The Traveling Writer: Ten Things You Should Own for Promotional Events

The Traveling Writer: Ten Things You Should Own for Promotional Events

by Kristi Petersen Schoonover

I’ve been doing events for ages, and my first few weren’t easy. No one had a must-have list, and I had to learn by doing. Today I’m sparing you all of that. So, here are the ten things every writer should have in his “Traveling Promotional Toolkit” (other than, obviously, your books/product). If you’re with the NEHW, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about some things on this list, like the table and tablecloths. But you should own them anyway, because at some point, you will probably be going solo. Interestingly enough, these ten items won’t break your bank—in fact, if you buy everything at once, your investment is going to be well under $100 and most of that you’ll never have to replace—but they’re absolutely essential if you’re going to take your show on the road.

Table/Chair: Card tables aren’t that expensive. Pick one up and keep it in your basement. If you don’t use it for going on the road, believe me, you’ll find some other use for it the next time you throw a party. A decent card table can run you anywhere from $20 and up. Some come with four or five chairs and start at about $50—but as far as chairs go, anything from home will do. Even those fold-up lawn chairs are fine. But you should have one in case the venue doesn’t.

Tablecloth: You can bring a cloth one from home that you already own, but since I’m a horror writer I like to get funky and use something appropriate. Plastic tablecloths, which you can get at any party store and start at, like, a buck, are the best choice, because you can customize them to the event (you might not want to bring your blood-spatter design to a hospital benefit, for example), and you can toss them when they get worn out. I have a few different ones with different designs on hand especially during October when I’m doing four or five events in a row and want to change it up. I usually get several uses out of them before having to discard them. You’ll find you also won’t mind loaning out the plastic ones, either. These are the most frequent things you’ll replace other than your handouts (see below).

Plastic Tubs: A must. All your books and materials stay dry and in mint shape. The tubs are also easy to carry, and make for a great “table” to put your drinks and food so they don’t go on your signing table, putting your product at risk.

Photo by Jason Harris.

Book Stands: Sure, you can lay your books down on the table, but if they’re standing up, they’re easier to spot, plus they instantly look serious. You don’t have to spend a fortune to own an industrial book stand: these are the poor man’s POP (point-of-purchase) displays. All you have to do is visit Michael’s Crafts and head down the framing/photo aisles; they’re referred to as easels, they’re portable, and they’re cheap. The ones pictured above fold easily. At Michaels, they are about $3.99 each, and if you get the store’s coupons in the weekly paper, then they’re even less. If you wanna go nuts, they have some pretty cool wrought-iron ones. Those are on my Christmas list. Book stands are also available through Amazon.

Handouts/Flyers: The idea with a handout or flyer is to provide something of value: Content your readers will take home and possibly keep for awhile or use—this is the idea behind what today we refer to as “swag” (years ago when I worked for a firm we called them CM’s–“collateral materials”) such as magnets, bottle openers, and pens. The good news is, since you’re a writer, you don’t have to spend the bucks on promotional items if you can’t afford them. An easy, better, and less expensive way to market your work is to take a short story (preferably one that’s published) or a sample from one of your books and copy it. You can then staple your business card, postcard – or simply a flyer with your website and where people can purchase the book – to those copies and hand them out. You may not think it works, but it does result in at least a few residual sales (a residual sale is when a person purchases your work after the show is over).

Pens/Markers/Paper: Don’t laugh. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve been to book signings at big box retailers (Barnes & Noble, Costco, and the like) and the author didn’t have pens that worked. Invest in a box of Bics. And while you’re at it, pick up a few Sharpies, too. Also make sure you have a notepad or extra paper – it comes in handy if you need to make notes, keep sales records, or make a sign. Just keep them in your travel tub.

Sign Holders: These are those plastic one-offs that stand on their own into which you can insert your own flyer, sign, photo, or whatever and the beauty is you can prepare one and use it over and over; you can also change them out frequently but keep a file of different ones on hand and avoid having to print new sheets every time you need something different. They add to your professional appearance and come in a multitude of vertical and horizontal styles and sizes. The best place to get them is at Staples, and you can spend as little as $4.00 each.

Duct Tape: One word: MacGyver.

Plastic Shopping Bags: To offer to customers who purchase your product, and to use for just about anything else, including those empty Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups and Tab cans. One box of 100 costs about $13 at Staples or Office Max, and it’ll take you awhile to go through them.

