Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Great Unknown - Working a Trade Show

One way we authors promote ourselves, and our books, is to show up at book fairs, literary festivals, comic cons etc. Ideally, rather than sitting behind a table with a pile of novels and trying to look brilliant, you should attempt to get involved in any panel discussions or workshops. Anything to attract positive attention to you is a good thing.

This also means paying attention to the look of your sales table. What do you have to attract attention other than a stack of books? How are they arranged? Hopefully you have display stands to show them off, some giveaways, and something to separate you from the rest of the venders. Don’t just sit there behind the table looking bored. It pays to interact with the folks wandering through the displays. Talk up your genre, tell them what you do. Be prepared to give very brief (single sentence?) descriptions of the plot of your books. Smile and be friendly, even after a very long day when you may not have sold anything.

Unfortunately, you often have no idea what is going to happen at these events. I’ve worked three days at a Comic Con with 40,000 in attendance and sold a handful of books. I’ve also spent a couple of days at a festival with twenty attendees and sold the same amount. By the time you cover the cost of the table, and maybe an admission fee, you might have trouble breaking even from the across-the-table sales. What you are looking for is exposure, the reader who will look you up on the internet, hopefully buy, and spread the word.

Panel discussions can be fun, or hair-pulling. You might find yourself in a heated debate, or sitting beside your favorite big-name author. I’ve sat in on rooms filled to the rafters, and panels that were cancelled because everybody went to the one next door. I like it when they ask questions and laugh at our answers. That certainly beats the alternatives.

These events give you an opportunity to meet other authors, and to find out what they are doing. They are often willing to share what events worked for them, and what didn’t. I had an opportunity to read at a local major bookstore simply because I’d met the series organizers at a con.

Whatever you do, keep writing, and supporting other writers! 


The Dark Lady - February 2012
Dark Days – March 2014
Dark Knights – coming in August 2014

The Queen=s Pawn - April 2013 (seven chapters into book two)

The Housetrap Chronicles Volume One - Jan 2014 (working on novella #7)


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Like truth or consequences, but also truth and consequences. It's almost impossible to break even when you are responsible for you own costs.

Best: be sure the event is well covered in the press and other media. Exposure and access are key.

Big Mike said...

Point is, did you have fun. How many people in this country can sit in front of an audience and say, "Yeah, I wrote that." Not many. It's why I write, I enjoy it, not the profit that is scarce, but the our mind.

Michael Davis (
Author of the Year (2008 and 2009)
Award of Excellence (2012)