You’ve just been invited to an author festival at a bookstore. Congratulations! This is a great way to connect with readers. The next question is, what do you bring with you? Here’s a list of essentials to pack in your event kit.
1. Books. (Obviously.) But here are other points to consider—are you traditionally published or independently published? If you have a publisher, the bookstore may need to order books in advance rather than have you bring copies with you. How many copies should you bring? It’s a good idea to speak with both your publisher and the store about this. You’ll also need to know about payment. Will your publisher provide an invoice? Will the bookstore give you a check or send one to your publisher? If you end up transporting books yourself, I highly recommend a small cart or a carry-on suitcase with wheels. A stack of 20 books can get heavy, especially if you have to park a long distance from the store.
2. Bookstand. You’ll need a way to display your book, but you don’t have to use a standard bookstand. You can be creative and use something that captures the vibe of your book.
3. Tablecloth. Most of the time, a bookstore will provide you with a table and chair, but you might want to bring a colorful or graphic tablecloth to attract readers to your space. You might also invest in a banner printed with your name. I attached Velcro to a black tablecloth that I use to display a colorful banner that reflects my chosen genre. It’s easy to pack and easy to set up. For October events, I place a scarf on top that has a fun skull pattern.
4. Bookmarks. Sometimes readers may be interested in your book, but may not be ready to buy. Have something readers can take with them, like a bookmark, postcard, business card, or keychain. Be sure to include contact information for your website, social media links, or where readers can purchase your book.
5. Giveaway. You might consider doing a drawing to entice readers or add them to your newsletter list. You could have readers put their name and email address on a slip of paper and place it in a jar. You can then draw the name of the winner and send them a prize, like an eBook. You could also have a small bowl of candy available to draw interest.
6. Conversation starter. Another way to attract readers is to have a conversation piece to pique their interest. One of my books features a raven named Brarn as a character, so I purchased a Halloween decoration that looks like a taxidermied raven, secured him to a wooden stand, and glued moss and rocks around his feet, similar to something you’d see in a Victorian curiosity cabinet. He’s been a great event companion—people often ask if he’s real and if they can pet him. For October events, I like to switch him out with a skeleton owl.
Bonus. Don’t forget to bring pens, paper, your cell phone or a camera for photos, and an elevator speech so you can quickly describe your book to potential readers. If you’ll have the opportunity to speak to an audience, you can bring an excerpt to read. Depending on the event, you might need to bring change or a portable way to charge credit cards like Square. Most of the time, a bookstore will handle sales though, so this applies more to events like holiday fairs.
If you’ve done a book event, what other items do you recommend bringing?
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
MELISSA ESKUE OUSLEY is an award-winning author of young adult fiction. Her first book, Sign of the Throne, won a 2014 Eric Hoffer Book Award and a 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award. Her third book, The Sower Comes, won a 2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award. Her fourth book, Sunset Empire, debuted in the bestselling young adult boxed set, Secrets and Shadows. Her new suspense novel, Pitcher Plant, was released May 2017. She has edited fiction for Barking Rain Press and contributes monthly articles on writing, editing, and book marketing to BookDaily.com. She is a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association.