Thank you for joining me for the second installment of Holiday Shows. Last week we left off preparing for the event. If you missed that segment, you can find it here. This week we are going to discuss the actual event.
My husband and I arrived at the venue at 6:30 a.m. to set up our space for the 8:00 a.m. show opening. It took us about 45 minutes, start-to-finish, to get everything unpacked and set-up. We used the extra time to walk around and look at the other vendor booths. Once the doors opened, I was glued to the spot until the 2:00 p.m. closing.
The show started off extremely quiet. Perhaps 8:00 a.m. is a little too early for Saturday morning shoppers. The few shoppers that did brave the early hours seemed to come in and do a quick perusal. Not many lingered over the individual booths. As the day wore on, there was one distinct difference I noted–most of the shoppers were definitely interested in crafts. Later in the afternoon, we did have a pretty steady stream of visitors. During that time, I sold a decent amount of books.
Here are a few things I’d recommend based on my past experience of working trade shows. Despite whether a show is quiet or busy, maintain a friendly demeanor. Engage your visitors–even if you know they aren’t going to purchase a book. Offer a kind smile, a warm handshake, and conversation. Several times throughout the day I heard the repeated genuine, apologetic comments, “My children and grandchildren are grown” or “I don’t know anyone of that age”. However, if you set a good impression, they will remember you later on when a situation arises. In the meantime, always hand out a business card and always send them off with a warm exchange.
Here is the tough part…during the day you will be tempted to sit. Don’t! Your feet may be barking, your legs screaming, but fight the urge! When you are standing, you are ready to interact. You are more approachable. The only time I sat down was to: 1) take a 15 minute break to eat lunch; and, 2) sign books. I will admit, it has been years since I’ve done a trade show and I forgot one cardinal rule—do not wear heels! Being a shorty, I’m always in heels! After one and half hours of standing in my 3.5″ Franco Sarto booties, my feet and legs were ready to give out. Thankfully, my daughter came to the rescue with my favorite pair of Converse! (Just like the ones Dani wears!) Instant relief!
In the first segment, I alluded to one very serious mistake. I did not have any signage stating I was the author or that I was there to do book signings. I thought this was a given. However, I cannot tell you how many times during the day I was hesitantly asked if I was the author. It never occurred to me that people would think anything else. I was wrong! Let’s all say that together— I WAS WRONG! Make it very apparent that you are the author and that you are doing book signings! This is very important; learn from my mistake. People will not assume you are the author; they will assume you are just a vendor selling books. You need to make this clear and very apparent. This was not their mistake, it was mine! It is also one I corrected as soon as I got home. My new poster is already printed and ready for my next adventure!
What was the best part of the day? Meeting people and spreading the news about the series. I met some lovely individuals. I spoke with parents, children, teachers, and other authors. Being from out of town, I enjoyed interacting with a whole new community that I hadn’t tapped into before.
So what did I take away from my first holiday show? It was a wonderful experience! I may not have set the roof on fire with my sales, but my sales were decent and acceptable. I also learned the important lesson of clarifying who I am in my advertising. Regardless, having the opportunity to reach out, market, and introduce Dani to a new community was well-worth the investment in fees and time.
I hope you will consider a holiday show. Again, I do believe every venue will be different. It is up to you to find the ones that work, and those that do not. More importantly, it is the opportunity to reach out and encourage literacy and a love of reading.
Wishing you all the best,