BY MANDY EVE-BARNETT
With the promise of in-person events, we are all excited about hosting our author tables. We will receive our allocated table size and, in many cases, a room plan showing where we will be situated at each event. Depending on this location and the through traffic, we should think about pre-planning how our table display will be organized. We want to stand out among the other exhibitors, as well as entice visitors.
If the event has a central theme, we can utilize this to our advantage by using the theme as our starting point in how our display will look. Options include:
- Seasonal – such as Christmas
- Genre specific
- Cultural event
- Publishers showcase
- Local library book fair
To enhance our table display, we must decide on a colour scheme that will be attractive, but not detract too much from the book covers. Many organized events will specific a tablecloth colour for draping purposes. This can then be personalized with our own colour choice(s).
Your table display should reflect how many books you have and, if they are one genre specific or several.
You may decide to limit which books you display, if it is a genre focused event. You can always stack your other books to one side along with your business cards. An author banner is also a great way to stand out, there is no mistaking who you are then!
If you are launching a new book, this should be a focal point of the display. I have used a gift basket for each new book, so anyone purchasing any of my books is entered for the prize. I theme the basket contents to reflect the genre and storyline of the novel. For example, my reincarnation romance, The Twesome Loop, has an Italian villa venue. So that was the main design for the basket contents.
With nine published books in multiple genres, I usually need two tables. To delineate the children’s and YA books from the adult books, I use different coloured tablecloths. This makes for an easy ‘split’ in my visitors’ eyes. With each new book, I have created, or collected objects, to highlight the book’s story. My first children’s picture book, Rumble’s First Scare was a lot of fun and I learnt from that experience. I made the plush toy of the main character, and badges too with colour coordinating candy. And also cut out and stuck the dark green globs onto the light green tablecloth.
As you will see from the top image my tables now have fewer objects to minimise clutter. One thing I have found most helpful is having a short summary of the story with several reviews printed and mounted on a colour coordinated card to the book cover colour. This means if I am busy with one reader, others can read through what the books are about.
Another helpful tool is to invest in clear holders, so your books are not all flat on the table. This gives your table height and another dimension. It is also a handy way to hold more books.
You may not want to go to this much trouble, but a little thought and pre-planning in how your table looks, can help quicken your set up time. I practice at home and then take a photo of the final display, so I have a reference.
Apart from my books, I also have merchandise, such as hats and T-shirts, related to a couple of the children’s books, which are always a fun way to attract visitors. Whatever you can do to individualize your table from those around you will make your table a success. After all the more visitors we attract the more books we sell.
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