Good morning everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m getting excited about the holidays coming! Christmas is my favorite holiday of the year and I love getting in the festive mood for the months leading up to it! Family gatherings, holiday baking, seeing Christmas lights and decorations, singing Christmas songs in the car – these are some of the things that we did when I was young as a family and have become a lifelong tradition. I’d love to hear some of your favorite holiday traditions so please click Comment below to share some of your favorites!
One of the events that always signifies that Christmas is getting closer is the Kris Kringle Craft Show in Hagerstown, Maryland. This year is the 33rd year they are holding it, and it has become a favorite family tradition with my mother and sister. It is an indoor/outdoor craft show with food, craft vendors, door prize giveaways, free gift wrapping, and sometimes Santa even shows up for a visit! This is a wonderful event which was started as a way to collect non-perishable food items and toys for the local community. Not only are non-perishable food items still collected but the majority of the proceeds from this event go to support local non-profit organizations. If you’re near Hagerstown I highly recommend you check this event out! It will be held on Saturday, November 19th from 9am – 5pm and Sunday, November 20th from 9am – 4pm.
This year I will be selling copies of my book Laurel Hill: New Beginnings at Kris Kringle. When I participated in Kris Kringle two years ago for the first time, it was such a wonderful event! Not only did I sell more than 50 copies of my book (my record high at any event!) but I connected and talked with hundreds of people and had a wonderful time! I’m really looking forward to setting up my vendor booth at this event because I’m incorporating a couple of new pieces to my table. Since I’ve been planning this out for a couple of weeks, I thought it might be a nice idea to write about what I include at my book when I sell my books to give other authors an idea of what works and what doesn’t. Here is a breakdown of what my vendor booth will have this year at Kris Kringle, as well as what I won’t be using this time.
I have two different large signs that I alternate at my vendor events. The first sign is a horizontal banner that I ordered from Vistaprint when I first published my book. It is about 6 feet long by 2 1/2 feet high and I usually use this when I have a large booth. My handy brother-in-law created a stand for it out of pvc pipe that he painted black so it attaches to that and hangs above my head and behind the table I’m sitting at usually. The second sign is a vertical banner that I also ordered from Vistaprint the year after I published my book. It is 2 ½ feet wide by 6 feet tall and I like to use this one when I have a smaller booth. I also purchased one of the H-Banner Stands from Vistaprint and it works wonderfully. I found that both of these signs were wonderful investments for my business as they are very sturdy and have lasted 3 years or more now with very little wear and tear.
I have two different covers that I use for my tables at vendor events as well. The first one was a very basic purple tablecloth that is thinner and very durable material. This works well for almost all of my events. The second cover that I purchased was specifically for Kris Kringle two years ago, but I use it for various events now that I have it. I had to purchase this table cover because Kris Kringle had more stringent requirements for what you were allowed to use. It had to come all the way down and touch the floor on all sides and you couldn’t see through it. The cover that I purchased was for banquet tables but it worked perfectly for what I needed. I highly recommend you invest in some sort of covering for your tables, especially if you tend to use the tables provided by the events instead of your own because you do not know what condition they will be in when you go to the event and you want to ensure that you can still keep your booth professional-looking regardless of the condition of the table.
This is one of my favorite items to include when I sell my books at a vendor event! I will hand out bookmarks to everyone that will take one while they are walking around the event and I love to display them fanned out on my table front and center to draw attention. You can have regular bookmarks or use rack cards for a larger bookmark, which is what I prefer to do. I have found that using rack cards instead of standard bookmarks are cheaper when you are having them made as well. I also have a couple of pens that have my logo and name printed on them that I use while autographing copies of my books. You can even have pens made up to hand out as gifts at events, but I have found them to be a little too pricey for me at this point.
Even though I just started using email marketing for my business this past summer, I actually had an email sign up card on my table at every vendor event so that I could begin to build a list even before I knew what I could send to my subscriber list. I had previously made my own postcard sized cards that I had on my table with pens for people to fill out, but this year I have had a larger sheet created with my new website header image on the top so that it is easier to keep track of just one or two pages instead of numerous cards. The page that I created will hold 20 subscribers and it just has two columns: Name and Email Address. I am finding that one of the questions that agents and publishers ask is how many subscribers you have for your email list, so I have begun building my list more aggressively lately.
