I've been volunteering to help my local chapter of the Mystery Writers of America with Sleuthfest, the mystery writers' conference we put on every March. This year's runs from March 2-5, and one of the features is a raffle for items donated by authors.
During the conference, you buy raffle tickets from one of the volunteers (usually women wearing pink boas) and then deposit your tickets in front of the items you want. The more you want something, the more tickets you drop in.
At the cocktail party on Saturday night, someone draws the winners for each prize. We've had some great ones-- trips and dinners as well as autographed books. MWA members were asked to donate, so I came up with the idea of a Hawaii-themed basket of goodies.
I had fun shopping for the stuff-- a platter, glasses and mugs; a bag of Kona coffee and one of chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, as well as assorted leis and a ball cap patterned with blue hibiscus flowers. I threw in one of my Mahu post-it note pads as well as, of course, an autographed copy of Mahu.
This is just another promotional expense, as well as a charitable donation. Everybody who walks by the raffle items will see my name and my book's name. This is why I volunteered, too; to get my name out there.
Everyone who registers for Sleuthfest is eligible for a ten-minute pitch session with one of the agents or editors who are attending the conference, and I'm coordinating the scheduling of these appointments. A couple hundred people have been getting emails from me, and will meet me in person when they show up for their appointments.
I know from my own experience that I've bought books by authors I've met at conferences, especially people who've been nice to me. So I'm doing my best to be nice to everyone-- including putting together a fun basket of Hawaiian stuff for the raffle.