Guest post by Lance Taubold of 13THIRTY BOOKS

From Lance:

One more book event.

This time it was a library book fair for the Clark County libraries in Las Vegas. There were three of us at a table: Adam Fenner, Rich Devin, and myself, representing six books and our company, 13Thirty Books.

It was a beautiful sunny Saturday in March. (Of course, it was sunny. It’s Las Vegas.) The event was well attended, being split up into three sessions of one-and-a-half hours each. We were the middle session. I thought that way we could get the holdovers from the first session as well as those coming early for the third session. It worked out well.

The problem with library events is that there are more lookers than buyers. I’m not sure why. My guess is that people who go to the library are more accustomed to borrowing.

But we sallied forth with our guerilla-marketing tactics: a very well-appointed table set up for eye-catching appeal that included colorful tablecloths, book display racks, and a large laptop playing the trailer and showing videos for On Two Fronts. The table looked great. We had all dressed appropriately and stood (not sat) behind and to the sides of our table so that prospective buyers could easily see the display and be ready to talk to us and ask about our books.

Our table was always active and moving. Standing and mingling gives an air of excitement that people are drawn to. Other tables around us, where the authors sat complacently at their tables, had minimal activity—and their lack of sales reflected this. One author to the left of us grew increasingly irritated at the amount of furor we were causing and ended up packing up and leaving early. What she should have done was engaged us and let our energy bleed into her sales. She chose not to. Sold no books. And probably went home and complained to her husband about the obnoxious guys who were next to her and stole all of her business.

At a recent convention we attended in New Orleans (see a previous blog) we were seated next to bestselling author David Morrell. Instead of getting all flustered and agitated over his massive attendance, we chose to jump on board and talk to those in line waiting to speak to him. Outcome: more sales than we could ever have hoped. (We even sold more books than Mr. Morrell. Of course, he did sell out of his stock on hand.) A valuable lesson learned.

Now, at this book fair, we sold a few books at POS (point of sale), but more importantly, we talked to people about our books. Our table was always active and it looked as though business was booming for us. Perception is very important. Even if you don’t sell a lot of books, people will talk about you if it appears you are an active, engaging, and successful author.

After our session, we spent our time networking. We went around to the various authors’ tables of the third session and talked to the authors who had good displays or outstanding book covers.

We met several prospective authors for our company, sold a few more books of our own, gave out business cards, learned about more upcoming events, and made some new friends. We even met an author who is in charge of an upcoming convention which we were thinking of attending. After speaking with her, we will not only be attending, but we will be featured on several panels and have a higher profile at the convention as a result.

That is the success of attending these book fairs. It is not about selling a few copies of your book; it is about getting your name out there, meeting new people who may be able to help you, and observing the successful authors’ tables and why they are successful so that you can walk away with knowledge that you never would have gleaned, or understood, from reading about. Experience is the best teacher in this case.

So, for your next book signing event: go prepared. Prepare to spend part of the time selling your wares and part of your time learning how you can improve for the next time.

Have a plan for your event and set some goals. A book fair may not be the best place to sell books, but it can be a great place to network, which can be immensely important for selling books in the future.

Remember: you can always learn something, and that puts you one step ahead of your fellow authors who would rather complain than do something about it.

–Lance Taubold