Events

It’s not just about sales [Book Events Series]

As many of you know, from June this year I started doing a range of in-person events. From local markets, to mini cons, to school visits – I’ve got a whole lot lined up. At the outset, my goals were sales, marketing, and generally building awareness of me, as an author / artist. The sales have been a great boost, but the auxilliary benefits easily outweigh the (small) financial benefits.

A quick note on sales

At every event, I have sold something. At some events, I have made a profit, at others a loss, and some I’ve broken even. Overall though, I have made a profit over this year’s events (which is sales, minus cost of printing, petrol and any event fees). A profit is nice, as it contributes towards my business costs, but as long as I don’t make a loss – I’m happy.

Building word of mouth advertising

In conjunction with my social media presence and my webiste / blog, I am beginning to meet people who have had my books recommended to them. One of my primary goals with attending events was precisely this, so it’s great to see this happening in a mere three months! At live events, I have the opporuntity to truly connect with people (whether they buy my books or not) which contributes to word-of-mouth generation. Word of mouth is a powerful way to advertise, because we tend to trust recommendations from people we trust – it just makes sense. (Forbes has an article of WoM here).

Building brand awareness

Similar to the above, I am starting to meet people who recognise me as an author, or specifically as ‘Zee the author’ which, apart from being really, super exciting, shows how quickly brand awareness can begin to occur. My profile photo on all social media platforms is a clear representation of myself, and helps with recognition.

Creating new opportunities

It was from a library-run event that I was offered to be a part of ArtWeek Auckland, a massive arts event held in our city. I also developed connections with teachers and art centres, and have learned about other events worth attending. By networking with other people at these events I have been privy to wonderful opportunities, on a personal and career level.

Market research

Another benefit is learning who is interested in your work, why they’re drawn to it, and what makes them buy. I’ve found that most of my books have been bought by grandparents, aunts or uncles who have bought the books as gifts – but then started reading them and realised they liked it, too! This gives me a good idea of my buyers (adults) and my readers (adults and children). Most of the children that have been interested have been in the 9-13 year old range.

The warm fuzzies

It is incredibly motivating and heart-warming to watch people’s faces light up in wonder as they read some of my work, or flick through my picture books / colouring books; to have previous buyers come up to me and rave about how much they loved my work, and to hear people exclaim how beautiful and professional the books look – and you published yourself? Wow! I also get to share my journey with other writers and creatives, meet some wonderful people, and inspire young writers that this whole writer thing is posisble.

And if that hasn’t convinced you, I don’t know what will!

This article is part of my Book Events Series, leading up to the NZ Independent Book Festival.

News

Display Advice [Book Events Series]

There are a million and one ideas for how to set up a display space, how to showcase your books – and how much to spend.

My first event was a book launch, and the lovely ladies at the Pt Chev Bookshop took care of the display for me. Next was a school visit, at which a display wasn’t relevant. After that, however, were the markets.

Stick to a theme

My very first stall had a jumble of things – my books, some of my mum’s crafts, postcards, and some bags made by a friend of mine. I sold very little that day and looking around at other stalls I soon realised that my products needed some cohesion.

Since then, I’ve pared down what I put on the table, and I leave some space for the products to be seen clearly. The products that get the most visual attention are the ones I make most prominent, so I use my hardbacks as display pieces, and have my paperbacks laying flat. Now that I’ve got a colouring book as well, I use a small easel to display that.

Blockhouse Bay - Aug 2015
Blockhouse Bay – Aug 2015

Tell people who you are

Another lesson I learned pretty early on was that people didn’t know I was the author of the books I had. I remedied this with a table-front banner that has ‘meet the author’ across the top to tell people who I am. Sometimes I take a blackboard a long that summarises the answers to my frequently asked questions.

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At a book festival, it’s a bit different. People are expecting to see the authors with their books, so at the NZ Book Festival my focus is on letting people know I’m a children’s author, generally in the fantasy genre.

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Be practical

Of utmost importance for me was the ability to carry everything myself. Sometimes my partner helps me with set-up and pack-up, but often I’m on my own. I invested in a table that folds and has a carry-handle (from Bunnings), a comfy folding chair (from the Warehouse) and a trolley suitcase so I could wheel it to and from the car. I still have to do two trips sometimes, but it’s manageable overall.

Stay on budget

Like most of authors, I’m on a fairly tight budget. I bought a table, chair and banner, as well as fabric to make a fitting tablecloth – these I consider essentials. I also bought little chalkboards to write prices on, which have actually managed to get almost as much attention as the books!

