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Write On! Features: Events (What You Didn’t Know, You Need To Know) by MD Neu

By MD Neu

Well, we’ve done it! We’re back to attending local and distant events. It’s been wonderful to get out there and see people, make contacts, sign and sell books, and have fun. Over the last couple of months, I’ve been to a few local events with plans for more to come. Today, I wanted to talk about all the things authors need to know, when we plan for, and go to events.


  • Create a Check List!!

  • Get yourself some business cards.

  • Make a bookmark with all your social media info on it (you can use this as a free giveaway).

  • Depending on where you live and what you’re doing, ensure you have a business licence (in the US). This is important and easy to get from your local government. Also, depending on the city you’re going to, you may need to get a seller’s permit for the day of the event. Some festivals will help you with this, but most don’t and it’s up to you to ensure you have everything you need in case the event management staff come by and ask you to show proof. It’s a pain, but a necessary evil. Luckily, this doesn’t cost much; it’s more of a ‘time suck’.

  • Get yourself some bins or boxes to carry your books and all your stuff.

  • Get yourself a trolley or a cart so you can easily bring everything to your booth in one trip. Don’t have a cart? Get something like this (click here).

  • If you have a newsletter bring something so folks can sign-up to join.

  • When it comes to payments, people are leaning more towards Venmo and PayPal. Make sure you have QR Codes (you can get this from their apps; download the app if you haven’t already) for people so they can scan and pay you.

  • People use cash, so make sure you provide change.

  • Get yourself a cashbox or a flip binder to keep the cash in (or your pocket works just as well).

  • Keep your book pricing simple. Round up to the nearest dollar (or pound) so you don’t have to fuss with change. Also, price your books to include tax so you don’t have to figure that out. For example, I sell my books at $15 and $20 and this price includes tax.

  • If you plan on taking credit cards, make sure you have everything you need to do that (Square works well and works with your cell phone, so it’s easy).

  • If you don’t have one, create an elevator pitch about your writing and your books. Here’s an example of mine:

M.D. Neu is an award-winning Queer author of Sci-Fi, Urban Fantasy and Paranormal stories, who wants to tell epic tales reflecting our diverse world.

All stories are based on ‘What-ifs?’

All stories take place in the San Francisco Bay Area.

All stories have a diverse cast of characters.

 Now for your books:

  • OK, so here’s the thing I’ve learned. You won’t have any idea what people will want to read, so if you’re going to be there on your own, take all your books (five to ten of each, depending on how many books you offer). If you have a series, bring more of the first book in the series, because folks will buy that (and maybe all the books in the series, but typically they will start with book one). Now, also regarding your books, if you’re going as part of a group, think about the others who will be there. You don’t want to be a space hog, so make sure you don’t make the group space all about you and your books. As authors, we need to support each other and help one another. A potential reader may not be interested in what you write, but they may really love something the others in your group write, so talk them up. Because what goes around comes around and you’ll want them to do the same for you!

  • If you’re going to a specific type of festival or conference, bring books that are in that genre, but bring some of your other works as well, because people read more than one kind of book.

Your booth:

  • When displaying your books, invest in some book stands. Here is a link where you can find tons of different types get what fits your budget and will work for you. As part of the book display, invest in a tablecloth (or bring one from home); solid colours work best.

  • For each of your books, create a slip sheet you can stick into the top of the book for folks to read (about a sentence or two). This way they don’t have to read the back cover if they don’t want to. It should be a teaser; something to get them interested, but not bog them down. Here’s an example of one of mine:

The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. The events of his past are finally behind him. But, true magic is gradually taking hold in the world and nothing in the Immortal Community is what he thought. Now enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. Who is lurking in the shadows? What does this mean for witches, immortals, and humans?

  • Depending on the setup (if you’re going to be outside), bring a canopy. Being out in the sun all day is rough and you’ll appreciate the shade. If you’re inside, a canopy can be a nice way to stand out.

  • If you have a banner or can get one, bring it, but you’ll also need twine or rope to hang it up (assuming that’s allowed).

  • A free-standing banner or sign is a nice marketing piece to have if it’s in your budget, but you don’t need one.

  • Swag. People love free stuff. You probably can’t bring candy or food (check with the event organisers), but buttons, pens, bookmarks, business cards, cards with a free download of your book, info cards about you and your books – you’ll be surprised what people will pick up and take away.

  • Clipboard. You want it to be easy for people to sign up for your newsletter.

  • Pens. Lots of pens (see the above about people taking stuff). It’s even better if your pens are branded.

  • If you plan on giving away anything, or holding a contest, have a flyer with that information. You should put it into a plastic stand of its own, so it doesn’t get messed up and people can easily see it.

Additional items to make your long day better:

  • Wear comfortable shoes and clothes. You’re going to be on your feet eight to ten hours, so you want to be comfy.

  • Bring water and snacks. If you’re there on your own, you’ll want to come prepared. Even if you go with a group, water and snacks are a big plus.

  • Bring a box, bag or bin with these things: pens, pencils, tape, larger binder clips (to keep your tablecloth from blowing away), paperclips, notepad, labels to price your books, extension cord (in case you can plug in for power), bandages, aspirin or Tylenol, markers, and any other small thing you think you may or may not need.

  • Smile and talk to people. This is hard, especially after a long day, but people won’t come up and talk to you if you aren’t engaging with them or smiling. Think about when you go to a store. Do you go up to clerks who aren’t smiling or look like they are too busy to ‘see’ you? You want to present as open and as welcoming a persona as you can. Practice in the mirror. Trust me, it’ll help.

  • Be prepared to talk to media. Create a press kit for yourself on the off-chance the media stops by and wants to chat. This does happen, so be prepared. Not sure what to put in a media kit? Check out this page here, to see what I have in mine.

  • We all want to sell all our books, but prepare yourself for the reality of not selling any! This happens, which sucks, especially after all the money and effort you put into the event. Take a breath and remember you are doing this for the exposure.

  • Bring a charging rod or brick for your cell phone (especially if you’re going to use your device to take payments).

If you’re going with a group of authors, here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Try to set up shifts (two to three hours) and have no more than four to six people in and around the booth at any one time. You don’t want it to look crowded. Sometimes having two people in the booth and two people outside the booth to talk to people works well.

  • Have an elevator pitch for each of the authors who are going to be in the booth, so you have a ‘cheat sheet’ for when you’re talking to potential readers.

  • Break down all the books by genre and not by author (unless you want to). This way, you can direct people to the genre they like to read and that way, they can see all the books on offer.

  • Use your time outside the booth to go around and talk to other authors or vendors. Or go and get some food. Breaks are nice and it’s good to get away from the booth, if you can.

  • Don’t be selfish. You are there as part of a team, so put in the same amount of effort you want others to put in for you. If you need a break, take it. If you don’t like talking to people, see what else you can do to help. If you’re there and only taking up space, consider doing your next event solo, because no one will want to do another event with you!

  • On the flipside, don’t make yourself a nuisance and don’t make the booth all about you. Step back and give others a chance to spotlight their work and talk to people. When you’re in a group setting, you all need to be there to support one another.

  • Most importantly, come early and help set up. If you can’t come early, plan on staying late to help tear down and clean up. This is really important.

This is not by any means a complete list of do’s and don’ts. What works for me may not work for you and all events are different. The above is to help you think through all that goes into an event. They can be a lot of fun, but they’re also a lot of work (before, during and after). I hope this information helps. Until next time, have a great week!


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As authors, we need to support each other and help one another. You don’t want to be a space hog!