An Author's Guide to Author Conventions: Part 2

If you’re here, you likely want to know more about attending multi-author conventions, signings, or events. Make sure to go back and read part one of this series first! It covers all the basics, and then some.

Now that we’re all caught up, let’s dive in to today’s post where we’ll be covering more of what to expect at these events, including preorders, pricing, and more! And we’ll get some rapid fire tips from our faves on how to make your event time a success!

We’ve got a lot on the list, so let’s get into it!

WHAT TO Expect

The best way to do this without rambling is to make a list, so if you have questions or want me to expand on any of the below items in future posts, please drop a comment and let me know!

  • It’ll probably get hot once attendees enter the room. Prepare to sweat.
  • It’ll be loud, and you’ll probably lose your voice trying to talk to attendees over the noise. Bring cough drops or hard candy, and lots of water.
  • You will go through more pens/sharpies than you think you will. Bring extra.
  • The attendees are probably just as nervous as you.
  • You might have to talk first.Practice your pitch.
  • People come to these looking for new authors & books.
  • Build your arm strength. At tear down time, there will be not a cart or trolley in sight for you to use. (Adjacently, remember to lift with your legs, not your back)

I could probably go on all day with just this list, but I want to cover other stuff still, so we’ll stop here! Check the bottom of the post for more tips from some of my author community!

Pricing FOR THE Big DAY

For some reason, this is a controversial and divisive topic. So I’m going to tell you the universally agreed upon advice, and then we’ll get to the controversial bit and you can decide which route to take.

The non-controversial bit: Even, pretty numbers. Multiples of 5? Even better.

For the love of all bookish gods, do not price something at $17.99 for the event. $15 or $20 babe. Pick one. Especially if you’re planning to take cash as payments. Make it easy for everyone involved, please.

Now for the controversial part. Should you charge more or less than your retail price? Should you “charge” for your signature and time by up-charging, or should you discount it a little to entice new readers to buy at the event instead of waiting until they get home?

In the end, you should do what you prefer. Authors have been successful with both strategies, which is why it’s now such a divisive topic.

My approach was this: my books retail for $18.99, they’re also part of a completed duology. To maximize profit and entice readers to buy the SET of books, I priced individual books in the duology at $18, OR they could buy the set for $32. My brain wanted to do $35, but a $1 discount just isn’t enough for people. This did well, and I rarely sold only one book of the set. Do with that what you will.

Highly recommend bundling discounts. You don’t wanna lug all those books back home. Sell them! I’ve seen authors with lots of books out do tiered bundle discounts as well, to much success. So, you get $2 off if you buy 2 books, $5 off if you buy 3, etc., etc.

Play around with it, and you can always change it next time!

EVENT Preorders

One thing most convention attendees have come to expect is that authors will offer preorders. This is where they will buy the books ahead of time for pickup at the event. It ensures they get a copy before you sell out (hey, manifesting), and it helps you figure out how many books to bring.

If the convention runners have any experience whatsoever they will at least have a Facebook attendee group, and hopefully a website where they link to all the attending authors. This is your target audience for these preorders.

There’s some back and forth on this topic too, on whether newer-to-convention authors should offer preorders, and honestly, I don’t think there’s a downside to offering them.

You make a quick Google form (or you can be extra like me and do it through your shop instead), you post it in the attendee group & on your social media, you get preorders, you send a PayPal invoice, you get paid, you keep track of who ordered what.

If you get preorders, that’s guaranteed sales and a data point to help you calculate how many books (general rule of thumb is 3x preorder numbers). If you don’t get any, then no harm no foul, estimate your total number of books to bring on the attendee count instead (5-10% of attendee numbers).

EVENT Exclusives

If you do offer preorders, one way to boost them is to offer event exclusive editions or items. Special foil edition? Painted edges? Offer it for preorder for the event only. If you’re feeling really fancy (and brave), offer it only for preorder and don’t bring any extra to the event.

This strategy will boost preorders, but often makes attendees a little grumpy if they aren’t in the attendee group or don’t read things like they should.

In general, event exclusivity for books or even for swag items is only going to help you. It plays on people’s FOMO (fear of missing out) and yeah, maybe it’s a little psychological gamemanship, but hey, whatever works.

Exclusive editions don’t have to break the bank either. It can be a new cover, or a physical boxset of the series, or swag/merch that’s not offered anywhere else. Whether they’re worth it or not are up to you. If you’re not sure, I’d suggest starting small with merch, then moving up to one book, and judge from there.

In the end, there’s no wrong answers here, just learning experiences!


I actually am not experienced enough in this to talk about exclusive book editions. I’m doing my first ones for Apollycon 2024, so once I have personal experience, I’ll come back and update this.

I do know that you have several, SEVERAL, options. 

I still have some topics about conventions I’d like to cover, including table set ups, and talking about my own personal experiences (with math and spreadsheets and DATA), so keep an eye out for part 3!

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