Join me on Facebook, too!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A2R Marketing: This Author's Secret Weapon

I've got a secret weapon for executing the perfect author event, increasing book sales, and keeping a professional and engaging demeanor.

And I'm not gonna share.

Moderating a panel at the Bookstock
Literary festival is easier with help.
Usually, I use the "A2R" tag to share tips, experiences, and insights on Author to Reader events, marketing and outreach.

But the every-author-needs-to-have-this thing?

I'm keeping this secret to myself.

I've written before about the kinds of promotional events authors do in libraries, private events, or bookstores. Today, the events I'll focus on are of the face-to-face variety, not the many web-based events like online chats or blog tours.

I'm good at public speaking and enjoy it, therefore I look for opportunities to get in front of people either as part of a panel or as a solo speaker. Even if I'm not formally presenting, I enjoy getting out and meeting readers. At most of these events, I'm encouraged to bring books to sell. After all, what is an author without her books?

  • Problem 1: Books can be heavy.

This was back in the day when I had one book.
Now I have four to my name and counting.
I also go to festivals and outdoor shows, like art shows or horse shows. Most of these 
require me to bring my own vendor tent.

  • Problem 2: Tents are big and have poles and canvas. I'm an author, not a civil engineer.
  • Problem 3: Big white tents are boring. 
  • Problem 4: Big, exciting signs blow away.

Some table displays are better than others and Book Hubby
kept watch while I struck a deal to trade a book
for a bottle of Irish Whiskey, forever securing his position. 

Occasionally, outdoor events have a dedicated author area established, with tables and chairs at the ready. Re-read problems three and four. For anything indoors, re-read problem four and insert "fall over" for "blow away."

This setup at the Groton Horse Trails
shows what an eye-catching
and conversation-starting display should look like.
To solve one aspect of problem three (another aspect solution is below), I make sure to have photographs, plaques, awards, family memorabilia on display. Each item sparks a conversation and conversations lead to sales.

Oh, but once you have your display all set up with your precious books and family memorabilia sprinkled about, can you leave that unattended?

  • Problem 5: Authors have to pee.

When everything clicks and you have a good crowd, a very, very nice problem to have is an excited fan engaging you in conversation while other people wait patiently for their turn to talk with you and get a book signed.

Problem 6: People who are not engaged or feel ignored leave the cue unhappy.

Enter my secret weapon. Some folks may refer to theirs as a Book Sherpa, Book Buddy, or BFBBFF (Best Freaking Book Buddy Friend Forever). Whatever you want to call it, you need one. Chances are, you probably already have one. I had mine for years before I knew how useful this secret would be in my life as as author. 

What is this amazing thing? My secret weapon is my Book Hubby.

Why? Book Hubby provides multi-faceted solutions in one, easy care package.

Book Hubby on way to chat up cable TV crew
 about "great new book your viewers should know!"
  • Solution 1: Book Hubby carries a lot of books!
  • Solution 2: Book Hubby has much more patience than I have to set up tents.
  • Solution 3: Book Hubby can be very, very funny. 
  • Solution 4: Book Hubby is clever.
  • Solution 5: Book Hubby is an extra set of eyes and sells books even when I'm not present!
  • Solution 6: Book Hubby engages folks in conversation and makes sure they stay in line and happy!
The picture below looks like Book Hubby is sleeping or reading or relaxing. What you can't see in this picture is the horizontal rain and the tent that had just blown down the street behind us in the 20-plus mile per hour winds. Book Hubby's strategically placed body:
A rain squall during an Irish Festival had other vendors running,
but my trusty Book Hubby saved the day!
  1. Kept the tent from blowing away;
  2. Ensured the tent flap was not going to fly wildly and damage my books;
  3. Securing the flap kept my books dry;
  4. Made me smile.
What else did my Book Hubby do aside from sit?
  1. Lugged the stuff to and from the car (which he had loaded the night before);
  2. Set up the tent almost single-handed (hey, I'm good for more than just writing books!)
  3. In the lower left corner, you can see a round weight tethered by a cord. Book Hubby used his Boy Scout experience and deployed a trusty a Half-Hitch or Square Knot or Something-or-Other to tie a 25 pound weight to each corner. I don't know how to tie knots that have their own names. That's just beyond me.
  4. Created a clever system for hanging posters with fishing line and Velcro, which we discovered ensured the posters did not fly away in said 20-plus mile per hour winds.
  5. Bought me a Guinness at the end of the day!
And that helping me keep a professional demeanor thing? Book Hubby takes care of the little details that would frazzle my brain prior to taking a podium for a reading. I need to get my Zen on, and Book Hubby protects my preparation bubble. I gave him a raise for knowing me so well.

Book Hubby does more than this, and that's why I'm not sharing.

Go ahead. Get your own Book Sherpa or BFBBFF or Book Buddy.

This Book Hubby is mine, all mine.