Author Vending: How Many Books [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Between shows and writing deadlines (and my full-time job), it’s been a busy few weeks since my last vending post! I was worried I wouldn’t have time to participate this month, but I know that folks really appreciate these posts, so here I am. If you find this useful, please consider sharing it with other authors you know!

I participate in the Author Toolbox Blog Hop just about every month. It’s a bunch of authors who help other authors, and it’s pretty cool to see how many topics get covered each month! This will be the last post for this blog hop for 2019 because they skip November and December — another reason I wanted to make sure I could participate.

One of the first questions I got when I started this series was how many books to bring to signings? Unfortunately there is no straightforward answer like ten or something like that. It really depends on a lot of factors, and I’ll discuss a few that I’ve encountered here!

How long is the event?

This may be answered in hours or days. If you’re doing a two-hour author signing at your favorite small, independent bookstore, then ten may be a good number to start with. However if it’s 2-day free outdoor event and each day lasts eight hours, then you’ll want to have more than ten books on hand. Depending on other factors, you may expect to sell 10-20 books a day for example, so take that into consideration.

How well known are your books?

Let’s say this is your first book. Awesome, congrats! However if you don’t have a well-known name, then you’ll want to focus on drumming up interest for the event ahead of time. Still most authors will admit that they only had friends and family at their first event, if that, and that’s perfectly fine! It’s about more than just selling your books, it’s getting your name out there and learning how to do these events.

If you are fairly well-known though, or you do enough marketing ahead of time, you may want to bring more than ten books to your two-hour book signing. Those may go really fast!

There is a lot of plantlife in the Stolen series.

Where are you selling?

So this is more than just the difference between a small, indie bookstore and a big two-day festival. With this question, I’m meaning who are the readers that your book targets? I write books where people are often in the woods. Therefore my books tend to appeal more to people who have also lived closer to nature. However people living in an urban metropolis may not have as much of a connection with the book aesthetic.

This of course isn’t always the case. Lots of people read widely and enjoy variety in their books, but you can expect an urban fantasy for example to sell better in urban areas than rural places.

I also write young adult books. I’m fortunate in that this appeals to a wide audience range, but remember that picture books probably wouldn’t sell as well at a horror convention. Keep your audience in mind when stocking and setting expectations for your sales.

The She-Wolf of Kanta – from my first indie bookstore signing!

Do you have a distributor?

This really applies to library signings, bookstore events, and book festivals. If you have a distributor, such as through Ingram, you may not need to worry about bringing your own copies. That means the host event can order copies on their own, and may request to stock a few as well after the event is over. A distributor means that if the books don’t sell, the host location can send the books back instead of being stuck with the additional copies. This can save you a lot of time and headache, but you are also relying on the host location to know how many copies to order.

If you don’t have a distributor, that means you are your own distributor. Usually the host location will take a percentage of sales at the event, and then you take any copies that didn’t sell back home with you. Some places will also allow you to put books on consignment with them. This means they stock your copies on their shelves, and when they sell you get a percentage. If they don’t sell and they don’t want to keep them stocked, then you pick them up. It’s a lot of additional work on the bookstore’s end, so many don’t permit consigned books for this reason. They also don’t want to be left with additional stock either because that’s storage space that could be used for books that are selling.

Will you be shipping books out?

This may seem like an odd question, but can you imagine how much it would cost to bring 50 books with you on a plane? Quite a bit! So it’s way easier just to ship them to a friend who lives close to the event you’re attending and pay the much cheaper media mail rates. That said, if you’re trying to save money, you may want to ship out fewer books and just deal with the risk of running out of copies.

Do you want to run out?

Again this one seems like a strange question, but if you flew out to a location for an event, and don’t want to ship your books back home your strategy may be to just run out! That saves on additional costs and also looks good if you sell out at the event. The drawback is that you may miss out on additional sales that you could have made and if you’re not careful you could sell out early!

I hope this helps! Again this is just from my experiences of doing this for a year and a half. In a few more years I may be adding more to this list. If you enjoyed this information, feel free to share or leave a comment below!

