Every author faces this question at one event or another. Maybe there is no one at the event or the people at the event aren’t coming near the author tables. How long do you stick it out?
It depends. If you’re paid to be there, obviously you stay the entire time no matter what. If you are there on your own time and sales aren’t happening, you have to weigh it carefully.
If people are approaching your table and taking bookmarks, you’ve got visibility in your favor. And you might make a few online sales later on. I can rationalize staying as long as I’m talking about the book and handing out bookmarks. Even if the sales aren’t happening, they could lead to sales.
However, I’ve been at author fairs where the only people who approached my author table were other authors and the event organizers. No one’s fault, but this wasn’t going to be a profitable event for me. It wasn’t even going to help with visibility.
Authors can’t be buying from each other every time they are vendors at events. We can’t afford it. And there’s no point in pitching to an author at the table beside you because they are there for the same reason as you–to sell books.
For the first half hour, I stood at attention at my table, waiting for a reader to come by, any reader. They didn’t. The next hour, I ended up sitting quietly and rereading my book. Because there was no one to talk with about my book, which was the reason I was there.
At one point a couple authors were talking amongst themselves and they were shushed because there was also a concurrent author talk happening.
That was when I decided to leave. If I’m not allowed to talk, there’s no point in me being at an author fair. If speakers are going to go on for the entirety of the time I’m supposed to be selling and no one is actually going to leave the speakers to check out the author fair, there’s no point in me being here.
And I’ve got revisions waiting at home. I’ve got a book launch with a million to do items waiting at home. And I took off two hours from work to be at this event and missed out on pay I need. And if I stayed, I’d miss out on the opportunity to get more work done tonight.
So I packed up early and left. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. I usually stick it out at every event. But the factors conspired to make it clear this wasn’t going to be a night where I made a sale or had any visibility. It was a night that needed to be salvaged.
What would you have done? What would make you leave an event early?
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