Over the course of my author career, I’ve explored all the different methods of marketing my books, such as social media, paid advertising, word-of-mouth, and even “stealth” marketing (e.g. I put my business card inside of books at Barnes & Noble). While I’ve seen some success in all these avenues, my most successful ventures are book events. That is why I always recommend that other authors (self-published or traditionally published) consider doing book events to help get their names out there.

However, before you go signing up for the first book festival that shows up on Google, make sure you check out these helpful tips for book events.

1. Do Your Research

When searching for a book event to attend, do your due diligence and research your options. Is this a new event, or has it been going on for a while? Who is hosting the event? Are they reputable? Is it indoors or outdoors? Have other vendors had success at this event?

Most events charge vendors for spots, and they can cost a pretty penny, so you don’t want to rush into anything without doing your homework. Think of it like shopping for a new car; hardly anybody walks into a dealership, points at a car, and goes, “I am buying that one right now!” Research is critical.

2. Don’t Bring Too Much or Too Little

If you’re attending a new event that you’ve never experienced before, you might be wondering what kind of traffic to expect. It could be a huge turnout, or it could be a total dud. You want to bring enough books so you don’t run out of stock, but at the same time, you don’t want to be lugging boxes upon boxes of books back and forth from your car.

I always recommend bringing about 10 of each of your books maximum to a new event. This way, you won’t exhaust yourself setting everything up or breaking it down, and you’ll still have plenty of copies to go around.

3. Bring the Right Supplies For Yourself

Some events can go on for hours, and you don’t want to be stuck at your table with nothing but your books and your phone keeping you company. Here are a few supplies I recommend bringing with you to your event:

  • Portable charger
  • Book to read
  • Laptop
  • Mints/gum
  • A snack
  • Water
  • Pens
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Tissues

In addition to all this, you’ll want to check with the event coordinator to see if they will supply you with a table, chair, and tablecloth. If not, then make sure you have these as well!

4. Offer Goodies With Your Books

Besides your book, look at other things you can offer/sell. Whenever I sell a book, I include a bookmark, a business card, a small paper with a sneak-peek at one of my novels, and a bag with my name and website on it. I also occasionally sell t-shirts, posters, mugs, and keychains. Even though you’re an author, don’t restrict yourself to offering just books.

One thing I advise against, and many other attendees may disagree with me on this, is having a candy bowl. Sure, you’ll have plenty of people coming to get candy, but from my experience, they don’t actually buy. Also, there are some children out there who don’t understand the concept of “Please, only take one.”

5. Have Fun!

Book events should be fun; not a chore. If you aren’t the social type, then events may not be for you since you have to regularly engage with people if you want to sell any books. I’ve seen more than one author who spent the entire event sitting at their table with their arms crossed and a scowl on their face. Others would keep their faces buried in their phones or laptops and give one-word answers to anyone who spoke to them.

I’m a bit of an introvert. It was hard for me to engage strangers when I started doing events. Over time, I became more comfortable with at least saying hello to anyone that passed my table and having open conversations with them, even if it’s not about my books.

If you’re having trouble with opening up at an event, make friends with the authors next to you to lighten the mood and help you relax. Good moods are contagious, and shoppers are more likely to gravitate toward areas with a positive atmosphere.