Tidying Up

So if you visit my site often, you may have noticed some major changes going on with the site. Not only has the side menu disappeared, but the menu is all different too. Here is why I made these changes and what’s been added.

We Have Incoming

I’ve got a lot of books about to be out soon. I have two physical books available now and next year will have both Broken and The Seeking published. That’s book 2 in the Stolen series and a brand new standalone novel. I’ve been posting on this site since 2009 or so, and just like at home, you can gather a lot of clutter on a website in 10 years time. My menu was starting to get pretty clunky and nested menus were starting to be hard to navigate on some devices.

My Maps and Trains of the 1880s post is still very popular, even though all the images were very broken. All fixed now!

Thank You, Cherie

So I went through and cleaned up a bunch of things. You’ll see a new Contact Info/Press Kit link that has not only my bios, but my email/PO box as well. I’ve also got author photos listed there along with hi-resolution photos of all the covers I’ve been published in. (Whew, there were a lot!) It’s probably pretty obvious why I had to make that, but basically I’ve been doing a bunch of shows, and it was starting to take too long to dig out my Word document to copy and paste when I could just link here. (It is SUPER similar to Cherie Priest’s Contact Info page because she is a goddess and I’ve looked up to her forever. So apologies, Cherie!)

For the Fans

I also realized that I have a ton of additional information I’ve been putting out for the Stolen series. About 6 months out I start posting weekly on Instagram with the #worldofstolen hashtag, and dole out little bites of information and peeks into what’s to come when release day hits. That’s a lot of worldbuilding that just gets lost in the ether if I don’t link it, so that’s what I did. There’s now a whole World of Stolen page that links to the hashtag on Instagram, gives my stance on fanart/fanfic, links to the original short story for Stolen, and even links to the release day video. When Broken comes out in April of next year, I’ll probably be adding even more to that page. For people who want to dig into the world after reading the book, it’s a gold mine of information.

Finally, I realized that I have a lot of channels specifically for readers and fans of my work that I don’t really explain. So that’s what the For Readers page does. It explains the difference between the Facebook group, the mailing list, and shows all of the different ways I can be reached. You’ll also notice I added a section to stub out pages for the World of Kanta and the World of Carra too. I don’t have anything yet for those places, but it’s coming.

The World of Carra is for The Seeking, and yes it is scheduled for Fall 2020. Really not that far away!

What’s Next

So you might still see a few tweaks around (like the new header image!) but generally I’m pretty pleased with this instance. When Broken‘s cover gets revealed later this month, you can expect to see the color palette change here and in my mailing list too.

Have you signed up for the Cover Reveal yet?

I’m super excited for all the new things coming this way, but I wanted to make sure the site was ready to handle it all.

I also wanted to give my followers and readers a heads up – these next two books are going to be intense.

I hope you’re buckled in!

Help An Author Out!

So you’ll probably see posts go up on a regular basis from authors talking about ways that you can help them out without necessarily having to spend money. There are plenty of tried and true ways to do it, such as requesting that your local library stock copies of your favorite author’s books, or telling all your friends about how much you enjoyed a book, or posting a review up on Amazon or even Youtube. Even just sharing their website or social media posts can help.

There are also lists that you can vote on too!

Right now I’ve got several of my books up on various Listopia lists, and if you have a Goodreads account (which is free to get if you don’t), you can vote on them! This makes my work more visible for other readers looking for new books to read, but it also might actually give my books a chance to get awards too!

How To Vote?

  • Login with your Goodreads account
  • Look for the book on the list. Sometimes you have to search for it on several pages if it’s a long list.
  • Click on the button for: Vote For This Book

Where Do I Vote?

  • Goodreads Choice Awards 2019 (eligible for write-in only) – So the only way indie authors can really get a chance on the Goodreads Choice Awards listing is if they can rally their fans to vote on their work. I’m happy to say that Stolen is now on this list! (Currently on page 6!)
  • YA Novels of 2020 – A listing of Young Adult novels releasing in 2020! You can find both Broken and The Seeking on this list. Currently both books are on Page 7, but that might change.
  • YA Releases of April, 2020 – YA books set to be released in April 2020! You can find Broken on this list. Fortunately it’s pretty short, so it shouldn’t be hard to find!
  • The Seeking is scheduled for Fall 2020, but doesn’t have a firm release date yet – but I’ll probably come back and add it once it gets confirmed!

