Because I know you all are just dying to read another long blog post about this shit.

For an even more in-depth discussion of the shit-storm that happened and what the article was actually about …

Author Lila Vale

Oh boy… you can’t swing a dead cat in the indie community without coming across this one! Or maybe it is my proximity to those speaking out that has this dominating my newsfeed, I don’t know. Anyway, I have a lot to say in comments and messages so I figured, why not just throw it all out here.


Everybody else is doing it! How could this possibly go wrong?

Some of you may have missed it, though… so, to catch you all up in the quickest way possible: my co-author made a blog post about shady publicity tactics. Several authors made posts in support of this, as this particular thing has been the topic of discussion for a few of us since what is starting to feel like the beginning of time. There were some responses, rebuttal blog posts… some who disagreed, and many who agreed. Hey, we’re all different…

View original post 3,034 more words

When Did it Become Socially Acceptable to be a Dishonest Artist?

Recently, this article by an author caused a huge wave in the indie community. For the most part, this author pretty much spoke out against shit that has been happening for years around the indie community. There was a lot of support, but there has also been a lot of people, both authors and readers alike, who I personally feel totally missed the entire point of the article (and NO, it’s not about pen names, it is about people pretending to be something they are not in an effort to defraud readers into buying books based on false facts about the author and his/her life and/or events).

Let me start off by saying I did not wake up two years ago, three years ago, or even five years ago and decide I wanted to start writing. I’ve been doing this for DECADES, long before Amazon hopped on board the self-pubbing train. I started my journey into the trade publishing world at the tender age of fifteen. I am both trade and indie published, and those two worlds are as different as night and day. In all those years, I have sat back and watched the community turn itself inside out, I have seen it get a really bad rap from the actions of a few, and I have watched it slowly turning into a cesspool where a growing number of authors will do anything and everything they can all in the name of making a sale, all without any ethical qualms whatsoever.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but what that article pointed out absolutely happens every single day of the week. I have seen authors throw themselves pity parties, using everything from their own disabilities to those of their children all to garner some type of pity sale. I’ve seen authors try to guilt their readers into buying their unedited books because “this is how I make my money.” I’ve seen authors spill out story after story about their bad luck, their failing health, the death of a loved one, and so on, all in an effort to get someone to buy their books, regardless of whether or not what they are saying has actually happened or has any truth to it. I’ve seen women authors take on male personas and flirt outrageously with their female readers all in a bid to get them to buy a book. I’ve seen authors send their street teams after any author they deem a threat, I’ve seen them bully and harass other authors, I’ve seen them instruct their fans to leave 1 star reviews on any author’s book that they feel threatened by (something that got so bad that at one time, even Anne Rice took notice). I’ve seen men pose as single male model-turned-erotic-author and sweet talk their way into a legion of screaming women who all think this persona has some deeper feelings for them, all so they can sell a book. The list goes on, and on, and on.

Remember this? Yeah, it’s something like this, only it’s not a guy looking for a date, it’s someone trying to get your money.

It makes you wonder why anyone would be this gullible. The truth is, who the hell wants to own up to the fact they were played? I mean, seriously. It’s bad enough when you fall for such shit, but when it’s put right out there in front of you, and you can’t believe you were so naïve as to not see it for yourself because, after all, you are far from stupid, sometimes it’s easier to try to cover it all up, pretend it didn’t happen, or support the offender rather than own up to the fact that you were duped. It happens, but so long as you are continuing to support the bad behavior, they will continue to exhibit the bad behavior, they will continue to make money off of people who have no idea what this persona behind the computer is doing. You know the old saying: Don’t feed the trolls. Yeah, authors can be trolls, too.

I’ve seen it with my own eyes, over the past fifteen years, and it’s only getting worse. If anything, I think the author of this article down played exactly how bad the indie community has become. Now virtually every other author is a NYT Bestselling Author. I have seen authors who have created dozens upon dozens of sock accounts in an effort to make it look like they have a huge following on social media. Click farms and fake review sites are kept rolling in the dough by indie authors who continue to use every single underhanded gimmick the internet throws at them. It’s hurting the careers of those authors who have spent years, hell decades of their life working their asses off doing everything by the book, ethically, just trying to make a name for themselves. Everyone gets pissed when someone gets rich off the hard work of others, but yet it’s okay for authors to do this just so they can make money? It’s okay for them to defraud their readers in any shape, form, or fashion, and everyone looks the other way because it’s just a good marketing strategy?

Yes, we all understand publishers have engaged in some pretty questionable behavior, but there is a huge difference between an author who has no control over how their publisher markets their work and an author who chooses to behave or market in an unethical manner.

