by Kathleen Shields
As a fellow author, I know the challenges of paying for a tradeshow, driving to said tradeshow, staying overnight at a hotel, setting up, and spending my entire Saturday hoping to sell books. You are eager to recoup your expenses, looking forward to those sales and when a show is slow (or in some cases – flops) it is an utter disappointment. Heck, I’ve even been to shows that have plenty of attendees, but none of them stopped by my booth or talked to me and you start feeling that lonely depression that only an author can feel. I get it.
But as an author who has attended hundreds of tradeshows over the course of many years, I can also tell you that almost ALL of those shows have rules about leaving early. Most of them will tell you that it is strictly prohibited. They usually add in their clause, that if you DO leave early your name will be crossed off the list to ever be allowed back at that show again.
Of course, you may be thinking; “Who cares? I have no intention of going back” which is your prerogative and right. But before you decide that leaving a couple hours early isn’t a big deal, please take into account what you are doing to those who choose to stay.
When a potential customer walks into a room to see half the tables empty, or half a dozen authors packing up to leave, it tells the customer three things:
- You don’t care to talk to them.
- Your time is more important than theirs.
- There is nothing in this room worth coming in for.
How do you think it makes the other authors feel? Their potential customers are immediately feeling unwanted. Those customers are strongly considering turning around and leaving before they’ve given anyone a chance. And if they DO stay, they feel they need to rush because the show must be closing.
Your fellow authors who have worked hard, spent the same money, traveled just as far (or farther) and struggled just as much if not more so. They are being gypped of their success because YOU decided to storm off early.
While Alan may not impose that rule – that you won’t be allowed to attend future book events if you leave early – we authors are taking note. You think we’re going to be happy to see you next time? You think we’re going to buy your book or help you out, or share some of our valuable insight with you?
Instead of sitting in your chair with a frown on your face next time and then packing up early – why don’t you try taking this opportunity and doing something good with it? How often are you in a room with this many authors? Some have been in this industry for years. They know things YOU don’t know. They can offer marketing suggestions. They can give you a list of additional bookstores and tradeshows you haven’t heard of. They can point you in directions that you haven’t considered and they can help you succeed in your dreams! Have you ever thought of that?
Instead of leaving early and driving home angry, stay those last couple of hours and make a new friend or contact. Make the most of your time. You’re already here – you have the opportunity to learn, to expand your reach – to even sell a book to a fellow author – I’m pretty sure we ALL read!
Alan is working hard to develop these festivals for us, he isn’t the kind of person to block your chances at success – he wants to see all of us succeed because our successes are his. But it is not his job alone. It is each one of our jobs to help him promote these events, stay the entire time, and make the best of it. He doesn’t deserve our disgruntled attitude, unkind words and our disappointments. Who else in this world is working as hard as him to create future opportunities for us? Barnes & Noble? I think not!