I was lucky enough to attend the Indie Authors Down Under conference last weekend, the first mass signing of independent authors in Australia (as far as I know). This event was held on the beautiful Gold Coast in Queensland, and really saw a large variety of authors and readers of all age groups and genres get together and do what we do best: talk about books, buy books, drool over books, and take photos with good looking cover models.
Amongst a large group of Amazon, USA Today and NY Times bestselling authors, with the likes of Abbi Glines, Jessica Shirvington and Kate McCarthy amongst them, I was certainly not a standout or a “must-visit” author, when it came to stands. And yet still, I managed to sell out of my collection of books, which is no mean feat as a rather new author with a very new book.
When it came to things that make me stood out, I think these are partial keys to my success:
Eye contact. When no one was at my stand, I didn’t just sit there and look at my phone. I had my head up, and as soon as someone walked past, I’d say hi. Not hi in a please buy my books way, or an I’m needy and might follow you home if you don’t stop way. Just your normal, run-of-the-mill hello, one with no strings attached. Nine times out of ten, the readers were just as happy to stop and talk to me as I was to have them there.
Fun promotional items. While I didn’t have some of the awesome promotional items for my book like some other authors attending did, I had one killer promotional item I got rid of before one hour of the event had passed. They were for my editing services, and without giving too much away, they flew off my table like hot sticks. Or something.
My point is, design and packaging is everything. If you can come up with a catchy gimmick or memorable image, people are likely to want to stick you in their handbag. Or on their fridge.
Commitment. This is one area where I fell down; after about 2pm, I got really restless and kept walking off to buy other people’s books. I’d always be able to see my stand, but as a solo author, not having someone there to yell ‘Lauren!’ as soon a reader loitered for more than the standard two seconds in front of my stand could have really set me back. I guess it’s a whole new meaning to the three-second rule.
Pre-orders. I took pre-orders for my books, and while I sold an extra 20 percent than I had aside, going in and knowing I had at least XX people who were guaranteed to hunt me down was a really great morale booster when the doors first open and people ran … not to my table, but to Abbi Glines’. It helped my keep my head high, and not cry the tears and pack up my stand right away. And I’m fairly sure that action would have resulted in a very unsuccessful event for me.
Lauren K. McKellar is a freelance fiction editor, and an author of contemporary romance New and Young Adult novels. Find out more about her and her books here.