Think of attending a book fair or a signing event as a tremendous opportunity for networking and forming powerful liaisons.
Often authors attend signings, set up their booth or table, and spend the day totally oblivious to the surrounding fellow writers. Book signings and fairs are social events. To get the most out of your time at these events, it is important that one participate in them in the spirit of friendliness and teamwork.
One should make a specific point of introducing oneself to authors in the immediate vicinity or with whom one has been assigned to share a table. In fact, before the event begins, it’s a great idea to walk around and see who’s selling what. Introduce yourself to others. Ask about their titles and share the titles you’re selling. Pass out a business card and get one from them. Chat with people. Ask what other signings they’ve been to recently and what signings they plan on attending in the future. This is a good way to find out about other sales opportunities.
Friendliness will put many at ease. It’s easy to spot new authors or ones whose books are not selling well. Talking with them, even briefly, is an overture they won’t forget.
Often people will approach looking for a particular type of book. If you know of someone who is selling that type of book, by all means refer the customer to the appropriate person. Ask the customer to tell the book seller who referred them. It won’t be long and you’ll be getting extra customers from others’ referrals.
One of the fatal mistakes many authors make is to get discouraged and to leave early from a signing. This is not a good idea. First, it is disappointing to late arriving customers. Second, leaving early lets the sponsor down who has advertised the event and perhaps has even turned some authors away because of limited space. Third, many times a last minute flurry of sales occurs in the closing hour.
Authors are, quite honestly, the cheapskates of the book industry. Make it a point to buy at least one book from one author at a signing. Give the book as a gift if needed, but authors need to support each other. By all means, if one is sharing a table with another author, it is common courtesy to buy a copy of one of their titles. Get a receipt and write the book off if necessary, but be a professional. In all businesses, professionals are supportive of each other except for one: writing.
After you get home, go through the collection of cards you’ve gathered from the authors at the event and send each author with whom you spoke a short email telling them how nice it was to meet them, or congratulating them on their book sales, or something similar. This is simple courtesy, and it’s also the beginnings of a potentially powerful network.
Don’t think of other authors as competition; think of them as teammates, and you’ll find that you not only learn a great deal from others, but you’ll also find signings much more profitable and enjoyable.