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.
You need to always be approachable. Make sure you put on your best smile and look genuinely happy. Remember other people are just as nervous about stopping to ask questions as you are to answer them. Alleviate their fears with a happy easy going attitude.
Don’t pass by an opportunity. If someone stops long enough to read the back cover of one of your books, they are interested. Tell them what the book is about in your own words. Likewise, if someone stops to look at swag, explain the connection to your books.
Everyone wants to know what someone else is interested in. Have a few friends stop by your booth and show interest in your books by reading the backs, or even posing for selfies with the author and book. You’ll be amazed how many people will stop to see what all the buzz is about.
Have someone dressed in costume hand out your promotional items. People are drawn to the unusual, so give them that. If the character is from one of your books, even better. If you don’t have anyone who is willing to do this for you, wear a costume yourself.
People in costume are the easiest to draw to you. When people attend a comic con or fan event, they go to lengths to choose and, in some cases, make an elaborate costume. Take advantage of that. Comment on how great they look and ask to take their picture. That opens you up to a whole line of conversation about your books. People are more likely to take an interest in you if you take an interest in them.
Be a good Samaritan. Events can be crowded. If you see someone struggling with their purchases and no bag, offer them one. Little things can make a big difference.
You are more approachable standing than you are sitting. Obviously it is difficult to stand for the entire time you are at an event, especially if you have any health conditions that make it hard to stay on your feet. At the very least you should look busy.
Make some noise. If you are giving away something for free you could have a bell you can ring to announce to the crowd walking by of the great deal someone just picked up.
Be yourself. People can tell when someone is faking a personality. Even if loud bells and pictures aren’t you, make sure the person that speaks in the end is you.
Other vendors are your potential readers. Talk to your neighbors. Take a walk around the venue and chat, not just about your books, but take an interest in what everyone else has to offer as well. Make a special price for anyone vending. You will find there are some events this is where the majority of your sales will come from.
Don’t leave early. If things have been slow and other vendors are packing up, resist the urge to follow suit. Not only does leaving early make you look bad to the organizers of the event, it looks bad to the people who are still in attendance. Try to stick it out to the end. You may find that with less to look at from other tables, the final sales of the day go to you.
At the end of the day, take a moment to pat yourself on the back. You survived your first event. Even if you didn’t make the sales you hoped for you have gained something just as important, exposure. Next year if you attend the same event, people will remember you.
Thanks for reading. Join me next week for Surviving The World of Live Events – Panels.