Hand-Selling: How to Kill It at Book and Comic Conventions

Happy to welcome author Andy Peloquin back to the blog–he’s got some tips for in-person events where book selling comes with the territory, so read on!

Comic Conventions, Book Festivals, Book Signings, and other similar events are the best way to connect with readers in your city. Instead of appealing to the internet at large, you’re focused on a target demographic: people who like to read your genre of books in your area.

For many authors, public appearances are terrifying—but they don’t have to be! Angela’s post on Hand-Selling Your Book: How Savvy Are You? provides excellent insight into the basics of selling in person, but I’m going to share “sales secrets” that have enabled me to sell more books and engage with more people.

Stand Up – This is my #1 rule at conventions: never sit! Sitting is more comfortable, but  can make passersby feel like you’re “hiding” behind a wall of books. You’re also more likely to turn on your phone, read a book, or do something that draws your attention inward. When you stand up, you can’t relax, so you’re always looking around, talking to people, and focusing your attention outward–making you more approachable.

Get Them to Stop – Let’s say 5% of people will stop at your booth on the strength of your cover art and swag. But a solid 90% of people will respond to a question like “How are you enjoying the convention?” or “What brings you to the festival?” People LOVE to talk about the things that make them passionate.

Asking about their interests allows you to strike up a real conversation and possibly give you an opening to talk about your books. Remember to always be genuine; talk about their interests, passions, and hobbies. People respond positively to that.

Find Common Ground – Are they wearing a T-shirt you like? Does their costume belong to one of your favorite TV shows? Do they enjoy a certain book genre? Finding that common ground is the most important part of your conversation. If they see that you both like the same thing, they’re more likely to share YOUR interests—like your book!

Make ‘Em Laugh – Laughter can create a positive bond between people. If someone laughs at your joke, their brains are subconsciously telling them that you’re a good person. That positive association helps make them more receptive to you and your book.

Put it In Their Hands – A 2009 study from UCLA found that “merely touching an object results in an increase in perceived ownership”. Translated: if they touch the book, they’re more likely to buy it.

I learned this trick selling comic books. People love to flip through the pages and see the art and colors. It’s a bit different with novels—people will read the back cover material, study the cover, etc. This also goes hand in hand with the next tip.

Select an Engaging Passage – Choose a section of your book—500 to 1000 words, or one scene—that you think would appeal most to readers. If you’ve connected well with someone you can suggest, “Read a bit, if you like.” The book is in their hands, and you given them something engaging. SO effective for selling the story without saying a word (as long as you’ve taken care to not make them feel pressured).

Find a scene that gets them intrigued in the story/world and want to know more. Just like you use teasers for blog posts, this snippet of your book is meant to HOOK them.

Tell it Like a Story – Instead of saying, “My main character is this, who does this, and this happens,” tell it to them like a story. Give them a bit of information behind what prompted you to write the story, and how it relates to them.

Sharing it like a story—hand gestures, inflections, and excited tone of voice—makes it seem much more interesting to the person you’re talking to.

Be Passionate – A LOT of people have told me, “You sold me on the story,” rather than “The story appealed to me.” Of course the story is going to be good (you’ve labored hard to make it so), but when it comes to selling face-to-face, your passion is going to be the most appealing thing.

People love to see someone excited about something. If your tone of voice, facial expression, body language, gestures, and overall bearing show your enthusiasm and passion (by telling the story you love), people will identify with that and respond positively.

Be Fun – This is a bit too broad to be a specific tip (like the others above), but it’s one I find makes conventions so much more enjoyable for me. Personally I like to take goofy photos, do silly things, come up with crazy ideas to make me and the others around me laugh, and generally have a good time. Heck, I’ll even start dancing if someone next to me plays music. It puts a smile on the faces of those who see me (I am somewhat shameless at conventions), and it makes the time I spend on my feet more enjoyable.

Recommend Your Neighbors – This is a trick I use to both “put good karma into the world” and take advantage of the fact that I’m sitting next to people an entire weekend. If the authors around you write a genre you don’t, recommend the reader pop over to their table to check their books out.

This builds a relationship with the authors around you, and they’ll send people your way as well. Not only do you all end up selling more, it shows you’re a genuinely decent human being willing to help those around you. In the end, the good always comes back to you.

