But it was insane for me in LOTS of GOOD ways! I’ve grown so much as an author this year, this whole blog post is about all the exciting things I’ve accomplished, because why not celebrate the good things? Post contains affiliate links.
I always like to do a “looking back” post this time of year around my birthday.
I’m an optimist. But I struggled a lot this year, too, like everyone else in the world. Being pregnant during covid was an interesting journey, and I don’t think any of us will ever forget this year. But I don’t like to focus on the bad stuff.
I am an optimist. It does not seem too much use being anything else.
So first, here are some of my non-publication achievements:
– I learned how to cut my toddler’s hair! And nobody got hurt. Now if I only wanted to brave my own hair without messing it up…
– My Etsy shop did almost 400% better than 2019 (yep, 400%). If you didn’t know, I sell handmade papercut bookmarks. And I came very close to making 1,000 sales before I put it on vacation mode for maternity leave. Next year!!
– I had a baby!
– I gained several more wonderful editing clients and grew my freelance editing portfolio.
I’ve got a few things planned for 2021. I’m hoping to release 2 new books in the Everturn Chronicles. After that, well, who knows!
I hadn’t actually planned on releasing all of the books I did in 2020, and you can see how that turned out. I think originally it was just going to be the Writer’s Notebook, and The Storm King. But I had a golden moment in time with my toddler’s sleep schedule where I could write and do work during his nap and while he was in bed mornings and evenings.
Fortunately, as I was already a stay/work at home mom, my schedule didn’t actually change much this year. I just had less places to go/things to do with the toddler during his waking hours. I can’t wait until we can get out and about again, now with his little brother, too!
Have you ever wanted to write a book? Or are you an experienced writer, starting your next story?
Get your thoughts on paper by writing all your story ideas in this pre-organized journal.
This notebook is part blank journal, part guided story planner. There’s plenty of room for you to customize your notes, and enough guidance to help figure out your plot, characters, and publishing goals.
It’s your writer’s notebook. Now, go write your story.
It was a tough decision to finalize this cover. I had two very different designs to choose from. I tested the opinions of many writers I knew, and the response was overwhelming–the cover you see before you was the winner! Perhaps I’ll use the rejected cover for a later variation of the notebook (because I secretly love it).
But wait, you say, it’s only in paperback
True, the retailers will only have the paperback version. There WILL be an electronic version available, but since it’s going to be a PDF, it will be available through my Etsy shop once it’s released on May 12.
Since this is a journal intended to be written in, there is no point in making it a traditional ebook. Therefore, I’ve created a PDF which is capable of being used on one’s computer or tablet much the same way as one would use a paperback journal. Users will be able to write on the pages, and easily navigate from one section to another. And if you have a tablet and a stylus, you can even write on it by hand.
From indie authors to traditional–unless you’re JK Rowling–a big part of being an author is figuring out how to sell more books. Marketing, social media, etc…. I have found that for me, my biggest return on investment is in-person book events.
I’ve learned a lot of the logistics of doing book events in the past several years, and I want to share with other authors, so here goes!
1. The Basics
To do a book event you absolutely need two things in hand:
and a way to accept payments
Whenever I’m on my way to an event, and I’m experiencing that last-minute “what did I forget?” moment, I just ask myself: Do I have my books and my change? If the answer is yes, I pull out of the driveway.
The books: The hardest part is knowing how many books you will need, because you never know how many books you might sell. This is something you will only learn from experience–I have sold anywhere between 1-30 books at a single event, but for the most part average 10. Just try to prepare as best you can. Purchase them through your print-on-demand services (KDP or IngramSpark) if you’re an indie author, or through your publisher.
Budget how many books you can afford to have in your inventory. Books don’t go bad, but you’ll probably also be reporting them as inventory on your business taxes. You’ll also need to physically lug them to the event, so you might want to invest in some sort of cart. I have this one. And, of course, you’ll need to store them in between events.
Accepting payments: Part one of accepting payments is to first look into your state’s tax laws, and any other laws pertaining to selling items. Obtain any permits or licensing before doing an event. I won’t give you any advice on taxes.
