How to market your book at expos

Cosplay fun to market your book

A very adorable cosplayer at Oz ComicCon

Australia has been enjoying an increase in pop-culture expos over recent years, and these can be a great place to market your book.

Cosplay. I first heard this term a few years ago when my sister said she was going to ‘cosplay’ to a place called ‘Supanova’. I figured this was some weird cult thing… ’cause you know, it’s my sister. Instead, I saw pictures of her dressed up as ‘dark Willow’ from Buffy the Vampire Slayer tv series — and she even got to meet James Marsters from the show!

Now my teen girls love attending these events in their favourite costumes (mostly Doctor Who outfits). This year we attended our first Oz ComicCon as stallholders. It was loads of fun, and my favourite event by far.

But these events are not just fun, they’re also a perfect way to meet readers, writers and other industry professionals. You can sell and market your book to a specific crowd. Oz ComicCon was a real family event, and this meant there were lots and lots of potential readers for me. I signed over a hundred books.

Want to market your book at an event? Here’s my tips:

  1. friends at comic conChoose the event to suit your book. Who is your customer and which shows would they attend? Romance novels based on weddings, would do well at a wedding expo, the visitors are mostly female and obviously interested in weddings and most likely romantics. Oz ComicCon was a great choice for me because of the zombie aspect of my book and there were lots of children.
  2. Stock up. I always seem to order my stock right before the event. Don’t do this! Get in early and make sure you’ve got enough stock, you don’t want to run out and lose readers after paying for your stall.
  3. Have freebies. I take magnets to give away and promote the book. I get these printed through Vistaprint very cheaply, and each one includes my website address, or a QR code. I give them away freely. I am careful not to make the image look solely like an advertisement, because people (especially kids) would be less likely to even want them. You could also try bookmarks.
    market your book
  4. Follow up sales. I also have postcards printed up (Vistaprint), which promote the book, include a blurb and all necessary contact details to make it easy for someone to order books after the show.
  5. Signage. Get something bright that incorporates the colours of your covers. Pick a nice big one, most stands are about two metres wide.

    The Doctor has two Claras - awkward!

    The Doctor has two Claras – awkward!

  6. Price wisely. Choose the right price point. There are a lot of books available, but most people would think $10 is a bargain for a children’s book. Make sure the price is clear from a distance, put it on a sign. Customers can be nervous about approaching if they don’t know the price.
  7. Dress it up. A plain fold-out table looks unprofessional. Place fabric down to match the theme or colours of your book covers. When in doubt, black or white work fine. I use green fur and purple tulle.
  8. Bring back-up. Although my kids spend most of their time off exploring, it is good to have someone to mind the stand for bathroom breaks and fetch me a cuppa every now and then.
  9. Chat don’t sell. When people come up to my stand I chat about the costumes and celebrities at the show. I don’t jump into a sales pitch for the book. Just make them feel welcome to come and have a sticky-beak. Most people will then choose to turn the conversation to your book by asking questions.
  10. Display the book. Don’t leave all the books lying flat on the table. I have some books sitting upright on top of stacks of books, so they’re easy to spot at a distance (these are my own copies that I feel comfortable bending). The other copies are stacked and fanned out at the front of the table, so no matter where a person stands, they’ll be right in front of a copy.
  11. Get to know the other stand-holders. It’s such a supportive environment. I sold a few books to other people with stands at the show, and even did a couple of book swaps with authors. It’s also a great way to network.
  12. Oz Comic-Con

    Bruce Wayne’s parents

    Build an email list. This is something I didn’t do, but will include next time. By having an email sign-up sheet at your stand, you can build a list of future customers and let them know when you have a new book out. Anthony Puttee from Book Cover Cafe has all the best advice on how to create and use an email sign-up sheet: Building your email list at live events

  13. Get in the spirit. You don’t have to dress up, but it’s a lot of fun and the guests enjoying seeing the costumes. So, have fun with it!
Emma Caulfield and Nicholas Brendon from Buffy, posing with the girls.

Emma Caulfield and Nicholas Brendon from Buffy, posing with the girls.

Cosplay is not just for events — recently, the teachers at my school came dressed as superheroes to help amuse stressful yr12 students sitting exams. I’m there as Captain Hammer…

teachers dressed as superheroes

The Business of Writing – becoming an independent author/publisher

The 2014 Gold Coast Writers Festival was a great event for both emerging writers and industry professionals, and I was honoured to be invited to present on the business of writing.the business of writing

Writing is a craft, one that grows from inspiration and is developed with technique and skills. Creative-minded people such as authors are sometimes not comfortable with the business side of publishing. Commercialising your art does not mean compromising your artistic integrity.  But even if you intend to go through the traditional publishing path, you’ll still need to handle of lot of the business of writing yourself.

During my presentation I took attendees through the steps of setting up their author/publisher business in Australia. There are a few websites to visit, links to access and forms to fill in during the process for obtaining an ABN (Australian Business Number), securing a business name and registering as an official publishing business. To make this simpler to remember and follow, I’ve created a booklet, The Business of Writing providing all the necessary links and information to get you started. You’ll find the PDF booklet available at the end of this post.