Back in the day when KU was first introduced, authors who sat down, did the math, and figured out they could make more money on a 10K short story through the program than they could a 100K novel were quickly called out as fraudsters, schemers, unethical for taking money away from hard-working authors who entered the program trying to get better exposure for their books. When everything changed and KU started paying out by the pages read instead of on the total number of borrows from the program, it didn’t take authors long to get their panties in a bunch when people looking to make a few quick bucks learned how to embed click through links in their 1 million page fake book, thus achieving them a huge payout through Amazon.

Both of these things were considered gaming the system, defrauding readers by making them think they were getting a full-blown novel when they were either getting a short story or a “book” filled with gibberish designed to do nothing but make its creator money, but how is it any different than an author who slaps NYT BESTSELLING AUTHOR on the cover of their book when they have not actually hit that list?* How is it any different than a woman sitting behind a computer pretending to be a man while flirting with their readers and convincing them to buy their books and pimp them out in countless groups? How is it any different than a married man pretending to be a single underwear model, a former Airforce pilot, or a Navy Seal all while flirting with their readers and convincing them it’s okay for them to leave bad reviews on other authors’ work, or creating dozens of fake profiles on FB to leave messages and comments and likes and shares from their main page all in an effort to sell more books and make it look like they are more popular than they actually are? It’s fraud, a wrongful deception intended to result in financial or personal gain, and yet as authors so many of us are turning a blind eye to it, trying to make it seem like those who are blowing the whistle are bullying others simply because we are sick of losing money to people who spend all their time lying and coming up with ways to defraud their readers. If someone sold you a car based on lies and the car’s engine blew up the day after you bought it, you’d be pissed, right? So why is it okay for an author to sit behind their computer and convince people they are dying of cancer, their child is disabled, their husband just left them, their dog ran away, or they want to carry on some fake committed relationship with you via FB Messenger all for the sake of selling a few more books?

When did it become socially acceptable to be a dishonest artist?

This article just points out what a lot of us have already witnessed over the years. For those who did not agree with the original article by Kyle? The article states it is because those who have protested were probably the ones who engage in this type of behavior. I’ll go two further. Most indie authors are new to the community and honestly just haven’t been around long enough to see all the shit that goes on behind the scenes. Give them a few years, and if they stick around, they’ll start to take notice and realize the author of this article isn’t as full of shit as they originally thought. And second, for the readers who have fallen for this, they don’t want to admit it. They don’t want to admit they were played, they were used by some rando group of middle-aged men and women sitting behind their computer taking advantage of the lonely men and women out there who would do virtually anything just to have someone be kind to them. And to me, that is even more disturbing than anything this article pointed out.

Press Release: Southern Fantasy Author Event

The first annual Southern Fantasy Author Event is being held Saturday, August 13, 2016 at the Laurel-Jones County Library in historical downtown Laurel, MS from 9:30 am to 2pm. Come join fourteen fantasy authors from across the south for a day filled with fun, prizes, and down home charm. You won’t want to miss your chance to hang with some of the south’s best fantasy authors and get to know the writers behind the pen. There will be a raffle with all proceeds benefiting the Laurel-Jones County Library. Prizes include autographed paperbacks, candles from the Shining Sol Candle Company, and a 7″ Amazon Kindle Fire tablet and cover. Come join as we celebrate southern hospitality and authors who make fantasy into a reality.

Autumn fantasy girl, fairy in blowing chiffon dress

Why I Simplified My Business Plan & Started Saying “NO” to Free


We all love free stuff, but it seems in the publishing world that “free” has become a problem. Writers have all grown so desperate to be read at any cost that they are tossing out their books for free to anyone and everyone who will take them. They rotate out their entire catalog with free days on Amazon, they offer up free books in exchange for a review, they are trying to get people to sign up for their newsletters by offering even more free books. It has created a reader base that has grown so used to everything being ‘free’, books no longer hold any value to them. They expect all their books to be free or super-cheap (as in $0.99 cents for that 80K word novel that took you a whole year to write and edit).

This epidemic of “I want free and/or cheap books” is a monster of our own making, and it’s not just readers who are demanding freebies. We took the well-meaning advice of the professionals and perverted it, giving books away to anyone who was willing to take them. Now we have people attending release parties strictly for the books being given away, blaming authors and organizers when they don’t win or have any problems getting their prize. We have big and small bloggers who think they are somehow entitled to free books simply because they are a blogger, taking on more ARCs than they could possibly read in a lifetime. We have basement-built PR companies springing up all over, people calling themselves “personal assistants” all in a bid to get their hands on books or to exploit authors who are desperate to get their books out into the world, making huge promises with little to no return. At some point, authors have to take a stand for all the thousands of hours of time, labor, blood, sweat, tears, and money invested into creating our books.