Part two is the actual payment. You will want to have change on hand for cash purchases, so calculate how much you will need beforehand and go to your bank and get as many 1’s 5’s or 10’s you might need.
Accepting credit cards is exceedingly easy these days, and is likely to get you more sales than if you only accept cash. PayPal and Square both make card swipers you can plug into your phone. Generally, you’re getting hit with a small fee for each transaction, so make sure to factor that in with your recordkeeping.
2. Finding Events
The first event I ever attended was at my alma-mater: they were hosting an art show, and were looking for alumni who were authors to be part of it. I happened to get an email about it. The second event I attended was at a local library, with several other authors doing book signings–I found out about it from a newspaper clipping someone found for me.
The point here is that you can find events through almost any channel. These days, I find most things through Google, or Facebook to be honest. Join mailing lists, groups, and search for “local author event” or fairs in your area.
Libraries and book stores are the first places that probably come to mind for a book signing–Getting people to attend a single-author event, however, is a whole ‘nother topic. But feel free to branch out depending on your target market. I’ve even done flea markets, craft shows, anime conventions and renaissance faires. Those work for me because I write fantasy. Ask yourself, what events do you think your readers attend?
There is the table fee to consider. How many books do you need to sell to cover it? Are the event hours worth your time? If you know any other authors in your area, try partnering with them and sharing a booth to split the cost if it’s high.
3. The important part: Logistics
The amount of things you may or may not need will depend on the type of show, and how much or little you want to bring. Places like libraries and bookstores will generally provide tables and chairs, at the very least, whereas at an outdoor craft show you might need a pop-up tent to go with your setup.
No, you don’t need all of these things below. But maybe you want some of them. Figure out what’s important to you, and make your own list that you keep for each event so you can check things off while packing!
Here’s a list, in no particular order, of things I suggest to have (besides your books & change):
Tent/Tent Weights if needed
Tarp for outdoor events (useful for saving books in the rain)
Various supplies: tape, duct tape, rubber bands, binder clips, Purrell wipes, tissues, hand warmers, scissors. (Can you tell I used to be a Stage Manager?)
4. Event Day
Now, you’ve been getting ready for this day for a while now, and it’s finally here! First: be early. Whether it’s the library, or the several thousand people market, there are many reasons to be early, and you certainly don’t want to get stuck in traffic, parking, or be late setting up. I like to pack my car the night before, if I can. Second: do you have your books and change?
A few HONEST tips, for once you’ve set up:
Try to look approachable. Smile, if that’s your thing. Stand, if that’s your thing. Don’t play with your phone a lot. Be aware of how you seem–would YOU want to approach your table?
Take pictures of your setup, or event signage, and put it out on all of your social media channels to let everyone know you’re there. Hopefully you have also shared and posted that you’re attending this event a good amount before the actual event as well.
Prepare an “elevator speech”–a quick, 30 second synopsis explaining your book.
Don’t be disappointed. Not everyone likes to read, or not everyone may like your genre. Or someone who might love your book might not be able to afford it. So hand out lots of business cards or postcards.
Make friends with the other vendors/authors/staff. Useful for when you need to leave your table to go to the bathroom/get food/go to your car.
Don’t pack up early. This is a big pet peeve of mine because it drives customers away from all the vendors. Besides, you might miss out on those sales! Even when I’m packing up, the last thing I pack is the books. I’ve had other vendors buy books from me when it was breakdown time.
If you do an event outside, plan to deal with the weather. There are some things you can do to prepare, but sometimes there is nothing you can do. If you have a tent, you can get walls to attach to it, to keep out rain and sun. You can also get weights to keep your tent from leaving the ground (highly recommend!). You can wear rain boots.
There is a lot that goes into doing an in person event, but I have to be honest, that feeling of signing your book and handing it over to a reader is awesome. Isn’t that why we all do this?
I will be honest and say that I am better with words coming out of my hands than my mouth, BUT sometimes you just need to get yourself out there if you want to get your books into more reader’s hands!
Do you sell at markets and events? What kinds of things do you bring?