This is a very important piece to remember to bring to your events. There have been times where it’s the morning of the event or the night before and I realize that I forgot to get change to bring to the event. It’s important to make sure that you can make change for the customers who will want to pay in cash, bringing both smaller bills as well as coins. Think about how many times you pay cash for items at events – what is the most prominent bill you have to pay with? What I see the most is a $20 bill from customers. I always make sure I bring several tens and fives and at least $20 or more in singles. I also bring the equivalent to thirty cents in pennies, a dollar or two in nickels, five dollars in dimes, and ten dollars in quarters. It’s a great idea to figure out what the cost of your book is with tax for various quantities and then determine what change you will be giving back to your customer depending on how they pay you. This really helped me figure out how much of each denomination I needed so I’m not carrying around what I don’t need. In addition to cash, I have a credit card reader app and the card reader for my smart phone and accept all credit cards for payment. Mine is through Quickbooks and the card reader was free when I purchased the software. I’ve heard very good things about Square as well and would recommend either of them. The way these work is that you set up the charges to be deposited into your bank account (I use my checking account) and the company automatically deducts their 2-3% before completing the ACH deposit into your account so I didn’t have any upfront fees, which makes it very beneficial. I also suggest having some way to provide a receipt to your customers who pay with cash or a check (if you decide to accept checks). I use a receipt book that I purchased from Office Max. This also helps me to keep track of my sales for tax season so it serves a dual purpose.
This, of course, is the most important thing to have at your booth. You want to have plenty of stock with you, but not so much that you need a u-haul to cart it around. There have been many times where I’ve hauled my entire inventory of books with me, only to sell one or two copies. Try to judge based on the location and size of the event where you will be selling. If it is a smaller event with just a couple of vendors or authors, I would try to keep the number of books that I bring under 20. For Kris Kringle, I will most likely bring 50 copies with me each day, but have a few dozen in reserve left in the car in case I begin to get low. Because it is a 2-day event, I can still keep the number of copies lower, even if I expect to sell a lot. When staging your books on your table, you want to make them as attractive to your audience as possible. I like to have a stack of books on one end of my table and one copy of my book in front of the stack in a stand displaying the cover.
There are some things that you can include at your booth that just help to draw customers to you or makes it easier to engage with them. For the first time, I will have a tablet playing my book trailer video on my table. I had a book trailer video made by someone on Fiverr (check out my video on my home page) and it turned out phenomenal! I have seen people using laptops and tablets to play videos and it always draws customers in so I’m excited to give this a try this time. I’ve also provided chocolates on the table from time to time and offered them to customers as they walk by. I prefer to pick up a couple of bags of various flavors of Dove chocolates as they are individual pieces and their wrappers are brightly colored so they draw the eye well. Before you bring any type of food for your booth, be sure to check the rules of the event you are attending. Some events have specific requirements for vendors providing food and this may change your agreement. The final item that I’ve included at a couple of events is a raffle. I have raffled off gift baskets, gift cards or even a Kindle Fire at events and have had mixed reception by customers. I usually do not charge for customers to fill out a raffle ticket and I let them know that they don’t have to be present to win. The first time I had a raffle was at my book launch party. I had the Kindle Fire as the grand prize and a few gift baskets as runner-up prizes and people received one raffle ticket for each copy of my book that they purchased. This raffle had the best result and I sold quite a few copies of my book! At other events, I have had free raffle tickets out for gift cards but had very few people enter for the drawing – despite it being free! If you think this is something you would like to include at your vendor booth, I still suggest you check the requirements for the event to be sure you are allowed to have a raffle before you get to the event.
I hope this helped to give you some creative ideas for selling your books at events! I’d love to hear how you set your booth up at events and get some new tips and tricks for bringing in customer so please click the Leave a Comment link below and let me know what you do at your events! Happy writing!
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