Faire Booth Preparations

I mentioned recently that my application for a booth at the local Renaissance Faire was approved. This weekend, I planned to go shopping for additional items for an outdoor booth dressed in the necessary theme. I hoped to have ninety percent of the materials and do a test run in the backyard. I would take some pictures of how amazing it looked and share them with you to bask in the glory of my creative use of limited funds. 

As you can imagine, little of my shopping today went according to plan. The canopies we have are too big—my booth space is only 5×5—and none of the stores we stopped at had any options smaller than 8×8 or a 7.5-foot circle. Looking for decoration accents was also a bust. The craft stores were too DIY for my skill/time, while Party City’s merchandise was too modern. 

Fortunately, our most important stop of the day paid off and made the shopping headache worth it. Looking into suggestions for decorating a Ren Faire booth, there were many recommendations to use old sheets to wrap modern supports to make them look more like a medieval cloth tent. 

We went to Goodwill to search the linens, picking up a number of sheets to cover the tent, table, and chairs. I plan to use our twine to tie it all to the supports for that billowy tent feel. On a pass through the decorations, we also found another picture stand and a wood box to replace some of the more modern items we used at my first book signing in February. 

This was the table at my first signing. I will use most of this again in August.

The rest will need to wait for delivery, as it had to be ordered online instead. I should have most of it before the end of the month to do a trial run. In addition to the tent, I ordered more sealing wax for more wax seals, some cute butterfly hair clips for potential giveaways with books, and some bookmark charms shaped like swords and other old weapons. Along with the advertising flag I ordered, I think my booth is going to look marvelous, and most of the supplies can be used again in the future!

Books at the Faire

I have seen a lot of advice on how many books to bring to events like this, and it still feels like I am stumbling in the dark. Some say 20 per 1,000 attendees at the event (I’m not sure if this is for each book or total), which would mean about 600 for this event for me. Another person recommended 50-100 of each book for a two-day event, depending on size. This would put me at about 400 books for this two-weekend event. I have decided to order 250 more of my first book, which will give me around 280 available. I’m debating between 150-200 of the second book, which I hope will arrive before the first weekend. The books will not go bad, so hopefully, my guesses will not be a massive overspend. 

As for my second book, it has been with the editor for a couple of weeks now. This one is about 30k words longer than the first, so it is taking a bit more time. She expects to have it back to me by next weekend. Over this next week, I want to finalize the cover, frontmatter, and backmatter so it is all ready to upload to quickly order a proof copy. If that first proof looks good, then I will have about six weeks for a large order to be printed and shipped in advance of the event. 

This also means the book is likely to be released ahead of schedule! I need the paperback to be live to order author copies on KDP (yes, I know there are other options). Sign up to follow my blog here or for my newsletter on the homepage to hear when Hidden Sanctuary officially goes live. 

As a final note today, thank you to all the new readers leaving reviews for Hidden Memory. I am now up to 16 ratings/reviews! Reviews are amazingly important to new authors, and I appreciate all of you for taking the time. 

Have another great weekend!

My First Book Signing

One of my goals for 2022 was to do at least one book signing this year. Whether that was the Rennaisance Faire for which I applied, a local convention I somehow managed to get into, or partnering with a local bookstore for a spot for a couple of hours, I was going to make something happen. I thought it would take most of the year to reach this point. With a little luck and a lot of initiative, my first ever book signing event happened yesterday evening. 

Preparation

Much of my preparation was researching what other authors’ booths have looked like and finding the stories they have shared about what works well and advice for other authors (like me!). I also had to adapt to my budget, which is minimal at the moment. Here are some of the key items along with some of my takeaways: 

