What Not To Do At An Author Event

Summertime for an independent author symbolizes more than just getting outside to enjoy the warm weather after a long, cold, winter, or getting the opportunity to write outdoors. It represents the beginning of one of the most significant times of the year: travel season. Comic cons, writing workshops, panels and other exciting opportunities which help to get out yourself out there to network and sell your book! After all, there’s no one out there who can sell your book better than you. You are the brand!

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(From the 2017 Ann Arbor Book Festival from left to right – Mackenzie Flohr, Richard DuMont, J.S. Bailey)

I have emphasized before how being an indie author has its own unique challenges. You must work extra hard to get your book out there, and even convince some people why they should pick up your book when they do not even know who you are. Author signings are one of the best opportunities for this. You will get to meet readers excited to learn about you and your book. There’s nothing like getting to see the look on someone’s face after purchasing your book and seeing you personalize their copy for them!

I find at each author event I attend, I learn something new. And I’m equally surprised by how many things authors continue to do that they shouldn’t. If you’re an author, discover if you may be guilty of doing any of these things, and readers, think about how many times you may have seen an author do this.

What Not To Do:

  1. Presentation – The presentation of your author table is important. You want something that helps bring readers over to your table. Don’t just stack your books on the table! It not only looks sloppy, but readers are not going to want to waste their time picking through your mess. Is that message you want to pass onto your readers? If you only have one title, the most you will want to put on the table is a max of six books. Then, include other things such as your business cards, bookmarks, brochures, etc.
  2. Avoid being pushy – You will find just like any other sales environment, some people are just there to look. They may not even want to acknowledge your presence. Respect their boundaries. Don’t alienate your customer by making them feel uncomfortable! Not everyone is there to buy your book. Instead, encourage them to take your business cards. You may be surprised how many sales you get after the event simply because you permitted someone the opportunity to take their time looking over your materials.
  3. Network – There are going to be down times. Use that opportunity to network with other attending authors! Don’t sit behind your table playing or texting on your cell phone.
  4. Engage – Remember that most of the attendees will have no knowledge of who you are or what you write about. Don’t sit behind your author table! Stand. Smile. Say, hello. Find ways to engage in conversation. New readers will feel encouraged to speak with you when they know you are approachable. Ask them about what they like to read, favorite authors, etc. Leave them with a good, lasting impression! For example, after my latest book signing on Saturday, I actually read on facebook one of new readers say about me, “I really enjoyed talking to her…fun!”
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