Enough is enough already. I finally stopped saying “no” to free, and here’s what it took to get me to put my foot down.

In November 2014 the highly anticipated second book in the Before the Sun Rises series was finally released, three and a half years after the release of the first book. In celebration, I decided to do a quick 24 hour free day on Amazon on New Year’s Eve. For 24 hours, the first book in that series was free.

I didn’t do any paid advertising. I posted about the event in a total of 12 different FB groups. Because I worked at my regular job that day, I posted to 6 of the groups that morning before I left for work and another 6 when I got home that night. Within that 24 hours, I had successfully given away over 1K copies without doing anything but posting about it in 12 different FB groups. The book quickly climbed to #5 and #6 in paranormal action/adventure and paranormal romance, respectively. It ended up breaking the top 1K overall free ranking while the promo was going on.

At the time, I was happy. I thought for sure with that many people grabbing up my book I would see a few sales trickle in for my other books. Unfortunately, what I received in the wake of this promo was not sales, but an eye-opening reality.

1K+ copies given away told me that people wanted to read the book, but why weren’t they buying my other books? Over the next few months, I had dozens of emails and messages come through of people wanting to know when my other books were going to be put on promotion for free.

Yes, people wanted to read my work, but they expected me to GIVE it to them for free. A few months after this I saw an author bragging about how she had successfully given away over 35K copies of her latest book in a week and she was happy because if just one person read it and liked it, she was fine with that. All I could think was, did you sit down and do the math and realize how much of a pay-day you just screwed yourself out of? Because I did. At the time of my promo free day, that particular book was selling for $3.99. At just 1K copies given away, I managed to screw myself out of a nearly $3K payday. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I really, really could have used that money to offset some of the expenses that are associated with publishing a book.

It is for this very reason I stopped giving my work away. I no longer do blog tours. I’ve written numerous articles on why they do not work, with the most notable reasons being 1. the small bloggers who may have the time aren’t attracting enough traffic to their site to give you much of a return on your investment 2. the larger blogs who are bringing in the traffic have either gotten so picky about what they will accept that they will not even acknowledge the smaller indie authors or they have taken on so many books it could take them months to get to yours making them virtually useless when it comes to your book’s release day or 3. they fail to review the book at all.

In essence, I have stopped doing any type of free giveaways at all. I no longer do any free days through Amazon (thousands of books given away without a single review in return), I no longer do open calls for ARCs (hundreds of copies given out with only a 1% return rate on reviews left), I stopped donating books to release parties or cover reveals. I have even stopped doing any type of giveaways or contests through my own website and author page. In fact, the only time I do any type of giveaway is when I do the rare book release party or through my Nikki’s Book Divas FB group.  If anyone is looking for contests or autographed books of mine, my group is where they will be. The only way to get hold of an ARC is to join my beta team. And the only way to get hold of a free book from me without entering a contest is to join my review team.

I am also to the point where I am about to stop offering autographed paperbacks through my website, making them even more difficult to come by. By the end of the year, I have it worked out so the only way to get any type of autographed swag or books from me at all will be to either attend one of the 2 author events I attend each year, or by entering one of the giveaways that are now done strictly through my FB Divas group.

Some authors might think this is extreme. It is, and that’s the whole point. When your items are easy to get hold of, when you are constantly giving away free books on Amazon, giving out ARCs to anyone who asks, are always doing giveaways, you are inadvertently driving down the value of your product. Think about it. People want diamonds because they are rare and are hard to come by, thus making them extremely valuable. When an author’s work and their autograph become something that is so common people can’t even get rid of it on Ebay, it shows just how flooded the market has become with something no one equates any type of value to.  Ask yourself, when was the last time you saw any of the great writers of this generation hopping through hundreds of FB groups trying to give away swag packs and autographed books? When was the last time you saw them begging people for reviews or doing contests every few days? If you want to be appreciated like the big name authors of this day, then you need to start acting like them.

It took us years to get into the situation where everyone wants all of our hard work for free, and it will take us years to fix the situation. I do not quite understand why people who would not go to a regular job and work for 40+hours/week for free expect authors to spend hundreds of hours without a paycheck. I don’t work for free, and for those who think giving books away is the only way to entice readers, I’ll tell you the same thing the trade published authors tell indies – go get yourself a WattPad account and stop clogging up the slush piles for those of us who want to actually make a living at this.

On Editing … Lessons & Thoughts

One of the biggest pet peeves for both readers and writers are books which have not been properly edited. Even writers who never hire editors are quick to judge and leave associated reviews of books which have not undergone proper editing. It begs the question of exactly why some writers are so steadfast in their belief that they somehow fall outside the zone of needing an editor. NO ONE is that good of a writer. If you want to know what all really great writers have in common, it boils down to one thing – a really great editor. Not even the world-renowned wordsmith queen herself Anne Rice can get away without having a proper editor.