Decorations/Candy: Something festive to dress up your table is always helpful because it broadcasts I have passion for what I do, and a bowl of individually-wrapped candies is always pretty, especially around Halloween, because it shows you have a sense of fun. And after all, who doesn’t want to Trick or Treat?

Panels and Authors at Rock and Shock (updated 10/11/11)

There will be something new at Rock and Shock this year. The convention has added discussion panels to the convention. There will be four panels including NEHW members during the weekend.

The first panel, “Small Press/ Magazines Workshop,” will be held Friday at 6 p.m. It will be moderated by Danny Evarts.

The second panel, “The Writer’s Studio,” will be held on Saturday at 12 p.m. It will be moderated by Geoffrey Goodwin.

The third panel, “Women in Horror,” will be held Saturday at 1 p.m. and will be moderated by Trisha Wooldridge.

The fourth and final panel, “NECON E-Books & E-Publishing,” will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. It will be moderated by Bob Booth.

Here is the line-up of the authors who will be at the convention throughout the weekend.

Friday

3pm – 10 p.m.

T.J. May
Bob Booth
NECON E-Books
Scott Goudsward
Stacey Longo
Geoffrey Goodwin
Danny Evarts
Trisha Wooldridge
Jack Haringa
Kristi Petersen Schoonover

Saturday

11:00 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Trisha Wooldridge
Jennifer Yarter
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Stacey Longo

12:00 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Trisha Wooldridge
Jennifer Yarter
Geoffrey Goodwin
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Stacey Longo

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

NECON E-Books
Geoffrey Goodwin
Nathan Wrann
John M. McIlveen

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

NECON E-Books
LL Soares
Peter Dudar
Rob Watts
Nathan Wrann
John M. McIlveen

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Stacey Longo
Jason Harris
LL Soares
Peter Dudar
Rob Watts
Anthony Laquerre
Kristi Petersen Schoonover

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

T.J. May
Scott Goudsward
Tracy Carbone
Stacey Longo
Jason Harris
Anthony Laquerre
Kristi Petersen Schoonover

5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

T.J. May
Scott Goudsward
Tracy Carbone

6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

T.J. May
Jason Harris
Stacy Longo
Kristi Petersen Schoonover

7 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Jason Harris
Stacy Longo
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Tracy Carbone

8 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Jason Harris
Stacy Longo
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Tracy Carbone

Sunday

11 a.m.to 12 p.m.

T.J. May
Trisha Wooldridge
Morven Westfield

12 p.m. to 1 p.m.

T.J. May
Trisha Wooldridge
Morven Westfield
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Stacey Longo
Jason Harris

1 p.m. to 2 p.m.

NECON E-Books
Larissa Glasser
Stacey Longo
Jason Harris

2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

NECON E-Books
Larissa Glasser
Ken Wood
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Geoffrey Goodwin

3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Ken Wood
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Geoffrey Goodwin
Stacey Longo
Jason Harris

4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Trisha Wooldridge
Stacey Longo
Jason Harris
T.J. May

This list is subject to change.

New story collection released/NEHW appearance

Today, there is some more publishing news and an upcoming appearance by a NEHW author.

On Friday, NEHW member Paul Tremblay has a new short story collection coming out called In the Mean Time. The collection is being published by Chizine Publications (http://chizine.com/chizinepub/books/in-the-mean-time.php).

For more information about Tremblay, check out his website, http://www.paulgtremblay.com.

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Tracy L. Carbone will be signing her middle grade paranormal story The Man of Mystery Hill at the Barnes and Noble in Manchester, New Hampshire on Thursday at 4 p.m.for Teacher Appreciation Week.

NEHW weekend appearances

Here is a reminder about the NEHW members’ appearances this weekend.

NEHW member Morven Westfield will be appearing at Albacon (http://www.albacon.org/) this weekend. The convention is being held at the Best Western Sovereign Hotel, which is located at 1228 Western Ave., New York.

She will be sitting on a number of panels throughout the convention. Here are the panels and times: Promotion on a Low Budget, Friday, October 8, 4 p.m.

Vampires: Sparkling or Bloody? Saturday, October 9, 12 p.m.

eBooks and eReaders, Saturday, October 9, 2 p.m.

She will also be reading on Saturday in the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading event at 1 p.m. and the Steamy Romance Reading event at 11 p.m.

NEHW member Tracy Carbone will be appearing from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. this Saturday (10/9) at America’s Stonehenge, located at 105 Haverhill Road in Salem, New Hampshire.

Everybody have a great weekend. Look for new entries next week.