So, last Saturday me and the Caribou spent 7 hours in hard plastic seats at a hard plastic table, which we'd arranged as attractively as we could, with my VistaPrint banner dominating the floor to one side and smaller table posters, stacks of books, piles of bookmarks and author contact cards, and a sign up sheet for my monthly newsletter. The venue was the Breslin Center, which is Michigan State University's big sports center, home of our NBA often-winning Spartans. The Breslin had been taken over (thus the event name Breslin Takeover) by a kid's carnival, petting zoo, dunk tanks, face painting, other fun stuffs, and vendor tables. Things I learned at the vendor tables:
* Small adorable children are attracted to brightly colored books and will happily stuff them in their tote bags at any opportunity. This is followed by a sheepish conversation with the parents that the books are not, in fact, freebies.
* A table just outside the restrooms SOUNDS promising, since everyone eventually answers the call of nature, but we didn't count on the gawdawful loud hand drying blower machines, which brought conversation to a screeching halt every time someone dealt with their hygiene.
* Selling kid's books for $3.00 is a good deal but people will BUY them when you offer 2 for $5.00. This left me with a net profit of minus 23 cents a book, but hey! Books in kid's hands are good, right?
* Next time, bring snacks. And water. We found some, but it took some doing.
*People are honestly, genuinely thrilled when you offer to sign their book purchase. Most don't actually put two and two together and realize they are speaking with the author until that's said, in spite of my name being literally on everything and my introducing myself to each visitor to my table. That's kinda fun.
* Buddy systems for tables are vital. You need bathroom breaks (and boy did I abuse that hand blower dryer just to get even with everyone), plus, you need to walk around and find the OTHER authors to introduce yourself and give them some support and camaraderie, too.
* Face facts before you even leave the house. You will not get rich at a vendor table. You will rarely even break even. What you are doing is moving a few books BUT more importantly, you are introducing yourself to the community, and giving them a reason (and a bookmark with purchase info) to pop into Amazon and buy your books later on.
* Even so, every single sale is a huge validation and makes your insides go all glittery and free floating. Totally worth everything.