The reasons behind writers not wanting editors are many, but it mostly breaks down to one thing – fear. They fear being told their work is not good, they fear having their words rearranged, they fear having their writer’s voice stripped away from their manuscripts. What writers seem to fail to grasp is a good editor is not going to do any of these things. An editor’s job is not to keep your exact string of words intact. Their job involves one simple thing – take a writer’s “vision” of what is happening in a story line and make it as engaging as it can be for a reader. In other words, they take that rough bird house you just created and sand it down smooth and paint it to make it pretty. It’s still a bird house, but it looks so much better once they get through with it. An editor does the same thing. They take your vision, help with syntax, help bring your vision of what is happening to life, help round out characters and make the action pop for readers. In my opinion, someone who understands and accepts what an editor is meant to do is what separates an amateur writer from a professional author.

To really drive this point home, I feel that showing is better than just telling, not only in your manuscript but in this instance as well.

Below is a sample of piece of writing from Hayden H. Hayden is twelve, he suffers from dyslexia, so it is already unimaginably difficult for him to articulate what is going on inside his head into a coherent story line with proper grammar. This not only gives you a peek into what it is like for someone with dyslexia, but is also a very good example of how some writers jot down first drafts and thoughts before fleshing out their ideas.


…”So first let’s start with the people in my story so my best friends are Ethan and Zoyee. Ethan who probably has the most useful magic has corrupted fire; it is warm bright, and green. Zoyee who might have the coolest magic she is manipulator she can change anything into what she wants (don’t make her mad if you might not walk for a while). So now for me… Hayden but you already knew that… didn’t you. Ok my magic is shadow, time and light (I might be the most powerful). So we begin outside of my office (I have a repair shop but I just put it back time before it was broken) I just opened the door. It was in the middle of the room and it was outraged it was strong and fast AND ETHAN HAD MADE A JOKE HE SAID THAT “I’m sorry but you’re Demoted” I punched him square in jaw we started to fight zoyee slapped us both we said “why did you do that” she said “IF YOU TWO FORGOT there is a demon in there” “oh yay” I said “ON NOT AGAIN NOT AFTER LAST TIME this is going to be hard to explain to the landlord” I barged in and say to the demon hi… I was punched out of the office hay that hurt a little. I knew that was going to be a good fight (I like to fight ok Iove to fight, lot) I also noticed that punch stung acid I thought zoyee had healed the punch all ready I walk bake in I said “that…was not nice”…” (© copyright Hayden Holloway 2016)


It only took reading the first paragraph for me to realize this child has great potential as a story-teller. Yes, this a total bowl of alphabet soup grammatically speaking, but the action behind what Hayden has imagined is spectacular. I knew Hayden had struggled to get just four pages down, some five hundred or so words. I wanted him to see what his vision would look like fleshed out, what his work could become in the hands of a decent editor. This is what I sent back to him:


…”Let’s start with the people in my story. So, my best friends are Ethan and Zoyee.  Ethan probably has the most useful magic, corrupted fire. It is warm, bright, and green.  Zoyee, who might have the coolest magic of all, is a manipulator. She can change any substance into whatever she wants. I suggest not making her mad ‘cause you may not walk for a while.

So now for me, my name is Hayden, but you already knew that, didn’t you? My magic is shadow, time, and light. I may be the most powerful of all of us.

This story begins outside of my office. I have a repair shop, and I had just opened the door, the door I had replaced a while back after the last time it was broken.  It was standing in the middle of the room, outraged, strong, and fast.

 “I’m sorry, you’re demoted,” Ethan said as a sort of lame joke as we walked into my office.

I punched him square in his jaw and we started to fight, forgetting about what was inside the office for a moment. Zoyee stepped in, slapping us both.

“Why did you do that?” we asked at the same time.

“Did you two forget there is a demon in there?” she asked, jerking her thumb toward the demon still standing in the middle of my office, watching us all with his unblinking black eyes.

“Oh, yeah,” I said, sighing. “After what happened last time, this is going to be hard to explain to the landlord.”

I barged into my office, saying, “Hi,” to the demon as I walked into the room.

I was immediately punched in the face, my body flying out the door. Hey, that hurt a little, I thought as I landed with a loud crash. I knew this was going to be a good fight. I like to fight. Ok, I actually love to fight.

I noticed the punch stung, a lot. Acid.

Zoyee put her hand over the lump in my jaw, the small fracture and burning skin healing up quickly. I nodded to her as a way of saying thanks and walked back in, ready to do battle.

