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The Art of Vending


As a self published author you’ll find that the best way to sell your books is to participate in book fairs and other vending opportunities. One the one hand, you set up a table and wait for the public to arrive. However, there are a few things you need to do to increase the odds of selling books once they arrive. Your table should be inviting and have some kind of incentive to get people to stop and look at your book. You can hold a raffle, have a bowl of candy,  give away pens or bookmarks.

Beyond the look of the table, you should look nice too. There is no specific author uniform but you should look your best. I typically dress in similar fashion as the people coming to the event. When vending, you can’t be shy. You must be prepared to get up from your chair and walk around to the front of the table to talk to people. During slow times, walk around and talk to the other vendors. Exchange business cards and maybe even buy a book or two. Often, authors will do a trade if you have books that are similarly priced or in the same genre.

If there is an opportunity to speak at the event, by all means volunteer to be a guest speaker or panelist. Afterwards, you can direct people to your table and to your books. If at all possible, bring someone with you who can act as your front man or cashier. That way you can focus on making connections. Here’s a short list of things to make your vending experience a pleasant one.

  1. Make a dry run to the venue a day before to make sure you know how to get there. 
  2. Find the room and see where your table will be set up.
  3. On the day of; arrive early and park in the designated parking spots.
  4. Always travel with a table, chairs, tablecloths and tent, even if these things are provided. Mistakes happen and you want to be able to set up when you arrive.
  5. Bring your own change and receipt book.
  6. Provide bags and stuff them with promotional literature.
  7. Have ample business cards on hand.
  8. Be able to process credit card payments.
  9. Give something away.
  10. Give a speech or perform a reading if the option is given.

A few more tips that will help you get through a long day of vending.  Make sure to get plenty of sleep the night before for morning events. Drink plenty of water all day to stay properly hydrated. Practice deep breathing and other relaxation techniques if you get nervous speaking to people. Remember to smile and ask questions in an attempt to build rapport with everyone who visits your table.

Until Next Week,

Nicole D. P. McLaughlin


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