The Gold Coat Writers Festival

Gold Coat Writers FestivalAs part of the ‘Authors in Schools’ initiative of the Gold Coast Festival, fourteen professional authors visited various schools around the Gold Coast, holding writing workshops with the students. I worked with Merrimac State High School students in a fun and productive writing session. During our workshop, I showed the students how to warm up their creative muscles, plan an entire plot for a short story in under five minutes, and write from unusual prompts.

I think the main tip I provided which had a huge impact was to start a short story right at the problem. authors in schools programDon’t lead up to it, just get there. And wow. The students provided some amazing examples of great openings for a story.

The next day I presented at the Gold Coast Writers Festival, alongside some very talented authors and highly respected professionals in the world of writing and publishing. In my session, we not only explored the steps to setting up your publishing business, but workshopped some marketing ideas using a volunteer from the audience as an example. It was so much fun and I could have talked all day (and I probably would have if my time didn’t run out!).

The Business of Writing

Download your free PDF booklet by clicking on the image below. This booklet contains all the steps I took to set up my publishing business: Hot Doggy Digital Press. As I stipulated in my workshop, there are other avenues you could take when setting up your business or publishing your works. I’m just sharing the things that have worked well for me.

The Business of Writing

Top 15 Book Launch Ideas – and zombies!

Stuck for book launch ideas?book launch ideas

Saturday 7th June saw the rise of UNDEAD KEV, the second book in the ‘Zane and Kev versus Everything‘ series. The morning started out pleasantly, it was sunny and cheerful in the little book store cafe at Black Cat Books. Children and fellow writers were gathering around to see the unveiling of the next Charmaine Clancy novel, when suddenly… a hoard, mob, gaggle? of zombies bombarded the processions and attacked the crowd… with good cheer and prizes.

Deadna Edna, Mave from the Grave, and Zombie Flombie (what? all the good zombie names were already taken), greeted guests, prepared delicious snacks and handed out raffle tickets for the prize draw.

book launch ideas

It was a great day, I signed many book and got to meet with friends and fans. I also received a lot of compliments on my launch, so here’s my top 15 book launch ideasbook launch ideas

Book Launch Ideas

  1. Theme. Choose a theme for your launch; it will make it easy to tie everything together. I went with a spooky Halloween theme–I had lots of orange and black, spiderweb cupcakes, and zombie launch ideas
  2. Location. Book your location and date early–you can’t promote the book launch until you’ve locked in the where and when. Make sure your location will fit the numbers you hope to attract (but not be so big that the room looks empty if you don’t get enough guests).
  3. Order stock. Bring lots of books for your launch, some people buy multiple copies, so it’s best to have too many rather than not enough.
  4. Enticements. What can you offer guests to entice them along? Food always works for me. But you could also have competitions and prizes, or gift bags (I made up bookmarks, laminated them, punched a hole in the end and added ribbon. These went in the goody bag with a lollypop, orange balloon and a flyer for my next kids writing workshop). Make sure the offer suits your target market — No point offering alcohol at a kids event.
  5. Entertainment. Other than tell guests all about you and your book, what can you do to entertain them? Raffles are popular, you could have a band play, or zombie caterers. Kaz Delaney even had a fortune teller at her launch for Almost Dead.
  6. Introductions. Get someone to introduce you. It looks professional, and if they’ve a good sense of humour, they’ll warm up the crowd for you.
  7. Brevity. Keep your talk short, especially if you’re launching a kids book. Attention spans wander quickly.
  8. Share the focus. Don’t make it all about you, put some focus on the guests. Ask them questions, be conversational, or give away launch ideas
  9. Appreciation. People have gone out of their way to support you. Many of my guests gave up other activities, struggled with daily hiccups, or even travelled all the way from the Gold Coast to attend my launch. They deserved a thank you!
  10. Advertising material. Design simple promotional images including necessary details for guests to book into and attend your launch (where, when and how). If you’re not design savvy, search images in Go
    ogle for book launches and copy someone else’s design. You can use the free site: Picmonkey to create an image with text. Keep with your theme for design and colour.
  11. Signage. Put a sign up in the window of your event location. You can print up images of your book cover, laminate them and stick them up everywhere. For a more professional sign, you can cheap ones from Vistaprint–put your name and ‘meet the author’ on them!
  12. Promote. Facebook Event page. Use your image as a header and invite anyone local to attend. Blog about the launch, ask others to mention it, or even contact your local paper (if you ca think of a story spin for your launch). Black Cat Books also promoted the launch for me, by sending out details to their email list.
  13. Plan–or don’t plan the details. Personally, I like to wing my talks in presentations. I knew I’d introduce the book and read an excerpt, but I didn’t plan what I would actually say. I’m comfortable presenting, if you’re not, you might like a script.
  14. Inscriptions. Plan what you’ll write in the books when you sign them. I try to come up with something funny and draw a little doodle. I’d hate to try and make stuff up while signing, it would take me forever and I’d make spelling errors under the pressure of the moment. Have a notepad handy to let fans write their name down. You don’t want to misspell names!
  15. Activities. Keep the kids busy. While parents were mingling, I had a kids writing activity–there were laminated cards with names of monsters and harmless or cute things, so the kids could mix them up to get weird and funny monsters (like Alien teddy-bears).

Hope some of these book launch ideas help you plan your next launch. Perhaps you have some tips or suggestions, I’d love to hear what things you’ve tried, so why not share your book launch ideas too!

More pics from the book launch:

Nicholas Lochel author of Zarkora


book launch crowd