The Pros and Cons of Author Vending

I enjoy networking with readers, other authors and business people present at conferences and festivals. One of the many ways I have access to these opportunities is through vending. Today, I would like to share a few of the pros and cons of author vending.

What is author vending?

To put it simply, author vending is when authors partner with an organization to reserve a space where they can sell their books/services/products, usually at a book festival or conference. Vending is not new and is something other businesses do all the time. The benefits of vending are numerous but there can also be some challenges for Independent Authors. As usual, I base this on my own experience which may very well differ from other authors.

Con: Financial Risk

“Consider the benefits and risks to your business when deciding to exhibit your product or service. These will be different for each event. Choosing the wrong trade show to exhibit your business’s products or services can result in displaying to the wrong audience. Poor promotion can mean the costs of attending the trade show outweigh any revenue you gain.” – Business Queensland

When you are a vendor, it means you have paid to reserve a table at an event where you will sell your books/products/services. Sometimes these costs can be very expensive. The authors must be careful not to “overpay to play.” I’ve seen tables costs as much as $600. This money could easily go toward good editing instead or the publishing of another book entirely. Authors should consider that not only will they reserve a table, but they will also  buy books and author swag for the table and travel to the event. Before saying yes to vending, consider the financial benefits and potential challenges. Ask:

  • Do I have enough funds to cover books, attendance, display and other associated costs

 

  • Have I worked out how many prospects and readers I will need to obtain to generate a return on my investment

 

  • Have I researched/visited/asked questions about the event at which I am contemplating exhibiting and am I confident that a suitable number of people will attend

 

  • Have I worked out a way to capture people’s attention (*This is important. I see a lot of authors at expos  looking down at their phones or just looking bored. They sit at the table for the entire time and rarely communicate with the people walking by. Then, at the conclusion, these same authors are upset because they sold no books. The people are not just going to come to you. Chances are you are not famous and no one owes you a thing. Stop being lazy, get up, and represent yourself.

Any author who wishes to be a vendor must be sure to research the event, understand what is included in the package, and know what they are looking to gain from the experience. If the goal is only to sell books, the author(s) should consider hosting something at their local library where the table is free or collaborating with other authors to cover the price of the table.

The primary purpose of vending (as I have found it) is the chance to network and get your name out there. It is a discoverability strategy. While an author can sell books, how many books are sold depends on the strength of that author’s network. More on that on the next con point.

Pro: Networking Opportunity

“Face-to-face communication builds the most memorable brand awareness. Last year our expos had hundreds of people walk through the door. Expos centralize a local audience that will be most receptive and ready to learn. This might be a rare occurrence for your industry depending on where you are geographically. You’ll have an opportunity to connect with new people and reconnect with those already invested in your brand.” – Peter O’Donnell, 4 Key Benefits of Becoming a Vendor

One of the major benefits of being an author vendor is the chance to network with individuals you probably would not have met or had the chance to speak with before. It is a chance to get your name out there in the public and expose your brand to people face-to-face. Last year, I spoke with the owner of Acapella Books in Atlanta when I was shopping my books around bookstores. First, he denied stocking my book, but he told me why and while it hurt my ego, I had to listen to sound advice:

“Your book will only get lost among the hundreds of celebrity authors’ books in the store. The best thing you can do right now is to get your name out there. Are you attending the Decatur Book Festival?”

I told him I was. I wasn’t a vendor, but I would be in attendance. He said good and to start there. He told me to “focus on building your platform and getting your name out there.”

Conferences and Book Festivals attract an array of media depending on the host of the event. You have the potential to meet editors, agents, publishers, celebrity authors and corporate influencers.

I don’t care what the experts say, online will never be as good as face-to-face contact and connection. Giving your readers a chance to meet you in person adds a special kind of value. “People see the truth in you through your actions, personality, and in how genuine you are with them.” (Greg Dabbs, Business Development Manager) They get to hear your voice, see your face outside of photos, ask questions, give advice, laugh and get to know you more personally.

The chances of pitching are significantly higher when you position yourself to be present at these events. You get to practice your sales pitch, research competition and increase the chances of collaboration opportunities. It is not all about money. At a decent rate vending can be the boost you need to jump-start your business. Financial investment in yourself is something you will need to consider in your career at some point anyway. Whether that is vending at a notable event or paying for professional author photos, it is something you will need to do at some point.

It is about showing up and being an author vendor is one of the easiest ways to show up, to get out and connect with people.

Con: Difficult for New/Unknown Indie Authors

Author vending is the opportunity for you to connect with your readers. It gives them the chance to meet with you face-to-face, to take pictures with you, to buy paperback copies of your books, or to have books signed they already bought. But it could be even more challenging for new/unknown Indie Authors.

“No one will come to your book reading/signing unless you are already famous. The packed author readings on the news are only packed because the author is already very well known. Book readings at bookstores are among the worst uses of time for a new author.” – Writing Well

While I don’t believe you have to be famous to do a book signing/reading for people to support you (I do well at signings and I am certainly no one famous), there is some truth in this quote. While the chances of people buying are higher in person because physical presence increases trust, authors who have multiple books out and who have already built a strong platform and audience before vending will do much better. People will already know who they are, and readers will come out to support them.

