A friend of mine recently came to me asking for advice about attending an upcoming con. She wanted to know what authors (and other types of exhibitors) should do (and should not do) to make a con successful. She enjoyed my response so much she said I should post a blog that might help other authors. So, that said, here goes!
Things you should do:
- Treat the event like work/job. Be professional.
- Yet you should also be yourself. Just cut the F Bombs for the duration of the event, if you can.
- Stand as much as you possibly can. Sitting may be misconstrued as unapproachable or that you’re not interested. However, if your legs, ankles, or feet are hurting (as longer events can cause these sorts of ailments), go ahead and sit. Just be sure not to cross your arms over your chest.
- Have ice-breaker questions or comments ready to go. Like “Oh, I really love that top!” or “Hey, I have that same bag!” or even, “Hi! Welcome to the EVENT NAME, I hope you’re having a great time.” Finally – “So, what do you like to read?”
- Talk to people about things OTHER THAN your books. Sure, you want to sell books, but a soft sell is better than a hard sell.
- Put candy on your table to entice people to swing by and say hi.
- If you’re speaking on panels, be sure to tell people where they can find you afterward. (I kept forgetting this one.)
- Make sure your books are visible from all directions of traffic. If you put them at an angle you might be hiding them from someone.
- Make sure your banners are elevated so people see more of them. Portable benches will help here.
- Keep your swag neat and keep like titles with like titles. Try not to overwhelm buyers with unnecessary clutter.
- Arrive early to get parking close to where you need to be.
- Have a good breakfast and bring non-perishable snacks.
- Drink plenty of water.
Things you probably shouldn’t do.
- Sit there with a scowl on your face and your arms crossed over your chest. (Resting bitch face is a bad thing, too.) Remember that body language is important.
- Do not have more than 3 people behind a six foot table at any time. Too many people behind the table can be intimidating for introvert readers. They’ll likely just pass you by.
- Do not bring all your friends and family behind the table to try to sell your book, especially if there is only room for two people. One other person is fine (to relieve you for breaks etc…) I get that writers hate being alone because we’re introverted and often suffer from social anxiety, but this is WORK. You wouldn’t bring your entire entourage to work with you, would you?
- Do not lie to readers about your book’s contents in order to try to persuade them to buy your book.
- Don’t be a “soft talker”. Practice projecting your voice and enunciating.
- Don’t abandon your table with no one behind it! We were next to a table of ladies who had fans stopping by all the time when no one was there. I cringe to think how many sales they may have lost.
When sharing a table:
- Help your table mates out by trying to sell their books, too, when they’re not there. Make sure you have a one line pitch for every book on the table memorized.
- Don’t step on other people’s sales! If a reader b-lines it for one of your table mates books, picks it up and starts reading the back, do not distract them or try to pitch them your book. It’s a sure way to piss off your table mates AND scare off the potential buyer.
- If your table-mates have books on the table in the genre that the customer likes to read, don’t distract potential customers from those titles to try to sell them your books (that are not even remotely close to the genre the reader is into) because chances are you’ll lose your table-mate a sale, and piss off said table-mate.
- Do go into the event with rules for the table regarding sales, pitches, and behavior.
- Do not bring your entire family to hang out behind the table with you and your table-mate(s). Remember, this is WORK. You might consider it fun, but your table-mate(s) might be there to sell books exclusively and may feel shoved out, or feel that your big, busy family is hampering sales (it probably is).
- Do not gather with huge groups of friends or family in front of your table for long, drawn out conversations. It blocks the table from the view of passers by, and can greatly impede sales.
- Always be on guard to make sure your behavior isn’t losing you, or your table mate, sales.
- Find someone you mesh well with to share a table or to be on your team.
If I think of more, I’ll add them. In the meantime, this is a good start.