“That – was not nice,” I said…”


This is just a small sample, a rough draft of what could have been. Had I been editing this as a paid editor, there would have been many conversations and emails regarding what Hayden saw happening inside his head. For a children’s book, the lack of description is fine, but if Hayden were an older client writing for adults, I would have helped him flesh out the scenes much more, find out what the demon looks like, describe the action better. At any rate, you get the idea. I took what Hayden had written and gave it depth, fleshed it out just a bit, helped round out the characters and their personalities. This is what an editor does.

Now here is the best part of being an editor. Hayden, at only twelve years of age, was absolutely ecstatic to receive these edits, to have someone take what was floating around inside his head and make it coherent to the point where others could not only read it, but would actually enjoy reading it. Yes, his words were changed up a lot, and I added a lot, but again, keeping a writer’s exact string of words together is NOT an editor’s job. I took Hayden’s vision of what he imagined was happening in this scene and gave it depth, fleshed it out, made it sparkle. I took something that was not coherent or well written and turned it into something that was engaging to the reader. This is what a good editor can do for you.

And here is the reason why I do not edit very often any more for others. It’s because even though Hayden grasps this concept at only twelve years old, I have seen writers with decades of experience who have yet to realize what the goal of an editor actually is. I’ve come across so many writers who get positively irate because an editor changed their words and sentences. That is what an editor does, it is what you are hiring them for, not to keep your sentences in tact but to keep your vision intact and make it into the best story it can possibly be, to take something which is rough around the edges and make it as enjoyable of a read for your audience as possible.

If you want your work to sparkle, for your story line to pop, for your characters to feel real to the reader and for your grammar to be as flawless as possible, please enlist the help of an editor. If I can take alphabet soup and drag the story out of it, imagine what a top-notch editor can do for your manuscript.

It’s time to stop being afraid and send your manuscript to the next level. It’s time to stop being known for being a good writer, and start being known as a fantastic story-teller. Hire an editor, and stop looking back. Smooth those rough edges, paint the bird house, and display it with pride knowing you went the extra mile not only for your readers, but for your beloved book baby as well. After all, not only does your book baby deserve the best, but so do you.

Author Events – Lessons Learned as a Signing Author

This year is the first year I have been able to attend any author events. To date I have attended both large and small events, and will be hosting one in my home town in less than 6 weeks. For my first event, I count myself lucky because it was a very large event. The final ticket count to the public, prior to the event, was over 300 tickets sold, and that’s not counting the ones who strayed in because they were already at the venue and saw the signs. One of the smaller events I attended only had around 100 tickets to be sold. All in all, it’s been quite the learning experience.

Before I get into the meat of this post, I want to set some realistic expectations. If you think author events are all about selling books, I hate to disappoint you. It’s not about selling books, it’s about exposure. It’s about meeting readers, engaging with them, and hoping to connect with new fans. Most readers who attend these events aren’t looking to purchase books; they are looking for new authors and reading material for their kindles. They generally grab swag off your table and will look you up weeks or even months later to see what you are all about.

Most authors only sell two to four books at an event, I somehow managed to sell 8 at my first event (over 300 tickets sold) and 6 at the smallest event (only about 100 tickets sold). The girl whose table I was sharing at the largest event sold something like 28 books. That is not the norm. I repeat, selling that many books at an event is not the norm. And when taking into consideration I spent approximately $800 to make $16 in profit, selling those 8 books doesn’t look quite so impressive. Let me repeat that, I spent over $800 in books, swag, hotel rooms, food, and gas on just one event to make a measly $16 in profit. And I count that as doing extremely well for one of these events. Thankfully I had enough swag left over to carry me over for two more events, but that is still a lot of money to spend on handful of events every year. In total, I have spent over $1k between books, swag, hand-made swag, hotel rooms, food, and gas to attend just 3 events. So if you are going into these events thinking you are going to make a lot of money, sell a lot of books, or even break even, you are going to be very disappointed. I will say that I met a LOT of really great people, I made a lot of connections, I gave away a lot of swag, and I had a lot of fun with my fellow authors and readers. Hopefully in the coming months, all those people who took pens, bookmarks, and rack cards from my table will eventually look me up on Amazon and buy a book.

So if you are not scared off by now and still want to do this thing, let’s get started on what all I learned from the events I have attended so far this year.


  1. Be Prepared Part 1 – Table Presentation Makes the Difference

Upon setting foot inside my first event for setup, I quickly realized I had not prepared nearly enough. Even though I had spent months crunching numbers, deciding on what swag to purchase, and buying it a few pieces at a time, I still was not prepared.

When I went into this, I had only ever seen a few pictures on other authors’ Facebook pages in regards to what their tables looked like. Most of them just had their items spread out on it, and so I assumed that’s how all of the events looked. Man, was I ever wrong.

