The more coveted spots can run you well into the thousands. That doesn’t mean that everyone is accepted. You will need to fill in an application and wait for an answer. These are so popular you can type in any major city together with comic-con in Google to find one.
No matter which type of venue you choose, make sure it suits your book. A comic-con or fan event is more suited to science fiction, fantasy. An exhibit in a war museum might be better suited to non-fiction. Of course, there are other places you can find to showcase your work. Watch for Part III of Surviving Live Events: Finding Alternative Events.