Tuesday, May 17, 2016

All Dressed Up by Betsy Ashton

The summer season is upon us, bringing book signings and festivals where we can display and sell our books. A few words of advice may be needed to remind us of what all we need to do.

You need a checklist of everything that needs to be in your car.

  • Books, plenty of books
  • Bling, be it book marks, postcards, door hangers (something with your name and the books' names on it)
  • Candy in a dish (not chocolate if your event is in the summer)
  • Pens to sign books
  • A cash box and plenty of singles or fives to make change
  • A placard with the "event special" prices
  • Posters of your books
  • A business card holder
  • Stands to hold the books
  • A sign-up sheet for your newsletter
  • A table and a cover for it
  • A canopy if you are outdoors to shield from sun/rain
  • A chair
I write mysteries. I know many of my readers love Castle. So, a couple of years ago, my husband gave me a Castle vest for Christmas. It's hot, so in the middle of summer I drape it over the chair. (I never sit behind my table.) The vest is a reader magnet. Women, mostly, will come over and chat about the TV show before they buy a book. Since I'm a fan, it's easy to engage in conversation. 

I wrap Crime Scene tape around the top of the table. 

I usually work with at least one other writer. We've been doing this so long that we know each other's books and patter. We cross-sell all the time.

With this all in mind, two weekends ago my dear friend and fellow mystery writer, Sally Roseveare, and I packed up my car and took off for Danville, VA to Brewed Awakening, a coffee house that had recently opened in the historic tobacco warehouse district. We knew the owners from a previous coffee house over in Martinsville, so when Bonnie Hale posted that she was doing the spring festival, we jumped at the chance. 

Perfect location in the historic district. Book sellers lined up along the sidewalk on either side of the coffee house across the street from ample parking at a community market. A wine festival was across the street in the market. Sally brings a stuffed black Lab, because one is featured in her Smith Mountain Lake mystery series. A kid magnet if there ever was one.

We were all dressed up and ready for the festival. 

We weren't expecting rain. Even with the canopy, mist blew in and dampened our table. There is nothing like liquid of any kind to ruin our product. We baled. Rain drove the street traffic away too. 

We'll be back again next year, weather and time permitting. Next time, we'll do a sun dance. We've had enough rain...

What else did I forget?

Betsy Ashton is the author of Mad Max, Unintended Consequences, and Uncharted Territory, A Mad Max Mystery, now available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please follow me on my website, on TwitterFacebook and Goodreads.



Margo Hoornstra said...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Thanks for the advice, and good luck for next year!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Selling eBooks saves me from all that, thank God. Once I self-publish some back titles, I suppose I'll have to think about doing events like that since I'll have paperbacks in hand. I'm glad you enjoy doing those things, in dryer weather of course.

Rolynn Anderson said...

Nice check list, Betsy. It's really fun to do the book signings with pals. I've joined Sisters of Crime...10 of us are selling our books at a local winery on a Sunday. Your WRITER vest is a brilliant touch!

Betsy Ashton said...

Yes, Rolynn, ya gotta love the WRITER vest. It's a total magnet for female readers. I let them try it on and take a selfie with them. And then they buy a book!

Betsy Ashton said...

Vonnie and Margo, I do enjoy these outings, even when I don't sell a boatload of books. I get a chance to listen to what readers are saying. And the best sales agents for me are my fellow writers at my table or readers who rush up to tell me how much they enjoyed my book.

Jannine Gallant said...

Excellent points. I haven't done a book signing in a few years. I live in a small town. The first one I did was a huge success because "Jannine the Author" was a novelty.(Excuse the pun. LOL) After that, not so much. My "drive to" events didn't pay for gas in sales. I need to find the right venue with a receptive crowd, but those always seem to cost a lot of money to have a booth. One of these days, maybe I'll get motivated to try again.

Betsy Ashton said...

I won't pay for my space unless I'm assured I'm sharing the costs with another writer or two, Jannine. Otherwise, I don't make back gas money. With a book launch coming up very soon, I'll be back at the local venues this summer. I need to expand my reach, and do most of that via social networking, not in person signings.

Alicia Dean said...

I can't think of anything you forgot. What an awesome list. I've never sold a ton of books at signings, but I do enjoy them when I do them with other authors. Thanks for sharing!

Leah St. James said...

I usually share with other writers, too, Betsy. And we cross-promote all the time. Great list! Are you applying to the Williamsburg Book Festival in October? I think sign-ups end in another week or so...I think.

Diane Burton said...

Your list is great, Betsy. The idea of an outdoor book festival is intriguing. I am participating in an indoor one in July. My first time here, so I'll see how this goes. Love doing signings with other authors. More fun!