Nearly every table at this event was seriously decked out, like the authors had hired a professional party planner or table decorator to do their spread. I cannot possibly stress how important it is for your table to stand out in these events.

I suggest doing a dry run prior to going. Practice setting up your table, arranging your books and decorations so your table looks eye-catching. And don’t just depend on the event to supply a nice table-cloth. I suggest bringing another one as well. I didn’t make the same mistake twice. The next events I attended I asked the coordinators how large the tables were and measured that space out on my dining room table. I did a dry run with my table, and it paid off. I also brought a maroon table-cloth with me and used it, making my table at one of the events the only one with a table-cloth which was some color other than white. I’m glad I did this as at one particular event I was stuck in the very corner where no one could see my sign. I think the bright color drew people in.

Remember you are trying to pull in new readers and the best way to do this is for your table to be eye-catching and inviting. Think of a theme that surrounds your books and get to decorating! This is why I chose a maroon table-cloth, to go with the vampire and paranormal theme running through my books, and it also matched the color scheme of most of my books. Trust me, waiting until you get to the event to decide on table layout and theme is not the answer. I wanted to cry when I got to my first event and realized I had not really planned out my table appropriately. Thankfully I had so many things on my table I still drew people in at that first event, but you definitely want to have a theme and a plan for your table layout prior to the event.

Also, be sure to bring something you can prop up your books on, like a mini-easel or one of those little things you use to display decorative plates. If you have a lot of books, investing in a small, table-top book display is a very good idea. I didn’t have any of these things at my first event and so people couldn’t see my books unless they walked up to my table. I lost potential buyers and readers because of this. For my next events, I had a table top collapsible book shelf which people seemed to like. They didn’t have to worry about knocking over the books on display. I had a lot of people picking them up and actually looking at them and reading the blurb. At my first event, people acted like they were scared to touch the display.



  1. Be Prepared Part 2 – Book Sales

Thankfully I had the good sense to take my Square card reader and to get my account set up prior to the event. If you don’t have a Square account, you really need to get one, or some other type of POS service. There are no monthly fees for using Square and they charge just 2.75% of the sales to swipe the card. It is automatically deposited into your bank account each night.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough sense to think about all the people who would be paying with cash and would need change at my first event. Thankfully I only had to make change a few times, but coming prepared never hurt anyone. The author sitting at the table next to me came equipped with a locking money-box. Smart man. But if you can’t go all out on locking cash drawers, I do recommend you bring change for $100 to include ones, fives, and tens. For my next events, I invested in a small locking cash drawer ($16 at Wal-Mart) and brought change. I was glad I did. It made it a lot easier than digging through my wallet under the table.


  1. Be Prepared Part 3 – Information on Swag

Swag has to pack a big punch in a small size, so think long and hard about what you want to include. The most popular swag at my table was my business cards, my rack cards, and my bookmarks at my first event. I had postcards too, but people did not seem as interested in those. So when preparing your printed swag, keep in mind you want to make it super easy for potential readers to find and connect with you.

For my second event, people were more interested in the hand-made magnets and my bookmarks. I had business cards, business card magnets, and two sets of post cards as well as rack cards at my table, but the only thing anyone took were the hand-made magnets and bookmarks. You never really know what will be a hit at each event, so I suggest buying small numbers of various items, just make sure it includes some way for customers to find you. The hand-made magnets I had were just a tiny bit larger than a quarter and was one of my logos which had my website address on it.

For my rack cards, I included a list of all my book titles, all my social media links, and my website address. Unfortunately I didn’t have sense enough to put my Amazon author page link on it, but with my book titles and my name, I at least made it easy for them to look me up at

For business cards, you have to include even less information, so besides your name and your tag line or “brand” (for instance, all mine have ‘paranormal fantasy author’ on them), I included my website address. It’s the one place where all my stuff links together – social media, my blog, my amazon author page, etc.

For bookmarks, I suggest creating a brand logo, like the one displayed at the top of this site. People really like the logo and it is why they kept picking up the bookmarks at all the events I have attended so far. I had several people tell me they loved the eyes and asked if they could take extras for friends or giveaways for their blog. Bonus!

As with your table, you want your swag to be eye-catchy and to stand out. Bright colors, unique logo, and an awesome brand or tag-line is a must. It takes some doing, and I’ve wasted quite a bit of money on items that I ultimately didn’t use because I came up with something better. I often use the pre-made designs at Vista Print and add my own little flair such as my tag-line or a small logo. Just don’t give up and if all else fails, remember to keep it simple. So long as the swag stands out on your table, you’re good to go.