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All up, it was well under NZ $150, which I consider an investment as I’ll be re-using these items (you can see on my events page that they have been use a LOT). Other than that, I use an easel that I already owned, and have utilised one of my ukulele stands as a book display stand. It also means that for large events, I don’t have to invest a huge amount, because I already have some display materials.

Having said that, if you are only doing occasional events, there is usually an opportunity to hire from the venue.

Do a mock set-up

Easily the most valuable thing I did was to set up a mock stall at home. This gave me a realistic idea of the space I had to work with, what could stand on its own (hardbacks) and what needed help (paperbacks), and how long it would take me to set up.

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This is the second installment in my Book Events Series. The first post was on merchandising ideas, and the next will be on how to promote a book event on social media.

Monday Musings, News

Monday Musings

When I was blogging a while ago, I began doing a sort of round-up on Mondays. I’d write some of my goals for the week, and what I had achieved in the previous week. On the whole, I found this a great way to keep on top of stuff (uh, except when I didn’t lol).

So I’m kind of sort of reviving my Monday blogging. I’ll post a bit of a reflection of last week, and what’s on the cards for the upcoming week.

Hopefully, this will serve two purposes – firstly, to keep me on track & focused! But also, I’m making an effort to get out and about more (you can see upcoming events in the right-hand sidebar now (scroll down if you’re reading this on your phone or tablet)). So since I’m doing more events, it lets you guys know if I’m in your area.

So what did I get up to last week?

  • Over the long weekend, I went down to Hamilton to do a workshop with Butterfly Clinic and Neotouch in cranio-sacral therapy. This was a beautiful, transformative experience and I will do a proper blog about it later this week.
  • And in relation to that, I’ve sent Karyn at Butterfly Clinic a copy of each of my books, and she will soon be stocking them in her shop!
  • I spent the rest of the week at Blockhouse Bay Intermediate (read about it here) as they were celebrating Book Week. I met some lovely young people, and answered lots of fantastic questions.
  • On Sunday, I held my very first stall at the Mangere Bridge Boutique Markets. It was a lovely morning and I met some great people.
  • I didn’t do much on the writing front, but I did manage to get everything through to my printer, Chris, so Lucy’s Story is currently being made!
My mock set-up for my market stall!
My mock set-up for my market stall!

And what’s on the cards for this week?

  • Clean the house! It was a busy week so there’s lots of catching up to do.
  • Get the colouring pages and writing tasks prepared for the launch party.
  • Work on my draft for Beyond the End of the World.  Writing has been really slow on this and I need to give myself a kick in the butt and get this done.
  • And on the weekend, I’ll be visiting the Mt Eden Village Craft Market with the hopes of having a stall there next time – on Saturday the 11th of July.
Events, News

Getting Out & About in Auckland – June 2015

I have some exciting events & appearances coming up soon. This week, I’ll be visiting my old primary school, St Dominic’s Primary, for my first school visit as a ‘real author’. I’ll be visiting the middle & senior classes (roughly ages 7-10) to talk with them about being a writer, and inspire them (or so I’ve been told – no pressure, right?).

Just down the road from St Dominic’s Primary School is Blockhouse Bay Intermediate (that’s middle school for you US folk), and in the first week of June they’re celebrating Book Week. I’ll be going in for three mornings to read to some of the students, and talk about what it’s like to be a writer.

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Photo from Mangere Bridge Village Boutique Markets Facebook page.

The weekend after that I’ll be meeting up with some fellow indie writers, and – if weather permits – have my first stall at the Mangere Bridge Village Boutique Markets (Sunday 7th June, if anyone wants to pop in and say hi!). I first heard about them from Robyn P Murray, who sells her picture books and short stories there.

On the 20th of June, of course, there’s the book launch for Lucy’s Story: The End of the World. I am particularly looking forward to this, because I absolutely love Lucy and I’m really proud of her story.

FB Cover Lucy's StoryAnd finally, on Saturday the 27th of June, I’m teaming up with Robyn P Murray and Jo Barr to set up at the Blockhouse Bay Market Day.  We’ve been discussing the option of a shared stall for a while, so it’s great to be able to finally do one together. Both Robyn & Jo have some gorgeously illustrated picture books, Robyn also does short stories and I also have chapter books. Between us, we’ve got a fantastic range of books for kids from pre-school right up to intermediate.

Photo from Eventfinda.
Photo from Eventfinda.