Author Vending: Things to Consider Part I: Audience

I’ve been vending at events since 2018 when the owner of A Cappella Books refused to stock my self-published book and instead told me to get my name out there. He explained how hard it would be for me to sell my book in-store when no one knew who I was.

I wasn’t offended but encouraged, and I have since attended many events as a vendor to put myself out there. From his advice, I have also since been stocked in four stores in the Georgia area (Marietta, Morrow, Atlanta).

There is a message in this to revisit later, but for now, let’s talk about author vending.


Atlanta Decatur Book Festival

For independent authors, taking part in an event as a vendor can be lucrative (and I don’t just mean this financially). Utilizing the platform of another person will help you promote your books and business to a wider audience.

However, if we are not careful, it can also be an overly expensive and frustrating experience.

In this series, I share some of my experiences as an author vendor and some things to watch out for. In part one, I want to talk about the importance of the audience.

Audience

Author vending is not just about making money. It is also an opportunity to get in the room and build with others of like mind. But the ability to sell your books or services is still crucial.

You will have a harder time selling books if the event has little to nothing to do with books or your industry.

If you are vending at a conference or organization that is not conducive to people being able to walk around and network, this can also hinder you from making sales.

For example, in 2019, I attended MogulCon as a vendor. The event was nice but not a good place for author vendors. The tables were small, and the space was narrow. It was fitting for a business-type conference but not for my books, author swag, and large banner.

This was awkward. I didn’t know the set-up was going to be this way. I didn’t do my homework.

MogulCon was okay, but from an author vending perspective, it was a waste of money.

If I had known, I could have made it work by leaving the banner at home and bringing a briefcase instead.

Do Your Homework

When deciding to vend, understand what kind of event it is and the audience you will serve. Also, consider what kind of crowd you are looking at. You want to make sure there are enough people to network with and possibly make some money (or at least make your vending fee back.) And because the organization will likely not tell you your business isn’t a good fit, this is homework you will have to do yourself.

Crowd size is included in this. Does the event even have enough attendees for you to make a pitch, or is the host merely looking to maximize their profit from the few vendors they are able to bring in?

This is good practice for speaking engagements as well. Once, I was asked to speak at an event and prepared what I would say. But when I showed up, there were a lot of children. The host had not mentioned it was family-themed, and I had not intended to speak to kids. It could have been better organized, but I could have also done my homework on the host.

Events where you can engage with people are a plus!

So what kind of event is fitting for authors?

It depends on what your goal is for attending said event, but I believe that book festivals and conferences—that focus on books and literature—are the best because you won’t have to compete with the lady over there selling shea butter.

You can also target events that center around the theme of your book. Although many businesses were vending at the poetry life fest, it was appropriate for me to go because I write poetry. And to be true to my brand, I exclusively highlighted my poetry books. I only brought the books that were on topic.

Unlike MogulCon, the Poet Life Fest was best suited for my brand. My girl here is even matching the banner, ha!

Nowadays, there are a lot of requests for vendors because the income from the vending fee helps the organization pay for other expenses. When signing up, be strategic and intentional about who you work with.

It’s about being discerning and allowing that spiritual compass to lead you to the places you are ordained to be.

In part two, we’ll discuss the financial side of author vending and how to decide whether it’s worthwhile because the fees can be very expensive.


Check out more Indie Author Basics articles here.

Published by

Yecheilyah

I write to restore Black Historical Truth for the freedom of all people. Visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com and @yecheilyah on IG and Twitter.

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