I’m sure many of you have traveled because you’ve published a book. You must do signings, conventions, and appearances to help push your products to audiences and hopefully gain some new readers at the same time. I have done events in the past, probably more, but the biggest worry I had was how to prepare. What should I have with me? What would I need? How can I make sure I’m as ready as possible.The questions can mount quickly, especially for a someone doing their first event. Here are some tips to help you accomplish an event prep.

Plan Ahead

Before packing I highly recommend making an inventory list of everything that you can mark off as you’re packing. A single convention can take months to prepare for. Buying copies of your book, merch, and everything you’ll need to simply take with you.

Also before you start packing I recommend checking out the hotel’s website. See what they offer you, look closely at the rooms’ pictures on the website to get a good feel for what you may need. I brought my own coffee after finding out the coffee wasn’t very good or strong once.

Know your event’s schedule, what you will have to pay out of pocket for (like parking), and addresses to put into your GPS device.

Be Santa Clause

  • Make a itemized list of everything you’ll be taking, every item of clothing to every tiny piece of merch. You’ll be checking it twice if not three times.

Luggage

  • There’s a saying that the more totes, the bigger the truck, or if there’s a trailer behind a vehicle the bigger the vendor. From what I’ve witness it’s true. The more you have to pack the more you’ll use to haul the luggage and bins around.

Recommended Items to Pack/Don’t Forget

  • Three outfits per day. Some may call this much, but you never know what could happen. Hate to be the person walking around with the breakfast spill on your shirt all day. You’ll need one for event and if you feel like you need to change before dinner it’s best to have something different. Vendors sometimes have dinner together after a day of convention work.
  • Big bins are your best friend.
  • If you’re going to a convention or signing event in another state, the best advice I ever was given was to take no less than 50 of the first in a series with 25 or 30 copies of the rest of the books in the series. 50 copies of every other book you plan on taking with you. You may not sell everything or anything, but the best plan is plan to have more than you need just in case.
  • Take a laptop, its cords, its charger, and anything you need to have that laptop function. Whether its to play a book trailer on it, for someone to shop online for a book you may not have, or for you to use a laptop is key.
  • Bring a power strip. Sometimes you’re only given an outlet near your table, a power strip is the best thing to maximize its usages. Do remember not all places will provide power for your space, but if they do this is a must have.
  • Make sure you have a folding table. Some places will provide a table for you, but most of the time no. Make sure you take your table as a back-up.
  • Remember your ‘swag’ or your merch. Either to sell or to give out.
  • Don’t forget your tablecloth and/or signage. If you have a table cloth to fit the above mentioned table, great! Sometimes you don’t need it, but it’s always to get one. Sometimes the tables, if they supply, are rough and you want to make your spot ideal as possible. Signage is great to tell who you are, what you’re selling, or where they can get freebies! Also a table cloth is real handy in hiding any big blue colorful totes you used to haul your items indoors before the convention or signing began.
  • Bring display cases or book stands! This is option depending on what you want your space to look like. Shelving helps hold many items, especially if you have a lot of things and a small bit of space up front. A table can have books laying down on them, but a stand that’s upright can beautifully showcase your work.
  • Bring your business cards and their holder!
  • Phone and charger.
  • I’ve been told 50-100 petty cash, lock box for your money, a receipt book, and whatever device you need to make online sales through your phone or laptop.
  • Any table decoration you want to liven up your book displays, hold your swag on, and things that draw attention.

It seems like a lot, good because it is. Over time it’ll be routine though. You’ll be alright.


Quick Reminder Tips/Final Advice

What I did before traveling was to pre-pack everything in my tote and bags. This gave me a good idea how much room I was going to need before packing my vehicle. It also allowed me to head out first thing in the morning without worrying. First timers may not have much, I had a single tote once with two suitcases that held my clothing and my important items.

