Author VS Vendor: Becoming an Indiepreneure.

I was lucky enough to hang out at The Novel Experience Event in Atlanta this month and I want to take a few minutes to discuss something I noticed there: the growing trend of authors as vendors.

Here’s what I mean.

When I do a book signing, or really any event where I will have a table or booth, I take books to sell and SWAG to hand out. (check out my post about author swag here). But lately, I’m seeing more and more authors selling not just books, but a variety of other things at their tables during these book events. Again, these are book events and signings, not simply vendor fares. Here are a few examples from my most recent event:

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Now, let me be clear, I’m absolutely not hating on this practice or these people in any way. Actually, I think it makes really good business sense. And these ladies aren’t just extremely talented authors, they are Indiepreneurs.

Let’s look at the items they are selling. Besides books, they are also selling branded jewelry, mugs, shirts, bags, ribbon & bangle bookmarks, and all kinds of things. Those sort of items are extremely expensive to produce, so I totally get wanting to make some cash back on that investment. Now they all have free swag items as well, paper items (bookmarks, postcards, etc), pens, stickers, and a variety of less expensive items to simply give away. I only point this out because people ARE buying those bigger, pricier to produce items. My dear friend Julie (who writes Dragon Shifter novels in addition to other things) makes and sells crochet stuffed dragons, and often makes as much or more from those than she does from simply selling her books.

So, what I see is that at many of these author type events (and you can see the different types of events/conventions available for authors here), it seems to be paying off to sell branded items–not simply books.

It’s a step I’ve never taken. I always have whatever bonus items I produce as free swag at my signings. Probably because, for many years, that was what was expected. I have, for budgetary reasons, shied away from even creating the bigger ticket items, because I know that giving those away hurts my investment-to-return ratio and dilutes my budget for other things. I had, for some strange reason, never even considered that I might sell them. But I often do events like ComicCon or even reader events like UtopYA and TNEE. I think it might actually HELP to have other branded items to vend at those types of events. Again, I’ve never done it myself, and as usual, I am learning all sorts of new things from the indie author community that I really think I’d like to adopt, this being one.

But I’m curious what you think, readers and authors alike. What do you expect to see at an author’s table? What would you like to see? Would paid brand items interest you? Let me know in the comments below!


Author VS Vendor: Becoming an Indiepreneure. — 1 Comment

  1. My only concern is when there is so much “other” product that the table turns into one of those tent stores that pop up in empty parking lots. You want your table to be inviting to readers so you can engage with them. I think that’s harder to do if they see your table as a marketplace.

    I think this would work best with a few unique items, like Julie’s dragons. A reader doesn’t even need to be familiar with her work to want one of those and the extra product can actually pull people in and give her a way to open the conversation about her books. But you’ll need a mega fan to buy a coffee mug with your cover on it.

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