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.
Believe it or not, some people forget they need to bring copies of their books to events. I would suggest taking 10-25 of each book, depending on the size of the show you are attending. Placing QR codes on your table linking to your eBooks can create additional sales.
Most Venues do not provide tablecloths. If you want your display to look neat and tidy, I suggest picking up a couple of good plastic table covers. If, later on, you decide you want to vend at more events, there are options for cloth ones which can be embroidered with your name or logo. If you are going to a multiple day show, you will need something to drape on top of your display for overnight.
You will need writing instruments for autographs. When signing the inside of books, I recommend using a pen. Some markers can bleed through pages and ruin a book. For swag, I tend to use a gold or silver sharpie to make my signature stand out.
Authors attending events often have one or two book posters. I include a QR code linked to my amazon books on my movie sized posters. Keep in mind smaller venues will have less space to put up a stand and outside venues the weather can be difficult for these displays. Try to be mindful of your neighbouring authors/vendors as well. It isn’t fair to them to be crowded by your promotional signs.
Crowds breed germs. A bottle of hand sanitizer can make the difference between going home healthy or sick.
Most events have food and drinks available, but prices can be outrageous. Bringing things from home may end up the difference as to whether or not you make a profit. Double the amount of water you would normally drink in a day.
Always pack chapstick, moisturizers and if outside, sunblock. Events are dry and warm no matter what time of year.
Having a bowl of goodies sitting on your table will cause more people to stop at your booth. Think about the items you put out, though. Some people have allergies to certain foods. It is probably best to stick to hard candies like mints or lifesavers all individually wrapped. If you don’t want to take a chance on candy, you can try temporary tattoos or stickers.
A clipboard and paper for email sign ups is a must if you do a newsletter.
A small first aid kit is always a good idea. Make sure it includes bandages and headache pills, just in case.
Try to find something that ties into your books to decorate your booth with. A dollar store usually has some good ideas. Bright neon paper stars are perfect to display specials. Small chalkboards can be useful for prices. Picture frame stands are perfect for displaying your books. Browse around for all sorts of possibilities.
Every author must have at least one type of swag. For your first show, try business cards, bookmarks or postcards. You only need one type of paper item. There are other forms of swag, however, if this is your first event, you probably don’t need to invest in any…yet.
You will need something to carry everything in. I suggest large plastic storage bins. For bigger shows, you may want to invest in a folding handcart to transport your bins to your booth from your car.
Insurance is one thing people tend to overlook. Only some venues carry insurance to cover vendors. More and more frequently now, vendors are required to have their own event insurance. Luckily, you can choose to cover a single event, one month, three months, six months or a year and a policy is available through most insurance brokers.
Don’t forget to bring some change. People will have crisp bills fresh from a machine and if you aren’t able to provide change you could lose sales. It’s always good to have a container to keep money in as well.
Take some time to consider signing up for an online credit card processing system. Square payments allows you to process credit payments through your phone. You can charge fees to your customers.
Now is the time to bring out the scrapbook you have been working on containing all newspaper articles, flyers, events and reviews about you and your books. Display it on your table for potential customers to browse through. Remember to add any promotions for your current event, highlighting your name and/or books.
Think of things that are specific to you as well. If you have allergies, you may want to bring some medicine and tissues. Napkins are good to have for spills or accidents. Bring along a sweater or dress in layers so as not to be too hot or too cold. Above all, remember to bring your smile.
Join me next week for Surviving Online Events Part V~ Preparing for your first event ~ Mental preparations.