While you’re voting on my books, I hope you’ll consider voting on my fellow Parliament House authors too. They’ve all had book releases this year, and I’ve had the honor of working alongside every one of these incredible authors in person.

  • Candace Robinson
  • Sarah Lampkin
  • Amber R. Duell
  • M. B. Dalto
  • Tracy Auerbach

Author Vending: The Importance of Signage [#AuthorToolboxBlogHop]

Dang the last four weeks have been rough. Between three back-to-back shows, a week-long vacation, and getting sick (twice now!), it’s been a difficult time lately. However I knew I wanted to get a new post up for my second time participating in the Author Toolbox Blog Hop.

If you want posts from authors dedicated to helping other authors, then be sure to check out this series! Posts go up each month (though November and December get skipped). As an author, I love being able to give back, and having a deadline to keep me motivated!

One of the first decisions I had to make when I started vending as an author was finding where to sell books and where to do signings. Once I had that figured out, I had the difficult decision of figuring out what to bring. That was a lot harder than I expected it to be, but I knew that signage was important.

Signage Can Be Small

It doesn’t matter if it’s as simple as a chalkboard sign, or as elaborate as a self-sending vertical banner. Having signage with you instantly signals to a visitor that an event is going on, and they’re likely going to read it to learn more.

When I had my first author signing event, it lasted two hours at an independent bookstore, and it poured down rain through half of it. I didn’t have a huge turnout, but I did have family and friends that showed up, and that was a big inspiration for me. The only signage I had was a sign we had made out of a dollar store plate and chalkboard paint that my sister drew out for me. It was super cute, but didn’t draw in people like I wanted.

My sister, Kelley, did an amazing job with the chalk art on this! We were prepping for my first signing at Story On The Square!

Larger Signage Gets Attention

Flash forward to our first outdoor festival, where we didn’t know how to have proper airflow with our tent and it was super hot. What brought people in was a giant vertical sign we secured onto the outside of the tent. People saw horror author and were super excited to check it out.

Our first outdoor festival: Geranium Festival! We just got done setting up at dawn. Featuring Kelley in the back!

Fast forward again to the Next Chapter Con a couple weeks back. People walked up to the table and read my author sign behind me. “YA Fantasy and Horror”, they would mumble to themselves. Then they’d look down at me and smile before asking, “Where’s the horror?” I could point them in the direction and let them read the back copy to decide if they were interested, talking about the book as they checked it out.

Got to break out both banners at Next Chapter Con a couple weeks back!

Banners Help Regardless of Genre

It’s important to know how to describe your work, and while at first I was reluctant to have an author banner that would represent both the fantasy and the horror that I write, in the long run it’s been very helpful in drawing in people. I found a way to make my author representation capture both aspects of my work, which I talk more about when I revamped my business cards.

When the banner is posted outside of our tent, folks will stop to read it, talking about the blurbs and the covers. When I walk up and introduce myself as the author, they get so excited!

The banner allows people to stop and talk about your work without you having to be part of the conversation. Let them decide if your work is interesting or not. And let your banner do the talking so you don’t have to do all the work.

When you’re vending as an author, use all the help you can get to portray your words without relying on solely your books. I think of signage as a menu for your books. You want to portray taste and composition before eating the meal itself.

One Full Calendar!

It’s over halfway through 2019, and my event calendar is filling up fast! From horror conventions to brand new author conventions, my sister and I (MorbidSmile) will be traveling quite a bit over the next few months. Even the next few weekends really.

I admit, sometimes it’s difficult to keep up with all the schedule changes, all the confirmations, all the travel plans that come up so quickly. However I try to always list out the events I’m attending on my Facebook Author Page. Just click on the Events tab on the left to see all the Facebook events for the festivals I’m planning to attend.

You can also see all my events coming up on my newly updated Appearances page!