I would like to add that proofreading the information on your swag is even more important than making it catchy. I had a typo on the back of my rack cards that I didn’t even notice until weeks later – after I had already given out several hundred of them at two different events. There’s nothing more sobering than having to trash a few hundred pieces of swag all because I didn’t take two minutes to double-check the sentence I typed. Yes, it matters, and if you are one of those who thinks something like that doesn’t matter, you have no business being an author. Sorry, but it’s the truth. Your swag is an extension of yourself as an author, just like your books. It all has to be perfect, even though perfection isn’t achievable. Double standard, and indies are held to an even higher standard than trade authors.


  1. Be Prepared Part 4 – Bring Your Wheels!

I thought about this the week of my first event, and by that time it was too late to really do anything about it. So my husband and I ended up making two trips to my car carrying very heavy boxes a half-mile and up two sets of elevators to the event room. Needless to say, after doing that for both the setup and the break down, my shoulders and back were killing me. So be sure to take something with wheels that is large enough to hold everything for the event so you are not making multiple trips. I saw authors with everything from large wheeled suitcases to large wheeled Rubbermaid containers. If you have tons of boxes, I strongly recommend a collapsible dolly as well. Whatever you choose, your back will ultimately thank you.

On that note, be sure to find out if the room where the event is being held is on the ground floor, and if not, if the place has an elevator. After my first event I invested in a wheeled repurposed tool box which I absolutely LOVE. It holds all my books and swag, leaving me to carry just my banner and stand, my new collapsible book shelf, and one more small container with my purchase bags and table decorations. Unfortunately, one of my events was on a second floor of a place which did not have an elevator. Getting my wheeled box up the steps was quite the challenge. It had to be carried down the steps once everything was over, and I wasn’t physically able to do it, which meant one of my fellow female authors carried it for me. Yes, I was embarrassed and forever grateful.


  1. Location, Location, Location – and yes, be prepared to feel like you are back in high school.

Understand your table location at the event is going to be mostly out of your control. Let’s face it, someone has to have the shitty spot no one wants, so if you are just starting out and are not a “big name” in the indie world, don’t be surprised if you find yourself in the back of the room or shoved off into the corner somewhere. Like I said, someone has to end up there. If it’s not you, it will be someone else. It’s just the way things are.

The room I was in for my first event was oddly shaped and my table was almost in the corner. Thankfully the author whose table I was sharing was attracting a lot of readers, as was the table next to me, so I got lucky and got run-off traffic. Despite this, because of where we were located, I did notice a LOT of the attendees did not come down far enough to get to our table, resulting in possibly missed sales and people who did not pick up any swag to remember me by. I really believe the really bad table placement combined with me not being very well-known in the area attributed to the dismal number of book sales, especially considering I sold just 2 fewer books at an event with 1/3 of the ticket sales.

At another event, I was shoved off into a corner by the door. No one could see my banner, and the only thing I had going for me was the author whose table I was sharing seemed pretty popular and the fact I was sitting beside the door so those who came in that door stopped at my table first. With that in mind, this is why having a very eye-catchy table is a must. If you are unlucky enough to be seated where the foot traffic is not going to come by you by default, then you definitely want to give them a reason to be drawn to your table. For the event where I was shoved off into the corner, I was the only one with brightly colored table-cloth. I believe it caught a lot of people’s attention and set me apart from the rest.


  1. Smile – No One Wants to Meet a Grouch

I’ve never smiled so much in my life as I do at these events. Yes, I know by our very nature writers tend to be introverts, but at these events, those who are not friendly and outgoing will lose potential readers. At my first event, my table mate and I went so far as to wave people over to our table and ask them to come chat with us. If you see someone standing close by eyeballing your table like they are debating on whether or not to visit your table, give them a big smile, wave at them, and ask them to come chat with you. Seriously. Just smiling at them is not enough, but when you are chatting them up about their favorite authors and genres, then it puts them at ease and more willing to look at your titles. If nothing else, invite them to take swag from your table and remind them all your items are on Kindle/Nook/iTunes etc. Even if they don’t buy a book that day, hopefully they’ll go check you out at a later date.

On that note, I’d like to discuss a big key difference between large events and small events. For my first event, there were over 300 tickets sold. For the first two hours it was like Grand Central Station. People were zooming by my table so fast I barely had time to speak to them. I noticed some people bypassed my table completely because there were already people at it. And because there were so many people, everyone was lined up waiting to get to all the tables, so my time to chat with each person was severely limited. I got the feeling a lot of people may have felt rushed because of others waiting in line, which meant my time spent engaging and interacting with potential readers was greatly compromised. At that first event, I only sold 8 books, and I believe that low number was the result of many factors, not only due to the high amount of traffic, but also my table spread and location.