Paying money to reserve a table at an author event when you are a new author no one knows, when you have done no work to promote the event to your audience or where you have not built an audience will be like posting your Amazon buy link on social media hoping people will take a chance on an unknown author. While some people will (I usually do but I’m nice like that 🙂 ) this kind of “Hope Marketing,” rarely works. Vending is usually not free, and the money is usually nonrefundable.

Before you spend money on reserving a table, focus on publishing more books and developing a relationship with your readers so that when you do an event people will come out to support you. Now do not misunderstand me, a first-time author can certainly do well at signings and events but only because that author already have people who are willing to support him/her from previous works.

Pro: Invitations for More Work

Photo Copyright ©2019. The Velvet Note | Velvet Voices. Yecheilyah Ysrayl.
I read somewhere that “the reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more,” (Dr.Jonas Salk). The biggest benefit to author vending is that eventually, you will not have to look for opportunities. Opportunities will find you. It was at the Atlanta African American Book Festival that I was asked to participate in Velvet Voices, The Velvet Note Jazz club’s new and first Author/Word event. People will remember you and reach out to you for other projects. They may even ask you to be a vendor at another event. This is significant because once people reach out to you, the ball is in your court. You get to decide the terms of your acceptance. Can your table be free of cost/discounted? Can they pay you to speak? Can they purchase your ticket if the place is not in your home city/state? What is it you require for your presence? The idea here is to one day graduate from vending alone to being requested and paid to speak as well.

This is the beginnings of earning the passive income you want to help to leverage the income from your book royalties. These days, you need the additional income that comes from other streams of income related to your writing.

You may not think people are paying attention, but they are. Author vending is a great way to give a very good first-person impression that can lead to an even bigger opportunity and business partnership.

Pro/Con – Organizer / Host

It is important to ask, who is the organizer/host? The person(s) behind the event is a big deal. You want to make sure the organization or cause is something you can get behind. Vending is a big deal these days and it shouldn’t escape authors that it is also a way for businesses and organizations to make money. Choosing to be a vendor is not just about meeting new people and exposing your business, it is also about investment. Vending is an investment in yourself and an investment in the company or organization hosting the event.

The people behind the event can make this a Pro if the organization is well organized, grounded, relatively known and actively promoting the event and its participants.

The people behind the event can make this a Con if the event host is unorganized, the event is poorly promoted (bad for you if you paid for a table and are looking to turn a profit) and does little to nothing to promote the event and its participants.

It is not about jumping on every so-called opportunity available to authors. It is about being strategic and intentional with every decision you make regarding your book business.

When you are asked, invited or when you take part in a vending opportunity, be sure you connect with an organization that is relatable to the goals and the purpose you have set for yourself, that the vision of the organization is something you can support and rally behind and that they will work just as hard for you as you intend to work for them. Vending is a partnership and partnerships are not one-way streets. Or at least they shouldn’t be.

Major Cons

  • Can be costly
  • Not a wise investment for new authors with no audience
  • Can be hectic and stressful (requires a lot of work)
  • Can be overwhelming
  • Can sometimes go downhill

Every marketing platform has advantages and disadvantages. Don’t let the disadvantages of author vending discourage you from participating in exhibitions and reaping the benefits of it. Just do your research first.

Major Pros.

  • Exposure to a wider set of audience
  • Creates brand awareness
  • Increases credibility
  • Promotes brand loyalty
  • Helps in Networking

I am vending at this year’s 4th Annual MogulCon event on October 26, 2019, from 9:00a – 3:00p at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center. I would love to meet you there. The purpose of the MogulCon women’s business conference is to educate and assist diverse businesses on how to connect and position themselves in the marketplace. The goal is to create economic opportunities and position them with corporations and large companies to help them grow and scale. Come out and meet successful entrepreneurs and corporate influencers when you register for the 3-day event taking place October 24-26th. (I’ll see you on the 26th!)

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Pay Attention

Don’t forget to clean up your environment. Pay attention to how being around certain people makes you feel. Do you suddenly feel drained or negative? Mad? Irritated? Are these people always complaining? Do they reach out to you just to share bad news? Is it always about them? Are they interested in your life at all?  Remember that we cannot grow in the same environment that broke us. Only surround yourself with people who lift you up, empower you and challenge you to become the best version of yourself.

Ice Breaker Challenge – Introduce Yourself!

Ice Breaker Challenge

I saw this on Facebook and thought it would be a great way for bloggers to actually get to know each other! We know there are fakes out here so I’m calling everyone out. Put your pen where the truth is. Here’s your chance to verify your identity. Let’s break the ice.

Answer the following questions honestly on your own blog. Link back to this blog so we can see everyone’s post. Use the hashtag #Icebreaker. You can also leave a link to your blog in the comments if you want! This will be my last post until the weekend. Let’s take this time to get to know each other. You’re not doing anything at work anyway. Besides, it’s lunchtime. I’ll go first.

(Note. Yes, you can number your questions. I had to edit mine out due to technical difficulties in my WordPress dashboard).

