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Merchandising Your Books at Events for Bigger Profits

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Hosting events, autograph parties, and mini-seminars can be a very exciting and profitable way to sell your books, products, and services. But the key to maximizing your profits is to merchandise yourself and your books using the most effective approach so your audience becomes convinced they must buy your books.Follow these six steps to improve your results.

  • Carefully select your events and their location and timing.
      The most important merchandising strategy is to select the right events (events where you will succeed). In my early days as a speaker, I held events anywhere that I could speak. This included libraries, civic clubs, and bookstores. Nearly half these events were poorly attended or the audience was only mildly interested in my topic. Before you agree to host an event, conduct market research to determine the size of the audience, their interest in your topic, and the likelihood that you’ll sell books (track record of other speakers on your topic).
  • Design your event and presentation to sell your books.
      Conduct market research to discover your audience’s goals, objectives, and interests. Then select the most appropriate products and services to sell (in effect, the ones that most interest your audience). Next, design your presentation to emphasize the features and benefits that your product(s) offer. For example, suppose you wrote a book on budgeting and your audience was a group of real estate agents. This audience would be interested in earning more commissions from selling houses. You might demonstrate how the agents could help their customers manage their finances to buy a home. Weave this theme into your presentation and demonstrate how your audience can use the techniques in your book to sell more homes.
  • Sell your books as part of your lecture fee.
    For example, you can increase your lecture fee and give a copy of your book, audiotape, etc., to each member of the audience. This increases your profits and takes some of the pressure off selling product at the back of the room. You can use your lecture to establish a stronger rapport with your audience, concentrating on selling your other books, products, and services. Also, sell copies of your books to the company library and through the company store and catalog. When your event and books help the organization’s members or company’s employees perform better or increase their efficiency, the event planners will probably want to make your book available to everyone. Better yet, they may want to purchase a copy for everyone. Ask for the sale.

  • Request that your books and products be included in all special displays at the site, during the 30 days that precede your event. Ask the Events Coordinator to place your books on the “Local Author Table,” on the “Upcoming Events Table,” at the cash register, on the “Staff’s Picks” shelf, and in the front window. One bookstore displayed my books in the front window of the store. This boosted sales significantly. Make every effort to call attention to your books and make your work stand out from the competition.
  • Position yourself and your books in the main traffic flow.
  • This may be at the front of the store or near the cashiers. The more people who pass by your table, booth, or presentation, the more potential customers you can meet. Talk with everyone you can and call attention to your offering. Introduce yourself as an author and invite them to your event. Ask them if they want to purchase an autographed copy of your book. Some sites hold events in a special room or section of the building. If this spot is out of the way, make sure the Events Coordinator makes frequent announcements over the P.A. system (you should do this anyway, even if you are well placed at the site). Consider starting your event a few minutes after the scheduled time. Spend the extra time chatting with your audience and standing in the flow of traffic inviting people to your event. Draw as many people as possible to your presentation.
  • During your event, feature your books (right in the audience’s faces and minds).
  • Create as many opportunities as you can for your audience to see your offerings. This is called repetition, and it increases awareness and recognition. Set up a table behind you where you can display your books and products. Place your books face out on the table so the audience can view the book covers and form a mental image of the cover design. But focus on promoting only one or two products at a time; the more complicated the offering, the more you’ll want to focus on only one item. During your presentation, refer to pages in your featured book. Read a few key passages word-for-word, cite an important statistic, or reference a table or chart. When your audience is relatively small, consider handing out a copy of your book to each person. This should help them get acquainted with your book and realize its value and why they should make a purchase. You may want to remind them that the book is not part of the lecture fee and is for sale during the autograph session after your lecture. You may want to distribute a one-page handout that features an excerpt from your book, or a section (i.e. a list or sidebar) that is valuable to your audience; be sure to provide the title of your book and how to order it.


When you follow these steps, you’ll hold more effective and more profitable events. Take the time to research your audience and how to pitch your product offering. Then design your presentation to meet your audience’s goals and objectives while emphasizing the benefits your book has to offer. Then your back-of-the-room sales will soar.

Eric Gelb’s new book is “Book Promotion Made Easy: Event Planning, Presentation Skills & Product Marketing.” This book will help you design more profitable events and increase your back-of-the-room sales. To order, call 800/295-1325.

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