I promised my fellow Chicks a recap of my first “live” author promo event on Saturday, and since it’s my turn to blog, I thought I’d share my experience with everyone. Maybe it will be helpful to some newbie authors out there, especially those with e-book series. If not, well, there is a cute animal pic at the end.
This was the eighteenth New Hampshire Women’s Expo, held at the Radisson in Manchester. They have a great turnout every year and 2016 was no exception. I was excited to receive an email from our Sisters in Crime New England president, Sharon Daynard. Would I be interested in taking a shift at the booth—and selling/signing books? Absolutely!
Of course, I did face a few challenges. My first mystery, CARDIAC ARREST, came out in November and my second, PERMANENTLY BOOKED (both titles in The Ladies Smythe & Westin series) will pub in (yikes!) three weeks. I’m an author with Carina Press/Harlequin and my books are available in e-format only.
No physical books? No problemo. I signed up with Authorgraph, which allows e-book authors to send readers personal messages with handwritten autographs. I also ordered rush bookmarks and polished up the Ladies Smythe & Westin pens I give out at conferences. In lieu of an actual book display, I placed a spiffy congrats card/cover proof my publisher sent of CARDIAC ARREST in a Plexiglas, stand-up holder. Yay. All set, or so I thought.
My bookmarks didn’t arrive on time from the discount online printer and I made a panicked 4 pm-on-a-Friday run to Premier Printing, our local print shop, who very nicely made me up a last-minute batch from my files. (Note to self: Print Local.)
Then, ten minutes before I was due to leave for my 2 pm shift, I discovered the “conference” outfit from last spring I’d planned to wear was suddenly too big—how did that happen? I quickly pulled on a pair of corduroys and red cowboy boots, because hey, this is NH, land of casual comfort and Live Free or Die. No need to be mistaken for a news anchor.
Upon my arrival at the convention hall, I begged a friendly passer-by to take my pic with the conference banner in the background. (These types of interactions are always a good icebreaker, and often semi-comical.)
The expo was jammed, with just about every available product and service for women. I did get a chance to walk around a bit before I checked in for my shift. The Sub-Zero Ice Cream booth got my attention right away. Who knew that liquid nitrogen made ice cream taste even more amazing?
I spotted a lovely, flower-covered arch and thought it was a wedding planner’s display, so I hustled over in case I could pick up any tips for my fellow Chick, Marla Cooper, whose book TERROR IN TAFFETA pubs in about a week. Turns out it was the entrance to the very busy wine garden. I steeled myself against this temptation and ran into my former boss from Girl Scouts on the way out. That happens a lot in NH.
The Sisters in Crime New England booth looked fabulous, thanks to our president and Joy Seymour. Three veteran authors were doing brisk business with their titles, and I stood carefully to the side (so as not to block anyone’s view of their beautiful covers and swag) and tried to learn how it was done. One of these amazing authors had a lovely thank-you note to readers that she tucked inside every purchase, with gentle bullet points suggesting reviews on Amazon or Goodreads and offering social media connection options.
I had a blast manning the booth with my fellow author M.E. Kemp. We chatted up people who stopped and offered a plate of lovely Italian bakery cookies. Wrapped, of course, because that’s the rule, unless you have a special license.
We also pointed people toward the beautiful raffle basket Joy created with everyone’s books. I included a promo mug that I use for giveaways, since I don’t have physical books (I considered tucking in an e-book gift cert also, but without the winner’s email address you need to use a physical card—and they have relatively hefty minimum dollar amounts).
During lulls in traffic, I got to chat with my fellow authors, which was the best part of the conference. I learned that Sisters in Crime has in the past been mistaken for a prison outreach network—and also (my favorite) an organization for mystery-writing nuns!
We packed up a little early, as a closing ceremony was underway for Twenty Outstanding Women and one of NH’s two female senators, Kelly Ayotte, was also speaking. All in all, it was a fun and productive day—I may even have sold a few books. But the cool thing is, with ebooks, who knows? I’ll have a few more chances to hone my promo skills at upcoming conferences and maybe even a farmer’s market or two…but I’m looking forward to next year’s Expo!
Oh, and by the way, here’s that cute animal pic I promised. From Miles Smith Farm, meet the amazing Pigasus!
So, readers, who wants to share an offbeat promo venue, tip, or story? Spill in the Comments section below!