This month saw me hosting my first ever author stand at a literary event. Well, to be fair, it was a mini literary event set within a rather large fantasy convention. This year’s FantastiCon event, a sci-fi and fantasy convention, was held in the city of Hull, just a stone’s throw away from me. Within the convention was also a LitFest, for authors of all genres to attend and promote their work.
This was a first for me but, fresh from an author reading last month at East Riding Theatre and which seemed to go down pretty well, I thought, why not? The author package included a full day’s pass to the FantastiCon event, an author table and a video trailer for your book. You can see my trailer for Love on the Nile here.
Now, the first sticking point for me was how best to promote by two novels at an author stand when my books are actually ebooks. I did a lot of internet research trying to find various ideas but the majority of information and advice I came across was focussed on digital marketing of books, rather than practical advice about how to promote my book face to face at an event. In the end, I gathered together my usual promotional material – bookmarks, business cards, postcards and keyrings, and used these, along with acrylic info stands introducing myself as an author and highlighting the award I had won for Beauty and the Recluse. I thought these stands would add height and interest to an otherwise rather flat display.
I had also read on another author’s blog once that she had given away promotional lip balm as this was something that people were likely to keep in their handbags and serve as a reminder. I quite liked this idea, so I bought a lip balm kit, made from natural materials, quite cheaply at a craft shop and made my own lip balms – so easy to make – and printed off some labels for the top with ‘Ellie Gray, Contemporary Romance’ on the
top, and a list of the ingredients for the bottom. I scattered these around my author table and they seemed to go down really well.
I felt somewhat out of my comfort zone at first among some rather full-on fantasy and sci-fi fans – getting into character was very much order of the day, with Daleks, Stormtroopers and various other fantastical characters walking around – but everyone was very welcoming and happy to chat. I am always amazed by the support from the literary community and met some lovely authors who were also taking part in the LitFest.
Highlight of the day was meeting and chatting to Royd Tolkein, grand-nephew of the great man himself, who gave a very moving and emotional talk about how he spent the last two years caring for his brother who recently died from ALS, a form of motor neurone disease. His brother left him a bucket list of 50 challenges to complete and Royd is planning on writing a book and producing a film chronicling his journey as he attempts all 50 challenges – the list has not been shared with him yet so he has no idea what they are! You can find out more about this on Royd’s website – roydtolkein.me
Although I wasn’t expecting to sell many books, I saw it much more of an opportunity to build up contacts and networks, which I certainly managed to do, I have seen an increase in sales as a result, so I would definitely recommend it, even if like me your books are ebooks. I shall certainly be taking part in next year’s event.
Right now, I’m getting ready for my annual ‘writing get-away’ with my author friend – I can’t believe it’s been a year already! Look forward to telling you all about it soon.