Last month the UK Indie Lit Fest took place in Bradford, West Yorkshire, in the north of England. This author convention was a free event, with over 40 indie authors attending. The event included writing classes, author readings, activities for children, and the chance for readers to talk to best-selling authors around the world via scheduled Skype calls. The author convention was well attended, it was brilliant to meet so many other authors and readers, and I thoroughly enjoyed the day!
My tips for authors attending their first author convention
- Have your business cards ready to hand out to people stopping by. One excellent tip I learned in Bradford is to get a barcode printed up on your cards so that readers can go straight to your books online from the app on their phones. Check out K.S. Marsden’s card in the photo below
- If you can afford it, have some giveaways or “swag” to give free with your books. Bookmarks or postcards can go down well if you have great cover artwork, but my tip is to try and think of something more unusual. My author friend Marie Laval has a book set in Provence. She brought along some sachets of lavender and some cute little scented soaps. These were very popular – and the delicious scent attracted a lot of people!
- For my own “swag”, I bought some bookmarks from Glitterama Crafts on Etsy and customised them with ribbons and beads. They looked lovely on the stall!
- If you’re giving a reading, a workshop or a talk at the event, make sure to practise, practise, practise your timings before you go. If you’re at all nervous – and pretty much everyone gets nervous giving a talk – if you’ve practised it well, the words will flow much more easily. Also, as soon as you’ve set up your stall, make sure the room where you’re giving the talk has all the equipment set up and ready for you.
- Interact with people at the convention. We authors are often shy people – but remember, readers are often equally shy, and will almost certainly be waiting for you to make the first move. When someone passes your stall, smile, and if they make eye contact, thank them for coming to the convention, and ask them if they’ve had to travel far. People like to talk about themselves. I’m not a salesperson and I’m British and a writer – three qualities that often make people feel awkward and diffident about pushing themselves forward! If you’re like me and struggle to promote your own books, asking people questions about themselves is a great way to get a conversation going, and even if that person doesn’t buy your book that day, they will remember you.
A reader’s tips for authors
And now let’s go round the other side of the stall for some tips from book blogger Emma Mitchell :)
- As a blogger and avid reader, I have attended many bookish events over the years and I love them. I think the most important thing for me has always been the interaction with the authors. There is nothing more pleasing for a reader than to have had a chat with an author they love and admire, or a new, to them, author. I also have a massive love for bookish merchandise too!
- Everybody needs book marks and I know many readers have some amazing collections, myself included, of postcards, tote bags, pens, fridge magnets, book cups, and even tablet stylus pens!
- Interaction at these events doesn’t have to be all about the “hard sell”, just talking to the author will make a massive difference to me, but you can try and sell me your book, by all means do, after all, I am at the event to buy books, meet authors I want to meet, and discover new authors.
- I also find that the events where there are author talks are brilliant. Whether it be an author offering a workshop on an aspect of the writing world or a Q&A about their work, both are wonderful ways for readers and bloggers to understand the world of being an author a lot better.
- With my “blogger” head on, I find that the authors who do interact are those who get more blog space. If I attend an event and am ignored by an author (and by that, I mean they don’t show any intention of interacting with me when I am stood at their table/stall) then I will be less inclined to feature them and their work on my blog. It is also likely that I will tell other bloggers about this negative experience and trust me, bloggers stick together, we have a universal black-list of naughty authors! You don’t want to be on that list! 😉
- I think, the best advice I could offer to an author going to an event, interact, please, the people there want to speak to you, you aren’t an annoying sales person knocking on their front door at 9.00 p.m. in the evening and spoiling their night, they have come to see you, to buy your book, to have a chat. Interaction and nice pens are the key in this blogger/reader’s opinion!
Thanks so much, Emma, for dropping in with your interesting perspective. (Emma also has a thoughtful post here on the subject Do We Expect Too Much of Authors?)
I hope you’ve found our tips useful!
And finally, if you’re lucky enough to be able to attend the LoveNVegas event in America in October (how I wish!) here are some Las Vegas travel deals for the best flight and hotel packages. If you do attend, please drop by afterwards and let us know how it went!