Are you named after someone? Yes, middle name after my grandmother Marguerite.

When is the last time you cried? Two days ago.

Do you like your handwriting? No, only in notebooks.

What is your favorite lunch meat? Turkey, thinly sliced.

How many kids do you have? Two with my husband, none biologically.

If you were another person, would you be friends with you? Sure lol.

Do you use sarcasm? Yea. Sorry.

Do you still have your tonsils? These questions are weird but yes.

Would you bungee jump? No. Not. Ever.

What is your favorite cereal? Captain Crunch.

Do you untie your shoes when you take them off? No. My shoe strings are usually tucked in.

Do you think you are strong? I have to be.

What is your favorite ice cream? Every kind. It just has to be ice cream period.

What is the first thing you notice about people? Eyes.

Red or pink?  Neither. Browns, Greens, Beiges. Earth tones.

What is the least favorite thing you like about yourself? Too trusting, take things too personal.

What color pants and shoes are you wearing right now? Blue jeans, black house shoes

What was the last thing you ate? Chicken Tacos

What are you listening to right now?  My thoughts.

If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Brown or Burnt Orange

What are your favorite smells? Fresh Linen and Fruity scented candles, my husband’s cologne.

Who was the last person you spoke to on the phone? Hubby 😍😍

Favorite sport to watch? Track & Field, Basketball

Real hair color? Brown

Eye color? Brown

Do you wear contacts? No.

Favorite food to eat? Pasta Bruschetta.

Scary movies or happy endings? Both. (What’s a scary movie?)

Last movie you watched? Look Who’s Talking Too 😂 lol.

What color shirt are you wearing? Green

Summer or winter? Summer

Hugs or kisses? Both.

What book are you reading? House of The Hanging Jade by  Amy Reade

What is on your mousepad? I don’t know. Its in the other room.

What is the last TV program you watched? Queen Sugar.

What is the best sound? Birds in the morning, and crickets and grasshoppers in the country at night.

Rolling Stones or The Beatles? Neither. Temptations.

What is the farthest you have traveled? Jamaica.

Do you have a special talent? Yes.

Where were you born? Chicago

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Copy, and paste these questions in your own blog and do it yourself! Don’t forget to use #Icebreaker and link back so we can see. ☺️

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – “Passing Pebbles”

Welcome back to another episode of Writer’s Quote Wednesday as hosted by Colleen of Silver Threading and Ronovan of Ronovan Writes. It feels good to be back I must say. In my country voice “How yall?”

It also appears I have returned to a new challenge! Here are the new rules:

Each week we will include a theme for anyone who needs additional inspiration. You don’t have to follow our theme if you don’t want to. It is optional.

In fact, Ronovan and I will alternate each week with a themed prompt post written on Silver Threading. This will give you a different perspective weekly to keep your inspiration flowing. Make sure and join us. You never know what we will come up with!

So what do you do?

You select a quote that inspires you. Then, write a short piece of flash fiction or poetry to share with us all using the quote either in your story or as the title of your masterpiece. You can include photos, photo quotes, or anything else that helps to highlight your quote. – Colleen

****************

Sounds exciting!

My writer’s inspiration today comes from an unknown author. I have decided to include a poem with my quote:

image

Huge mountains
and great hills
They tower above our heads
Like mothers to sons
The intimidating weight
Of experience
To our youth
Like a father’s instruction
Heavy with discipline
Is the carved stone
The frightening rock
But it is true
We can move mountains
If we tried
If we faith-ed
One pebble at a time
One pen to a rhyme
One stuttering syllable
And leaking ink
We scatter stumbling blocks
Like children at play
Except
There are no toys
No plastic dolls
Or wind up cars
Just similes
And metaphors
passing pebbles
And conquering mountains

***********

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And that’s it for my contribution to Writer’s Quote Wednesday New Challenge Edition.

Something You Didn’t Know – Open Invitation BlogShare

Something You Didn't Know-PBS

We had quite the drive to Chicago. As a result, my brother came up with a great road trip idea:

Go around the car and each person reveals something about themselves that they didn’t think anyone knew. It was a challenge because we all know each other pretty well but we managed to create enough laughs for memory sake. So anyway, I thought it would be a great idea for a blog-share. (I also want to do this because the internet is so filled with phonies and fakes, but here’s a chance for us to be real with one another. It is the only way to grow.)

So, on your own blog, create a post of your choice that tells us something about you that we didn’t already know. Try to be specific to what can’t be found on your blog or its about page. It can be a short story, a poem, a collection of pictures, or just a small paragraph.

Tag your post #SomethingUDidntKnow and

 
Pingback to this post so that I see it and can respond and tweet it for you.
Be sure to visit other people’s blogs, like, and re-blog so that others can get in on the fun

 
My own “Something You Didn’t Know” will follow this post. I first want to give you each the opportunity to understand the rules and tag your post accordingly. (*Try to limit your tags to 15 including categories which act as tags also. This will ensure others will see your post).

 
So, who’s up for a challenge? I know you’re not gonna leave me hanging here are you? C’mon! Tell us something we didn’t know!