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