Talking Vendor Shows with Sherricka Carpenter Stanley
She's here! She's there! She's everywhere! Sherricka Carpenter Stanley, author of I Fit IN Just Right children's book and coloring-activity book and upcoming release Through Our Eyes. Sherricka shared with me the scoop on vendor shows. I have not done a vendor show just yet, so I turned to an experienced author-vendor to find out how to find a vendor show, how to work a vendor show and everything in between. Keep reading to "learn yourself something." 😄
Sherricka, please introduce yourself to us and tell us where we can buy your books!
I am Sherricka Carpenter Stanley. I am a mother, wife and author. I am a former educator of 20 plus years of students in both middle and high school. I am a lover of a rainy day, football, flannel pajamas and a good book. I am passionate about the things and people that I love. That's me in a nutshell.
You may purchase my books on my website: www.sherrickacarpenterstanley.com, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Walmart, Target, Books-A-Million and several independent bookstores. "Through Our Eyes" is available for pre-order on my website.
Now, that we know a little more about you and your books, let's get into the hot topic: vendor events! So, in my past life when I was attempting to sell a different product, I searched for vendor shows on Eventbrite and FaceBook. Tell us, how do you find vendor events to sell your book and merchandise?
Honestly, I find vending opportunities in several ways. I have found them from some of my Facebook author groups. I have found them by going down Instagram "rabbit holes." Those are my faves! But, I think I just have my eye open for opportunities to vend and try to jump at any opportunity to gain exposure. Plus, with quarantining for a year, it feels good to be back out around people.
Yes, quarantine was no joke and lasted way longer than expected. Now that outside is "back open," what kinds of vendor events do you look for? Like, what are some things authors should consider when determining whether a vendor event is a fit for them?
The typically seek vending opportunities with other creatives and other Black owned businesses. The opportunity to help another small business is one I will hop on at every turn! And if the small business is Black owned or woman owned, I am definitely signing up.
When considering if an event is for you, budget and availability are always first. Then, location of the event as far as travel. For me, I have gone as far as South Carolina to vend. Ask questions upfront to see how many people will be at the event. Fees are a factor for me as well. And IF you can, research the event to see what turn out was in the previous years. Also, see how the host will advertise (radio, social media, television, etc.). That is important because it will show you the efforts of the host and increase the likelihood of a great turnout.
This is some good stuff! So, consider your budget, your availability, how far you are willing to travel, and any event fees. Also, research the event and consider the host's efforts on advertising the event.
Here is an important question(s) related to fees and budget: What are the costs for vendor events? When do you pay more or less for a vendor event? And what are some things authors should look out for when it comes to vendor costs?
On average, I have spent anywhere from $50-$100 for vending events. Nothing over that amount so far. The ones I have participated in all required payment BEFORE the event. Some even offered payment plans. When looking at vending costs, again, ask the questions upfront of the expectation of turnout, how are they advertising, how far in advance the event is planned; all of these things help you to know what to SOMEWHAT expect. I have found that the ones that did all of the above, the turnout was great!
Wow, you dropped some knowledge! So, there are payment plan options for some events?! That is good to know. And it seems event costs may be relational to the hosts' efforts. I like that! Let's get to some fun stuff: Tell us about your booth setup. What are some must have items?
My booth setup consists of a six-foot table and a four-foot table. I ordered a Small Business Bundle from a small business on Instagram that included a retractable banner, a table runner, t-shirts, stickers, business cards, 4x6 cards, tabletop retractable banner and...I think that's it!
I would say must-haves are definitely some type of banner, information to give to customers (e.g. business cards or info cards) because everyone will not buy right then. I have a hand truck that makes it easier to transport everything. I purchased tables because not every vendor will provide one or at least not provide one for free. I have several crates, book stands, and I just added mannequins to my set up. I suggest Google "booth set ups" or look for booth set up examples on social media through hashtag searches. My setup is a combination of some of my own ideas and some from other authors.
Whew, chile, that booth setup is amazing! I love the idea of using hashtag searches for booth ideas! Okay, so let's say, it is the day of the event. Any tips on how to work your booth and attract customers?
I love speaking to people as they walk by. You will be surprised how far a smile and a simple "hello" goes when dealing with people! I have had people stop at my booth just because I spoke. My retractable banner works every time, too! Because people love knowing that that is YOU! I had a couple actually point and say that! Or when they begin to ask and I say I'm the author, the response is ALWAYS positive whether they buy or not! Being friendly and engaging is extremely important! I also try to definitely speak to my target audience: new parents, expecting parents, and parents with children in my age range 0-8 years old!
Oh, and definitely take pictures with your customers! They love that! As well as, offer signed copies!!! Oh, a price list and ways to pay sign are great, too!!
Wow, this has been very fun and insightful. I hope readers have learned as much as I have. So, before we close, I must ask: Do you have any other advice for an author attending or wanting to attend an author event?
Do it! You will not regret it! Especially if you find the right event for your book(s). Exposure is everything! And you will gain customers and followers of you and your brand. The people want and need your book! They are excited to see diversity in books. Many of your parents did not grow up with such a diverse selection in characters or topics, so they are desiring our product! So, please, try it!
You can follow Sherricka Carpenter Stanley on Instagram @Sherricka_author. Remember, her website is www.SherrickaCarpenterStanley.com. Her publishing company is Wabash to Worthing Publishing LLC. And her books are I Fit IN Just Right and upcoming, Through Our Eyes. Check her out and ALL of her merchandise!
And, if you want even more information about vendor shows, check out author of the Sophie Washington series, Tonya Duncan Ellis' blog post, How to Sell Boatloads of Books at In-Person Events here. She also includes a podcast interview she did on this topic as well!