At one of the last events I attended, there were just a handful of authors and less than 100 readers who attended. It was very relaxed and I was able to chat with a lot of readers and pitch my books to them. In other words, there was a lot of author-reader interaction. I sold 6 books which was phenomenal considering the low number of attendees when compared to the number of books I sold at my first event and the number of readers who attended. People did not take as much swag from my table at the smaller event, or at least it didn’t feel like it.


  1. Sometimes Less is More

I will say that I went overboard with my swag at my first event. I ended up with pens, rack cards, two different types of business cards, bookmarks, and postcards. For my next events, I added in another set of business card magnets, hand-made magnets, and another set of postcards for my new release. Everyone was really happy to take them off my hands, but to be honest, it really wasn’t needed.

Case in point, my table mate at my first event was only giving out small bookmarks and a piece of hand-made buyer swag for anyone who purchased a book. Despite this, she nearly sold out of the 30 books she brought with her PLUS she gave away all the bookmarks she had. If it’s on your table, they WILL take it, but it’s a lot of money to waste on something that they may or may not keep up with. As someone who has walked around at these events, when faced with tons of swag choices, I feel really bad about taking one of each. I know that is what it is there for, but there is something about authors sitting behind those tables eyeballing you that is just unnerving. It’s why I try to talk to people and invite them to take things off my table. I want them to take it, it’s why I bought it, but I don’t want them to feel guilty about it.

My suggestion is to keep things simple. I like pens because it’s something the readers will actually use. And if they use it around others, even better. However, most people are really particular about their pens, so the cheap ones generally get tossed out pretty quickly. Unless you are splurging on really expensive, gel pens, skip them. Bookmarks, however, seems to be something people love picking up, but then again, why wouldn’t they? They need them for the books they are buying, they like using them, they like sharing them, so bookmarks are a staple product to have at your table. My next favorite thing is rack cards. You can pack a LOT of information into a rack card, and they double as bookmarks as well. Business cards are handy and they are fairly cheap, so I would definitely keep those around.

Postcards, in my opinion, were a waste of money for me. Sure, I like them, and they can be used as a bookmark or even mailed. But let’s face it. Readers who go to these events collect these items, which means it goes into a scrap-book or a bag or a drawer and they never look at it again. Bookmarks and rack cards, however, tend to get used. Despite this, I still have a weakness for them, and tend to purchase them when I can get them cheap.

In all honesty, I spent way too much on swag for all of my events. The only good thing is I won’t have to buy more swag for the other events I’m doing later in the year. I had enough of it left over I was able to donate some to my co-author for her event, and may even have some left over to donate to a few other event VIP bags. But if you are starting off, I suggest finding out how many tickets have been sold to the event previously and use those numbers as a basis for how much swag to order. One or two pieces of swag, along with a special “buyer” swag for buyers is really all you need.


  1. Pricing is A Factor

The first event I attended had a FB group just for the attending authors. Someone had asked how much everyone was charging for their books. It’s a great idea to get a feel for this and if it is possible, ask the other authors who are going how much they are charging. You do NOT want to over-charge or under-charge when it comes to your books. However, selling them at a loss may not be an option either.

I’ll be honest. My books were priced where I lost money on the one through my publisher because it costs me so much to order them. The rest I had priced at the same price as they were on Amazon. Despite this, my table mate at my first event was offering huge discounts when buying both of her books together, and these weren’t small novellas either. To be honest, there is no way I could have sold my books for the same price, not without taking a hit on them. I feel it put me at a disadvantage as those who visited my table thought I was over-priced. Despite this, I feel my books were reasonably priced for their size and the lack of sales could have been from a variety of different reasons. However, I do strongly recommend anyone attending the events to ask what others are charging and plan accordingly. Even if you have to sell them for what you have in them, it’s better than having to drag all those books back home and missing out on a potential reader leaving with one of your books in their hands.

At my other events, I knocked the price way down. Books I had been selling for $10 were knocked down to $8 and those which had been $12 were knocked down to $10 and when buying them together I offered large discounts. I had went through and changed a lot of the covers, so I wanted to get rid of them. Pricing may have been a huge factor on why people were buying more at this event.

With that in mind, I strongly recommend having your book prices in plain sight. It took me two events before I realized I should have had the price on them. Most people ask, but there were some who may have not purchased simply because the price wasn’t posted anywhere and they didn’t want to ask. And if you are selling other items such as mugs and tshirts, always have the prices of those items clearly marked.


  1. Take Photos

Seriously, take photos of not only your own table, but the tables of authors who have a really catchy table spread.  Learn from your peers, and take photos so you’ll have something to look back on later to improve your own design layout.


All in all, being prepared is the number one thing. You have to think about the event from start to finish, what all is happening, and what items you will need. Learn from others, ask questions, don’t be afraid to fail, and most importantly, have fun! You can’t expect readers to come to you if you don’t look like you are having an absolute blast.