Remember as you’re packing to mark off your itemized inventory list (the thing mentioned earlier before the list here) and don’t get rid of it, pack it too. When you go to pack up to go home you will then have the list of everything you packed and reuse it as a checklist to make sure you pack everything up and nothing is left behind.

My first convention I ended up taking my table, one big blue tote with everything in it, two large bags of clothing (my husband/helper came with me) my laptop, and all my other items. I did an event locally to raise money for a school nearby. Took my tote, table, tablecloth, and all the books and items I had at the time. I also asked other indies to send me some of the swag they give out for free so I could help them spread the word locally.

After the event ended I got some sleep, and then was up again working on a story in the middle of the night ignoring the sounds from the hallway. I was posting on my social media through my laptop since I didn’t have a better phone at the time. As my husband was driving I also caught some more sleep.

Some authors give out candy, I don’t recommend it. I have talked to me that tried this and discovered that people would come up to grab the candy and keep going. It brings people to the table, yes, but not to stay, not to buy, and not to talk for longer than it takes to get themselves a few pieces. I’m sure some would disagree with me on this though.


Worried how to get hold of some of the items mentioned, like swag items? Don’t worry I’ll be doing another post about swag/merch help.

Did this piece help you? Let me know in the comments! I knew this was something I was going to eventually post. I haven’t done many events, but this mainly what I do, advice I’ve been given and practiced, and recommend. Got a piece of advice I forgot?Let me know!

From the outside, one could easily look at the independent and self-publishing community as weird, a big joke, or even bizarre. Through my years of jumping from self-published, to being signed to a small press, and back again I have seen many conflicts arise. Authors/writers becoming upset in a vague post or this person saying something or that person not understanding. I can understand fully how frustrating it is and can be.

I wanted to write this in hopes of helping someone, anyone, to understand some of the common things you’ll see, hear, or experience from the outside looking in.

It’s easy and they’re lazy

The professionals among us would argue this until we’re blue in the face. There is nothing easy about what we do. Some parts might come easier to us than others, but that’s just life. Those of us that take this very serious talk about ‘the marathon and not the sprint’. Those that come into the field that sprint to the end (publishing) make more mistakes than those of us that understand the long game, the marathon. Mistake over mistake will eventually get noticed, by the community and readers. This is not easy! In it for the long run is hard, tedious, and so worth it for us.

It’s not a real job

What makes it ‘not a real job?’ We pay taxes (yearly or quarterly). We put hours in (months or even years on a single project). If anything many of us will learn multiple skills along the way. For example: When I began self-publishing I hard to learn marketing, formatting, video editing, new art programs, learn new techniques to keep up with trends and pace of others marketing, and learn better ways to time-manage, stick to a schedule, and how to work with the not so friendly co-worker. Sure sounds like a job to me!

They’re all coffee-addicts

Maybe…but what else are we suppose to use when we need to be rejuvenated? A lot of us like to joke, does that mean we’re not able to take things seriously too?

Self-published books aren’t that good, the quality just sucks

If you’ve come across one that isn’t of decent quality then frankly that dear reader is an author that tried to sprint or hired a non-professional to work on their book. Many books, done by professionals, are highly checked, scanned, edited, formatted, and the whole process before publishing happened. Even then, sometimes just sometimes, a misspelling will get through. That misspelling is a warrior god that made it through many rounds of a battle and more than anything should be given a great feast.

Small book press are just scams

Lies! Vanity presses are scammers and are not the same as a small book or independent publishing house.

Self-published, hybrid published, or independently published writers really don’t have talent.  If they had any they’d be traditionally published.

That’s a big ol’ negatory. There have been many traditionally published authors that have decided to go self-publish or chose to go to a smaller press for various reasons. Does that mean they’re not talented? Many chose to publish self or go to an indie press because that’s what they wanted. If a smaller press picked them they had to have some amount of talent to have gotten their manuscript picked up.

Participation Time!

What are myths that you have come across or even though? Let’s get a discussion going!