Hello Packmates! Earlier in the week I announced Blue Sun Studio would be attending the Clark County Spring Fling Book Fair, a free event for local authors to come and sell their books.
This was our first public event and very exciting. What author doesn’t dream of being in the spotlight, throngs of people lining up to buy books and have them signed?
Okay, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly like that, but it doesn’t hurt to let the Universe know what you want, right?
Planning for a fair or signing takes some preparation and budgeting. You want to look as professional as possible. You need fliers, postcards, business cards…all your marketing materials. Being a graphics company we’re very fortunate. I can generate most of those things right in house with nothing more than my computer and an office printer and still have them look great.
Having enough stock on hand is another consideration. I figured that the first book, Loyalties, would be the top seller and had a few of them on hand. We didn’t go crazy ordering a lot of books, the two or three Loyalties we had were plenty.
If you’re strictly digital, not a problem either. Take a copy of your .mobi or .epub file and burn it to disk! We had the bundles of all four books on CD, available at a discount—which was an incredible bargain, four books for less than the cost of a hardcover. Stick a business card in each packet and voila, you have a simple, inexpensive little product available for the public!
And they’re a lot less cumbersome than hauling around a ton of books. They also make great give-aways when another author approaches you and wants to make a trade for one of their books.
Our fliers were simple black and white. One had the all the books on it with the back cover blurbs and a little sentence or two taken from our many reviews. The other was a double-sided flier with our Author and Web Design services on it. Easy-peasy!
Diana met me at the library. Let me tell you about Diana. I’ve known her for several years, she’s a very good friend of mine. She showed up with Carl (her Minion) who’s quite the adventurer. Diana had been out shopping earlier and she brought me the greatest gift—a very pretty blue blouse to wear for the event. I told her when I’m rich and famous, she can be my stylist and personal shopper. She nailed the style and the fit! Bravo, Diana!
Our table was in the Jewel Theater on the library’s lower level. We had a sweet spot next to the front door to the right, the first table people naturally looked at when they walked in.
We shared a table with friend and client, Dr. Andy Nixon, author of 50 Shades of Grades: My Journey Through Wacademia. Andy was entertaining as always with a plethora of bad jokes, you know, the kind that are so bad you can’t help but laugh.
Andy and I both tried out our new PayPal mobile app, complete with credit card swiper. After a minor tech glitch on his iPhone, we got it figured out. I highly recommend that if you have a smart phone and can get the PayPal mobile app and swiper (or The Square), do so. They come in handy for book fairs and for selling your services at any place or time. At a conference? Why yes, yes I can accept a credit/debit card, let’s close this deal now.
The Saga looked beautiful all set up. In the future, I’ll know to bring a nice cloth for the table, and a box so I can create levels (a la Monty Python’s Knights Who Say Ni—only minus the herring).
But, even without all the extras for display, our covers added a splash of attention-getting color to the table.
Authors, I can’t stress enough how important cover design is to your book business. As a designer, I look at covers and I do judge books by them. Call me a snob, but if the cover is dismal, I can only guess what the rest of the book is like.
I saw so many authors who I wanted to take under my wing and say, come here, let me help you, you’re so much better than this.
Our covers is what made our first sale to a brand new Packmate, Christopher. Christopher came into the room early on and immediately stopped to admire the covers. We talked for a bit and then he went on his way.
A half hour later, he came back and bought a Loyalties paperback.
Covers rule. Make them great and people will stop. We had a few people stop and look and all of them said the same thing, “Your covers are the best ones here.”
Great design? Priceless.
The day went on and our room was always full. We laughed, we schmoozed, we met other local authors, we made connections and new friendships.
Lorna Eames, author of the newly released Witchy Woman and one of the fabulous members of my Las Vegas Writers’ Mastermind, stopped by with her friend Leighanne and chatted for a bit. Thank you both so much for coming out.
We also had a guest appearance from Becka Aeillo-Marsch and Lisa Owen. Both these gals have been Super Packmates, singing the praises of Saga and Pack. Let me tell you, it says something about your books when Packmates are willing to schlep 20lbs of books each to a show to have them signed. See that? The Saga is good for your health, too! You get a workout every time you read one.
It was so good finally meeting people I’ve only talked to on the web. Nothing beats face to face interaction. We love our Packmates and we’re really glad they showed their support by coming to the fair.
Overall, we sold three books. That may not sound like a lot, but for a small event like this, for an unknown author, it’s three more than I had expected.
Would I do it again? Yes. Totally worth it. I’ve learned that if you’re smart about your marketing materials, have realistic expectations, a book fair can be a lot of fun. The real value is in making connections, because you never know who’s looking at your books (case in point, I met Rick, who said he was a friend of Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander series—he liked the fact our books were “chunky” like hers).
And I can’t forget Sean Hoade, author of Deadtown Abbey. Total coincidental meeting (or was it??), both of us on our way out of the library hauling bags and boxes that for all intents and purposes should have been much lighter than they were going in.
I just wish I had a pic of Sean rockin’ that Cuthulu Fez he was wearing.
My advice to all you authors out there? If you have the opportunity to do a fair, do it. You may not sell a lot, but you’ll get out there, and the more you do, the more you’ll be recognized, and visibility is definitely the name of the game.
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