  • Books: The general information I found was 50-100 of each book for one (day) event. 
    • This was a smaller event, and I am still unknown. I brought 50 and did not come close to selling out. 
  • Signage: Big, eyecatching, genre-specific. 
    • I got an 11×17 foam board of an image I created using my cover art and review quotes. It worked well for the space given to me. 
    • I might add a cloth banner to go on the table cloth and hang down in front. 
    • I will add a picture of me to the foam board when I upgrade to a larger version. Many people were surprised I was the author…which surprised me, so lesson learned. 
  • Giveaways: have some, and have something that includes your author info on it. 
    • Fairy wings are my logo, so I had butterfly stickers for the kids and some simple bookmarks with a cover image on one side and my logo and info on the back with a QR code for my ebook link. 
    • The wax seals were also a draw. I sold those 2 for $1 and gave one for free with each book sale. They are more supply- and labor-intensive, so I decided not to give them away for free. 
  • Booth buddy/transportation: recommend having a booth buddy and hand cart if possible. 
    • Books are heavy, so are tables and chairs and all the other stuff you will bring. I borrowed my dad’s collapsable hand cart.
    • My husband came with me as my buddy. He is better with people than I am, so he helped me get started with the whole “interaction” thing. He also covered for breaks and completed purchases while I signed the books. 
    • My niece also came as my cashier. Taking notes on my sales and helping make change. She stuck out the entire four hours too!

Check out this cute frog my niece made for me!

Meeker Street Nerd Party

The event itself is still pretty new and growing. I think it started with only one or two businesses on Meeker Street in Kent, WA doing a “nerd party” for their patrons who love fantasy, sci-fi, retro, comics, and other great nerdy things. It has grown to include most businesses on the street with special guests, exhibits, and events. There was cosplay, legos, trivia, artists, authors, and a couple of power rangers (actresses) doing autographs and photos!

While my niece was with me at my table, my nephew checked it out and enjoyed himself. It had pretty good traffic for most of the evening, and people had fun dressing up and participating, as well as patronizing the various businesses. I hope I can attend again and build a partnership with the bookstore. 

Execution

Now you are asking, “If you didn’t get close to selling out, how did you do?”

“Pretty good, I think,” is my answer. 

My guess and target for sales were two, so my bar was relatively low for this first event. I exceeded my target by a fair percentage, selling two in about seventy minutes, with my best hour coming in the middle. I appreciate all the support for local artists from the people stopping by my booth and others!

I practiced my stump speech the two days leading up to the event, so I only stumbled over it a little instead of constantly and stayed out in front of my table nearly the entire time. I consider that a victory in itself with my people-nerves. 

Me with wings on and holding some of the little cakes from the participating bakery. Thanks for sharing them with me, family!

The experience and learnings were also invaluable. I’ve done it once; next time won’t be so scary. I also know what I need to work on: 

  1. Push for sales more. It is not “pushy” to tell them that I’m offering to sign any books they purchase at the event. That is, in fact, a great way to let them know they are talking to the author. 
  2. Push the newsletter sign-up. I forgot to do this too often, and those contacts are important. I need to offer this to every person who seems even remotely interested. 
  3. Put my card/bookmark in each book I sell. I started doing this later in the day. It is a great way to get my website and other such info into the hands of people who will hopefully be enjoying my book soon and might consider following me at a later date. 

My Favorite Part

It happened early into the evening with my first sale of the day. A young lady with her family stopped to talk with me, and my book was in her genre. She was interested in the book and got so excited to find out I was the author and would sign it for her. I ended up suggesting we get a picture together because this enthusiasm means so much to me. I wanted the picture as much as they did, if not more. I’m never sure about preferences for me using names; I will call her “B” here. 

Hi, B! I hope you enjoy the book!

And the Winner is…

Thank you to everyone who signed up for my newsletter and especially to everyone who entered the paperback giveaway! Please join me in congratulating the winner of my first-ever giveaway.

Congratulations Joni!

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

There will be more opportunities to win in the future, so be sure to sign-up for my newsletter and follow me on Facebook to stay in the know!

Signing Preparations

Another great way to get your copy of Hidden Memory signed is to bring it to the Meeker Street Nerd Party. If you happen to be in the Kent, WA area, stop by and visit. I will have copies for sale, just in case yours does not arrive in time.

In the weeks since booking this signing gig, I have been planning like crazy. Books were only the first order on the agenda. I ordered fifty, just to be safe. Taking guesses on how many I will sell from my darkened corner of the store? I said two, while my brother guessed highest at thirteen. If I sell fifty, the fiftieth will only cost that person $5 in celebration!

In addition to paperbacks, I will have bookmarks and cool wax seal stickers as giveaways.

Look how great the seal stamp turned out!

I also designed a poster to display on my signing table. It will have my cover art along with some quotes from early reviews. (If you haven’t left a review on Amazon yet, it’s not too late! *Wink*) My only concern about the event is it goes through dinner time. I will have to remember to bring snacks along. I hope to see some of you locals there!