March 4, 2011

Working a Table at a Convention

The last couple of days for my day job, I've been working a table at a grad fair.  You'd think it'd be mind-numbingly boring, but, you know, it wasn't.  It was long but not boring.  I'm inherently a people-person, and now that I have a few people skills, it's great just to talk with people!

But you know the greatest thing about this experience?  I thought a lot about ways to sell my book, when the time comes.  Lots of dos and don'ts of working a table.  It's the same things people like J.A. Konrath have been saying for a long time, but sitting there really drove it home. There was a great table over to the side that had the ROTC and AFROTC, and there were at least four people manning the table (three men and a woman) at all times and they looked like they were having fun and they had giveaways and they even walked around and introduced themselves.

So here's what I was thinking:
  • Try to create a party at your table.
  • Have cool giveaways. I was thinking of the cool cat pen you get from Hemingway's house in Key West. Also postcards of your books, book marks, any cool inexpensive toys you can think of, and so on.
  • Have treats or cookies.
  • Don't forget the kids - have stickers or something.
  • Talk with people as much as possible!
  • Have that quick pitch (one line about your book, the hook) handy, but don't necessarily lead with it.
  • Have a contest where people can sign up, thereby collecting their names for your email list.  Or at least have a place for people to sign up.
  • Have other calls to action.  Make sure your web address is on all handouts.
  • Be positioned near the door to the right - where people will naturally go first and have the most energy.  If you can't be to the right, be to the left.
  • Have lots of flair and stuff on your table.
  • If you can swing t-shirts as giveaways, do it!
  • Have your books there to sell.
  • Have a cool artfully designed short story as a giveaway.
  • Talk to the organization who's putting the event on for ideas.
  • Have something that people can take to fill out and mail in to get their email addresses or a handsigned book.
  • Stand.  If not in front of your booth, behind it.  Look approachable.  Do not hide behind a laptop or a book.  And don't bring a friend that will distract you. You're supposed to be talking to new people, not shutting everyone out by talking to your friend.  It's okay if there's a bunch of people and a party too.
  • Take time to mingle yourself, if you can.
  • It'd be cool to have a whole coordinated ad campaign with promo items and everything organized ahead of time. 
  • A banner that hangs over the front of your table is nice too.
  • See if you can schedule a reading or some other event at your table.
These were just a few of the thoughts that were running through my mind as I stood there and smiled and saw what other people were doing.

1 comment:

Melissa Crytzer Fry said...

Some excellent ideas, Tamara. Thanks. Hoping I can use them in the future ;-)