I had been super nervous about going to Fanboy Expo! My books are mostly romance, with some fantasy, action & adventure, and other genres sprinkled in. I was also worried that our booth would like amateurish. I’m glad I was wrong!
My Pretty Booth!
We had to re-arrange a little to improve seeing the bookmarks and stickers, but it worked out!
My first favorite moment was our first sale! A gentleman bought a book for his wife, Magan, and it was Mistress Giselle! Mistress Giselle is probably my most favorite of all the stories we are writing. It also confirmed my guess that people would buy for their significant others!
The second moment, which is one that made me tear up, is when Tina purchased all six books in paperback! We offered a bundle deal, where you could pay $50.00 and get all six books. She totally made the show worth it!
My third favorite moment is when a rather young Captain America gave me his best pose for a Rolf sticker! He was absolutely adorable!
Level of Success!
Let’s talk some turkey! This show was a big success for me. I made the cost of the booth back, and a decent profit above that. The booth cost $196.00 after taxes. I made $345.00 in total sales and gave away one hardback to a publishing company in trade to their paperbacks. I gave away an eBook to each booth around us, but the eBooks are pure profit for us at this point. I will have to rethink the eBooks for future shows if the book is on Kindle Unlimited.
How do you have eBooks for sale at the show?
I have the eBook available via BookFunnel. With my subscription there I am able to print redeemable codes. I set the price, and the users get a postcard with the book cover, blurb, and QR Code to redeem the book. It allows them to download a file they can load in their kindle. It’s a fun way to sell the digital and I autograph the cards.
But didn’t you spend a lot more in supplies for the show?
I did! However, all the purchases listed below are inventory I can use in the future, so it is a cost to the business, and not against the show cost. I was able to spread this cost over months in preparation. Anything that did not get used at this show is already purchased for the next show, and that lowers the cost over time.
- Clear holders for the books – $10/each (6 total) – I think they were on sale the night we got them. I would shop around for the best price too. Amazon has them bundled.
- Whimsical looking book stands 4/$13.99 (2 packs purchased)
- Reusable bags – $40.99/80 bags
- Swag bags – 100/$12.99 – These will become subscriber swag bags as we need something slightly longer for the bookmarks at shows.
- Labels for eBooks – 150 labels/$8.39
- Chairs – $50/each (2 purchased) – I have a hard time standing from low chairs and these were THE BEST
- eBook Post Cards – $26.60/50 cards – I got 5 x 7 size, but after trying to find stands for them I recommend 4 x 6! (shop print places, I use Vista Print)
- Vella Business Cards – $25/100 cards – I only made these for active Vellas for this show. Moving forward, I will remove the story tags and transform them into business cards for all stories. I -really liked how these looked. They are tiny 2 x 2 inch rounded squares! I use Vista Print as they are prettier to look at. Zazzle delivered at breakneck speed (overnight) but their cards were not as pretty as the Vista Print ones.
- Bookmarks – $45.99/100 – ORDER MORE THAN 100! I came home with 3 bookmarks and that is only because they were hidden in the bags for when people purchased. These double as my business card, with a QR code to my site, and info about me. People swiped them like they were candy! I used the Vella cards when I ran out of bookmarks.
- Table Cloth – $20/each – I purchased 2 but only needed one for the table I had. You want it to be long enough to go to the floor in the front, but not drape much on the side you are sitting on. I will be making a table running to cover the sides of the table and hold the banner. We had to use Velcro at this show, but I want something more permanent, and prettier than the gray.
- Banner – $31.40/each – 1 Fabric Banner 1.7 x 3 ft.
- Dry Erase Board – $7.99/each – I got this tiny one 12 x 12, but you may want a different size depending on what you want to put on it for your show!
- Water/Snacks – About $25 – We got a case of bottled water plus granola bars, graham crackers, cookie bites, and nutrigrain bars. Having water on hand saved my voice! It also prevents me drinking soda, tea, and other things throughout the day. Con food is EXPENSIVE.
- Hardbacks – About $10/book – I ordered 10 of each book, so $600 for all six. Via author copies on KDP
- Paperbacks – About $5/book – I ordered 10 of each book, so $300 for all six. Via author copies on KDP
NOTE: I had about $500 in gift cards to Amazon and used those to buy the books.
- Stickers – Price Varies by Choices – I use StickyBrand. I used MakeSticker for my Awoo! stickers but the quality and price is better with StickyBrand! Go to the Facebook Ad Library and find them there, you’ll get great deals! I paid about $20/100 stickers! I spent about $250 for all 12 stickers I sell.
- Bookmarks – I made these! I made 33 for the show. So these only took my time. I already had the yarn for my other business.
- InkJoy Pens – $14.99/pack – We bought 2 packs. I love these pens and it’s fun to let the person buying your book pick the color of their autograph
- Wagon – Varies – We didn’t have to buy this as my sister had one and let us borrow it. But we will be upgrading to this one for hard flat surface underneath.
