This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the SC Book Festival along with several other bestselling authors to include Allison Hobbs (Brick and Scadalicious), Eric Jerome Dicky (Marvel Miniseries and Chasing Destiny), Hanoch McCarty (Chicken Soup for the Soul), Kimberla Lawson Roby (The Reverend’s Wife), Zane (Sex Chronicles and Hot Box) and many more. These authors were not only Featured Presenters but some also had exhibitor spaces.
Me in the middle along with Strebor Books (an imprint of Simone and Schuster) authors Charmain and Allison Hobbs
The festival did a 180 degree turnaround from last year from the bigger names to the crowds. Upon the opening of the doors on Saturday readers flooded the event, bringing in their good spirits and of course their wallets. Within an hour my sales tripled from the previous year. Along with the readers came the inquiring authors. As most know I enjoy helping others, just not so much when I’m at an event selling books. This leads me to my actual blog topic—Author Etiquette.
As with anything there are rules one should follow when seeking advice from other authors or publishing companies at book festivals:
#1 No blocking the table! Unless you are purchasing a book do not block the booth from other readers. Step to the side.
#2 Do not hand the author or publisher your book expecting them to look it over on the spot. Yes, we like meeting people but those booths are not free. We are there to sell books. No one has time to read your book and give you a critique. But, if you are to be sold bold as to do this please make sure you are handing them a quality product. Handing someone a non-edited, non-formatted, and poorly designed cover to boot is not making a good impression.
#3 Do not bombard authors and publishers with questions and surely don’t pull out a form expecting them to go down your list of questions. In fact festivals often have classes authors can attend regarding writing and publishing. Feel free to attend those classes and ask away. That’s why they have them. Also, most questions can be answered by looking at a publisher’s website. Feel free to stop by the booth and take some marketing material.
#4 Know the difference between self-publishing and traditional publishing before you assume and insult an author. Having a booth at an event and not a featured presenter does not mean an author is self-published nor has not reached bestselling status. It means the author knows about marketing and promoting their work.
#5 A good way to get some answers from an author is to actually purchase one of their books. Why would an author want to spend their time speaking with you if you don’t bother to even read their work? For all you know they may not be that good of an author and you don’t want their advice or in my case, I have a book that answers all your questions but you fail to purchase it. The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors was written with you in mind. Tip: no author is going to give you all of their secrets. We worked hard to get where we are and are not going to just hand it over.
Me and one of my young adult readers
#6 If you are a fellow author vending the event don't get upset if your book is not selling as much as the authors around you. If you do, please refrain from trying to block their readers and making snide remarks. It’s best to sneak peeks and take note of what you can do better. If possible catch the author in-between customers and make small talk with them. Networking is acceptable, but if a reader walks up kindly step to the side.
#7 If you are going to approach other authors please be professional and use good hygiene. It’s a shame I have to say this but bathing is essential if you want to hold a conversation with me. I don’t have a very good poker face so my eyes starting to water and nose turning up has nothing to do with your characters untimely death. It’s the odor.
The above mentioned are just a few of I often encounter while book touring and all were broken in SC. While I'm making fun due not I'm also being serious. It will get you a little closer to your goal. For more tips you may want to try The Not So Common Sense Guide for Authors and if you are serious about promoting your work try being an exhibitor yourself.
Until Next Time,
Award Winning Author