Book festivals are great parties for those who adore books. Book festivals remind you why you write, and who’s out there waiting to hear your words. But they can be stressful for authors and especially introverts. As an indie and traditional author who knows how to write and how to order books, I find it’s not the easiest thing to launch a small show, which is what you’re putting together. So I like to gather tips to get my more introverted side ready for these events. Hope they help you!
If you like videos, check out my brief message below, or jump to the post to get the lengthier version with some added bonuses.
If you can, bring a team. At least one other person to woman the table while you chat with readers and move about, or just go to the restroom, is essential. I was so lucky to have my amazing mama with me, a woman with exquisite taste, impeccable retail sense, and visual-spatial gifts, to help me set up my table and hawk my wares. Let’s be clear: Lyn Fairchild Hawks did no hawking whatsoever: she mingled, she signed, she presented. I confess I’m terrible at sales; I don’t recall whether you’ve paid and I don’t care if you walk off with a book. But my budget does, my taxes do, and thankfully, my mom is keeping the trains running in this regard!
If your display has at least one conversation piece–like a record player, records, and a fedora, signifying Wendy Redbird Dancing’s obsession with vinyl and Michael Jackson–then people will stop and ask. In a big room filled with tables, book covers, and people, your display will stand out. (Mom gets all the credit here: great idea!)
If you’re an introvert about to chill with introverts, having some conversational tactics never hurts. Ask people who their favorite authors are, who they’re reading, where they live, and whether they are writers. People love to chat about their favorite subjects like books, and themselves. I can go on and on about myself but my display is already all about me. Let others hold forth, and find out what’s popular to them and what they want in a book.
You can see I’ve got business cards, bookmarks, and postcards in my display. Print reminders that follow a person home will encourage someone to buy your stories as gifts or to reach out to you later.
Having a simple 8.5 x 11 plastic holder with a price list is all you need to list the prices and get the word out so you’re not repeating yourself and allow those who don’t want to engage to get a quick sense of whether they want to invest.
You’ll also see a sign-up sheet for my newsletter. Every event, I increase my list by 4 to 10 people, and each one of them is less likely to unsubscribe because we have a connection.
Unless your voice is one with teacher power–and those vocal cords are in great shape–you’ll find your voice failing and water necessary.
Bring cash, bring a Square or another swiping device with your phone, and make it easy for folks to buy. Turns out, Square didn’t work for me and some other authors (thanks, Mercury in retrograde) so I was glad I had cash on hand.
Here’s a bonus tip. If your heart is one that loves only a few one-to-one interactions, and it’s stressful to do these events, remember that every reader has a heart glow for great words in the right order. Be grateful. Value every interaction you have with a reader, because each person is a chance to learn something about passion and craft. Try to be present and soak up that opportunity, and you will find your writing and your thinking spark the next time you hit the page.
After you take a long nap, of course.