Thursday, October 09, 2014

How to Prep for Author Events

By Julie Musil, @juliemusil

Part of the Indie Author Series

Author events are fun for traditionally published authors and indie authors alike. Most readers don’t care who published a book, they simply care about a good story. Author events are a great way to connect with the reading public.

When participating in an author showcase or book signing, it’s smart to think ahead.

Here are some prep tips:

Create a print book. If you haven’t already done it, I’d highly recommend making your book available in print. I wrote a blog post here at Fiction University outlining why I think print books are necessary in the digital age. Author events are one of the main reasons.

Order a supply of print books well in advance of your author event. Yes, authors are out that initial investment until they sell those books, but if they order a reasonable amount of books they’ll recoup those costs quickly. I do NOT order hundreds of books and stack them in my garage. I usually order 20 copies of each book at a time, depending on the event.

Spread the word. Let people know where you’ll be and when. If there’s a flier for the event, post that on social media. Sometimes people will wait to buy the book until they can buy it in person and get an autographed copy. Give them the opportunity.

Create bookmarks. They’re inexpensive, and most readers love them. I do! I ordered my bookmarks through and was happy with the results. You can sign bookmarks and tuck one into each book. My covers, blurbs, and web site are printed on each bookmark, letting readers know about my books and where to find me. I think of bookmarks as quasi-business cards. Which brings me to my next point.

Bring business cards. If I had to choose between ordering business cards or bookmarks for author events, I’d choose bookmarks. Mainly because they’re more visual and useful for readers. However, I already have business cards printed, which I keep in my bag, so I bring those to author events as well.

Bring candy. Want to encourage readers to stop by your table? Yes, have a stack of professionally edited books with pretty covers, but also bring on the chocolate! I like to have yummy chocolates and fruit flavored candy, like Jolly Ranchers, on hand.

Bring a good signing pen. Readers will want your signature. I like to use pens that create a strong signature without bleeding through the page--mainly a thin-tipped Sharpie.

Newsletter sign up sheet. Whether or not you currently have a newsletter, it’s wise to collect email addresses while you have the opportunity. Make sure readers know they’re signing up for non-spammy notices about book releases, promotional sales, etc.

Credit card swipe for a smart phone. Sometimes authors are responsible for handling money from their book sales. Most people carry little to no cash with them, but you don’t have to lose sales because you can’t process credit. I ordered a free swipe from They collect pennies from each sale, which is fine with me. Receipts can be texted or emailed to the customer, and your money is deposited directly into your account.

Reasonable expectations. The most important thing authors can bring to an author even is reasonable expectations. Be thankful to connect with readers who love books as much as you do. Be friendly, because you are your brand. Enjoy the moment, because you’ve written the book that’s stacked on the table. It’s a grand feeling.

Julie Musil writes from her rural home in Southern California, where she lives with her husband and three sons. She’s an obsessive reader who loves stories that grab the heart and won’t let go. Her Young Adult novels, The Summer of Crossing Lines and The Boy Who Loved Fire, are available now. For more information, or to stop by an say Hi, please visit Julie on her blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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  1. One thing to consider: if an indie author is fortunate to hold an event at a bookstore, always sell the books through the store. Yes, you take the 60/40% cut instead of 100%. But bookstores are the number 1 places for books to be sold (aren't they?) and indie authors need to be grateful for the chance to have their books sold at an actual book outlet.

  2. Great advice, Julie. If I ever have a author event, I'll re-read this to remember all your great tips.

  3. Hi Janice and Julie,
    Thanks for a super post. This is very helpful.

  4. Dean, that's an excellent point. The small amount of money lost is minimal, but the gains are worthy.

    Natalie, not if...WHEN :)

    Tracy, thanks for stopping by. I'm glad it was helpful!

  5. Great info, Julie as always!!

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  7. Great info! I was at a festival promoting my upcoming book and I had a lot of people tell me that they didn't want a free bookmark. Maybe I should have taped candy to them!

  8. Great post. Thanks from Portugal.

  9. Thanks a million! I have everything except the card swipe though it was on my list I forgot. Thank you so much for the reminder. Blessings...