Tuesday, March 05, 2019

6 Gadgets to Take to Your Next Book Event

ipad stand, selling books, book events
By Chrys Fey, @ChrysFey

Part of The Writer’s Life Series

JH: Whether you go indie or traditional, odds are you’ll do book and author events. And events mean ways to interact with readers on the marketing and sales side of the biz. Please help me welcome Chrys Fey to the lecture hall today, to share some gadgets and gizmos that help make an author’s life a little easier.

Chrys Fey is the author of Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication. Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book! From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you’ll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. Fey is an editor for Dancing Lemur Press and runs the Insecure Writer’s Support Group’s Goodreads book club. She is also the author of the Disaster Crimes series. Visit her blog, Write with Fey, for more tips.

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Take it away Chrys…

Chrys Fey
The more you attend book events as a signing author to meet readers and sell books, the more you figure out what to bring beyond books and swag (bookmarks, postcards, and other goodies with your name on it). You can also get new ideas after each event on what to do with your table, space, and book displays. I certainly do. 

You learn many tricks besides that, such as having a cooler for a couple of drinks and a lunch you can eat for those events that are eight hours (or so) long. Above all, you know what sort of gadgets can give you the upper-hand and make the event go much smoother for you and for your readers.

1. A Rolling Cart

Over time, you’re going to collect a lot of items that you’ll need to haul back and forth from your house to your car to the place where you’re set up and back again. You may have boxes of plastic tubs full of books, book stands or easels to display those books, and decorations to create ambiance to go with your brand or the theme and genres of your books. To cart all of that around, you’ll need a rolling cart of some sort. I use a folding cart with wheels for the plastic storage containers holding my books and a collapsible, metal utility/shopping cart for boxes of décor. You could also use a wagon, platform truck, or push/trolley cart.

2. Card Reader

In order for you to take credit or debit card transactions, a card reader is required. You can get a free card reader from Square that plugs into the jack of your iPhone. Then you’ll easily be able to swipe cards for transactions of your books and/or handmade crafts. For a price, you can upgrade to a card reader uses chips, though cards with chips work just fine being swiped in the normal reader. PayPal also offers a free card, though, the last time I checked, you have to qualify for it, whereas it’s a simple process to receive the device from Square. They even ship it to you no charge.

(Here's more on how to prep for author events)

3. iPhone and a Stylus

As I mentioned in #2, you’ll need an iPhone to plug your card reader into, so that’s a given, but one thing many people don’t consider is having a stylus pen, a pen with a soft, rounded end that can be used on touchscreens. Having a stylus pen can make signing your name on a touchscreen much easier than using your finger, but let’s face it, whether using a stylus or not, it is tricky to sign your name; it never comes out right. But with a phone that has a small screen, a stylus does make the task easier. I had readers ask if I had a stylus pen when I first got my card reader, and I didn’t. Immediately I bought one at Dollar Tree and have been glad that I did.

4. iPad or Android Tablet

Instead of paper sign-up sheets and a clipboard for your mailing list, consider using a tablet, even if you have to borrow one for an evening, as I have done. To get GDPR-compliant sign-ups—no more holding on to paper sheets forever or inputting subscribers one by one manually, or having to show proof of consent—all you need is to download Mailchimp’s free subscriber app called Mailchimp Subscribe. This app is for Android tablets or iPads and works only for Mailchimp users. It also doesn’t need WiFi. You can collect subscriptions offline, and the moment you connect to WiFi again, all of your new subscribers will be added automatically. Talk about handy!

TIP: In the Mailchimp Subscribe form, make it clear they’re signing up for your newsletters.

(Here's more on creating an author newsletter plan)

5. Tablet Stand

A gadget I found especially neat for signings, and have received compliments on from other authors, is a tablet stand with legs. You clip your tablet into place and set it on your table. Now, no one has to handle your tablet and risk dropping it. It’ll be safe and snug in the stand, at a perfect height for readers to view it and tap on the keyboard on the screen. Easy-peasy.

6. A Small Battery-Operated Fan

Now you don’t need the kind of fan action Beyoncé has while performing on stage, but a small battery-operated fan could be useful in rooms without adequate air-conditioning (trust me, I’ve been in some for book events). And the more people you pack into a room, the hotter it’ll get. You might be thankful for a little fan. A small one positioned in front of you, or even one of those tiny hand-held fans with foam blades that usually come as keychains, could make all the difference, preventing you from feeling uncomfortable.

(Here are ten tips for a successful author talk)

With these gadgets at your disposal, you will be more prepared than many other authors that the very same event. Go, you!

What other gadgets can you think of that may be helpful at a book event?

About Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication

Do you want to know how to write a book step by step?

Are you wondering what to do once you have written a book?

Catch the sparks you need to write, edit, publish, and market your book!

Write with Fey: 10 Sparks to Guide You from Idea to Publication offers an abundance of data in one handy book. From writing your novel to prepping for publication and beyond, you'll find sparks on every page, including 100 bonus marketing tips. You'll also discover how to write specific scenes and characters, adding depth to your work.
  • Spark One: Being a Writer
  • Spark Two: Story Essentials
  • Spark Three: A Book's Stepping Stones
  • Spark Four: How To
  • Spark Five: Character ER
  • Spark Six: Editing
  • Spark Seven: Publishing
  • Spark Eight: Marketing
  • Spark Nine: Writing About
  • Spark Ten: Final Inspiration
With so much information, you'll take notes, highlight, and flag pages to come back to again and again on your writing journey.

You will learn how to:
  • Write action, romance, suspense, mystery, and comedy
  • Create believable characters
  • Edit your writing
  • Build your author platform
  • Craft your author brand
  • Use social media marketing
  • Start a blog
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  1. Thank you so much for having me as one of your part-time contributors this year, Janice! I hope this article helps your readers to prepare for a book event. :)

    1. I can assure you it did. First time I've seen an article on a book event. T.

  2. FYI...For those of us who don't use iPhones, Square works on Android phones, too. I double checked on their website because I was going to be really annoyed if they didn't. ;)

  3. I don't have a square or paypal device and just asked for checks or cash and got it! Totally amazing. One thing I found useful is having a paper nameplate with what genre I write in large letters. Second is wearing a nametag with my name and author. Third, I dress nice. Fourth, didn't buy a banner. I had a plastic standup with a large picture of my book inside it. My friends who attended the book fair I signed at didn't even notice banners. They were looking at the tables.

  4. What a tremendous help this post was for me, Chrys! I am looking forward to my book launch April 26th, and this was just what I needed. Thank you!!

  5. I have both a two-sided banner and a standup poster. Make sure the important stuff is at the top of the pull-up poster, since people won't see the bottom. Also a table stand for the books to display--it's neater. Also always some kind of snack. Best idea? Bags with your logo.

  6. Thanks for the tips, Chrys! All I need to do now is start trying to locate some potential events to attend...

  7. Fantastic tips! It's the little things like the fan and cart that people don't think about. Plus the cooler of drinks and snacks! I've seen poor authors sitting at tables missing meals.