Every person is different and will have different approaches to doing any task. I am not new to selling items at an event. I am new to selling as my own product / by myself. Mr. F helped me at the show, and while he pimps my stuff amazingly well, he did a few things that might have hurt a couple of sales. So, we talked about how to present each book, and how I would prefer it be talked about.
For example, Mistress Giselle is the story of a Midwest girl who goes to NYC, ends up being a stripper and gets roped into the mob world. He was pitching the “turned stripper” part. Well, that is off-putting to people who might be a little gun shy to admit they were into the kink at a public forum like the expo. So we worked on how we presented it.
Or knowing which book to present when the audience is younger. Fall of Avalon is the only young adult friendly book I have. It’s about the same level as Harry Potter 4, or 5 and Ben hadn’t realized My Viking Alpha was too adult for under 18. It’s not (in my opinion) but it does have sex scenes, which puts it at an R rating on the movie scale.
Here is the list Mr. F and I put together for future shows:
- Order what you need to order EARLY! I was sweating it because I ordered The Night Rangers on 10/28 and the hardbacks did not arrive until 11/12 in the afternoon. So I couldn’t sell hardbacks until 11/13.
- Sleep the night before setup and throughout the show! I know it’s tempting to enjoy ALL THE THINGS at a show, but remember, you have to spend the day working to sell your stuff, and lack of sleep will affect that.
- Most shows do not assist with loading/unloading/setup. Get someone to help you! Or invest in tools to help you move your entire setup on your own.
- Charge all your tech! Take phone chargers, battery charge packs, and even extras. Every night, even if not low, charge your stuff to 100% so it’s available during the entire show!
- If you have bags to give people when you sell stuff, pre-bag it with your swag (bookmark, business card, promo materials) so all you have to do is put the book they bought in the bag and hand it to them.
- If you work besides your writing, take the day of setup, all days of the show, and the day after off. I know that might not be possible for everyone, but you will be exhausted and stressed. Be kind to yourself.
- Order way more promo bookmarks than you think you need. I only ordered 100 and am now out of them!
- Take bottled water and snacks to keep at your booth with you. Especially if you do not have a booth buddy.
- I recommend using a tablet with your credit card taking option. I use PayPal Here and Zettle. My phone worked great, but because I require a signature on credit card transactions I had to let lots of other people touch my phone. With a tablet dedicated to be POS, it would have been better.
- Take Inventory! Inventory everything at setup, and at the end of each day of the show. This will help you know how much money you actually made for the day and will also see if anything walked away.
- Record your give away items. I did some networking and gave away a single hardback, along with stickers. When I went to inventory, I was able to keep from freaking out because we tracked them all down.
- If there are two of you, be careful to not cross the table talking to people. Mr. F did this a couple of times in his enthusiasm and it becomes awkward.
- Practice your super quick book pitches. You only have about 5 to 10 seconds to hook a person. So work on how you would describe your book in two sentences, or less.
- Write person’s name on post-it first. I used a lined post-it note to write the person’s first name down. This allows you to verify you spell it correctly before you put it in your book.
Be the Carnival Barker!
As funny as it sounds, this is probably the most critical piece of advice I could give to any new author/vendor at shows. I can’t tell you how many times at gen-con I see artists/authors sitting and playing on their phones, or not on their phones, but silently watching people walk by without saying a word.
I don’t stop at those booths. I bet you don’t either.
The booths that get me are the ones where someone says something to me, lures me in, or puts something in my hands to force me to stop strolling by.
People react to you, and you are the brand, not your books. If you are on your phone, silent, frowny faced, or grouchy, it will project to the crowd.
Mr. F and I are super big introverts and had to put on the “show face”. We smiled all day long. As people passed by we asked them what their favorite genre/author/books were. We said hello to the middle of the aisle lookers, and put out our enthusiasm of it being my first show.
Engaging people won me more sales. When they would give a weird genre they didn’t think we had (horror romance) and then we told them about the story that did have that, they came to the table and engaged further.
Selling Kindle Vella to the “non-readers” resulted in those people picking up the Vella cards and being excited about the idea of being able to read stories without being intimidated by whole books.
I was also able to talk about Alexa being able to read my stories because they are on Kindle for the people who would say they can’t read any longer because of visual issues. I was also able to sell a book because I showed them the font and size I use in my books. I use Sitka at 12pt font, which is larger, but not considered large print.
But this part was the critical part. Being active, and engaged, won me more sales. As hard as it was to not play on Facebook. I made the conscious decision to not look at my phone other than to ring up transactions while the vendor hall was open.
To everyone who came out and supported me at the show, cheered me on, and talked me down when I had a panic attack before the show, thank you! You, my lovelies, are what makes this dream possible for me. I can’t wait to see you at my next show. If you know of any kind of con near you and you’d like me to try for, leave a comment!