I use the tips above with every single person that passes my booth. I’ve found they help me get my books into the hands of readers a lot better than just sitting back and maintaining that “mysterious author” persona. Be fun, outgoing, and engaging…and you’ll sell MANY more books!


Andy is getting ready to celebrate a new release–how awesome is that?

The Last Bucelarii (Book 3): Gateway to the Past

A faceless, nameless assassin.

A forgotten past. 

The Hunter of Voramis–a killer devoid of morals, or something else altogether?

(The Last Bucelarii–dark fantasy with a look at the underside of human nature)

Enjoy dark fantasy? Find this book at Amazon, jump into the whole series, or add it to your Goodreads list if you like!

About Andy Peloquin

I am, first and foremost, a storyteller and an artist–words are my palette. Fantasy is my genre of choice, and I love to explore the darker side of human nature through the filter of fantasy heroes, villains, and everything in between. I’m also a freelance writer, a book lover, and a guy who just loves to meet new people and spend hours talking about my fascination for the worlds I encounter in the pages of fantasy novels.

Twitter  * FacebookWebsite

Have you sold books in person before? Do you have any tips or ideas to add? Let me know in the comments!










Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, an online library packed with powerful tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
This entry was posted in Buying Books, Guest Post, Marketing, Promotion, Uncategorized, Writer's Attitude. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Hand-Selling: How to Kill It at Book and Comic Conventions

  1. Pingback: Author Confessions: Making Conventions Easy and Awesome - OWS Ink, LLC

  2. Pingback: Writing Links 4/3/17 – Where Genres Collide

  3. Raven Oak says:

    Absolutely crucial tips! They work too. I sell more books at conventions and comicons than I do elsewhere. 🙂 These things work!

  4. Andy, these tips are great! My first release is Tuesday (YIKES), events are scheduled, and boxes of books are stacked in my hallway. This post is perfect timing for me. Thank YOU!

    • Andy Peloquin says:

      Good luck with it! Try to “fake it till you make it”, no matter how nervous you are. Engage with people, have fun, and don’t worry about selling. Just go out there and be genuine–people respond to passion and enthusiasm better than any sales patter. 😀

    • I am so excited for you, Karen! Enjoy every moment of your release party!

  5. If you are selling at a science fiction or any other genre specific convention, actually know something about the genre beyond a few movie or TV franchises. I’ve seen too many authors, who either write in a cross-genre or who self-pubbed in that genre but who have never read it, implode with fans who can spot a phony or a poser a mile away.

    • Andy Peloquin says:

      Ooh, good point! Don’t hesitate to say “I’m not familiar with that” if it’s a TV show or comic you don’t recognize.

  6. Sheri Levy says:

    Great information. I will remember these easy suggestions. Thank you.

  7. So many great tips here. The first one is so simple, yet can have a really big impact: standing instead of sitting. You can be much more enthusiastic and passionate when you have the ability to move around and engage physically. And putting the book in the person’s hand is really smart, too.

    Thanks for the advice, Andy 🙂

    • Andy Peloquin says:

      You are very welcome! I have so much fun at these events that I want other people to enjoy them as much as I. Will make them more fun for the readers/browsers as well. 😀

  8. Well, I’m an author as well and just READING about your passion has turned me on to you. You’ve sold me, brother of the ink. I’m going to go check out your books, forthwith. Good luck to you!! Danke and Namaste. ?

  9. I have so much fun at conventions–I figured I HAD to share the things that make engaging with people and talking about my books so enjoyable.

    • I find the more events you do, the easier and more comfortable it gets. It becomes so much less stressful too when you go into it looking to meet people and connect over books rather than focusing too much on selling. Book buyers are browsers, so it’s important to let them do their thing, but they also love talking about reading, and the TV show and movies within their favorite genres too. Often when you find a great fit with someone, the sale happens organically. 😉

      Thanks for sharing all this Andy!

      • Absolutely! And showing genuine interest in someone else always increases their interest in you. Pretty much every time someone has stopped to talk about THEIR passion, they’ve looked down at my books and asked, “So, are these yours?” It opens to a natural dialogue that makes for a much easier sale.

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