I attended my first author event at a public library last Saturday as an author. I’ve attended them as a reader before and always enjoyed them. This one not so much.
It was in a neighboring town. When I signed up I didn’t realize that the time an author could display and sell their books was one hour only. Such a disappointment. The reason, the entire event took place in only one room. After a speaker, the room was set up for the author’s signings, then the room was cleared and set up for a workshop and so on. I’ve attended a similar event in the past at my local library that gave the authors a room to vend their wares through the entire event. Had I understood exactly how the event was set up I wouldn’t have signed up.
Statistically, people purchase more stuff near the end of an event. I think, the room of 20 authors had all total 2 or 3 books sold in that hour. (I suspect it was author purchases.) It was poorly attended by the public, partly the horrid weather that day and partly being in the basement. I imagine most of these authors may not return. I know if it is run this way again next year I won’t.
Well planned library author events have separate rooms for author workshops and classes so books are available for sale all day. This way authors can interact with library visitors who happen to walk by the event. Library patrons are more likely to stop by and discover new authors with a more visual set-up.
If I were running this sort of event here’s what I would do.
A room with great visibility for the author fair. Clear signs with times of various workshops.
Door prizes provided by the authors to help engage the public in the event.
Lots and lots of promotion on social media, in the newspaper, radio, podcasts and signs all over town.
Two positives to this approach.
- Great exposure for local writers. Providing them with a chance to get their books in front of a new audience. People are fascinated to know local authors. This provides a great opportunity for writers to expand their fan base.
- Readers who purchase books on-line might be surprised at what they find at the library as they attend to discover new authors. Libraries need patrons and the next generation isn’t as drawn to the library as their parents and grandparents. A successful event creates more patrons.
That said, would I attend more of these events?
During the time before the doors were open to the public I networked with the other writers. I found out lots of helpful information. Discovered writers to interview on my blog. And made connections that will grow my author career. One woman paid me a high compliment. “The one good thing about today was meeting you.”
I want to do more of these events next year. Now I’ll be more discerning and ask questions before I sign up for an event. I’ll seek feedback from others who have attended. Then I’ll go prepared to sell books but expect to meet people and network. It’s a win win. And BTW my expenses for the event are tax deductible.
What has been your experience at library author events or book fairs? Any other events you found worth-while attending where you had good book sales?