Product Decisions – First Time RootsTech Vendor Perspective (Part 3)

With a booth selected, foot traffic generation plans in place, and the decision to take the young fanatic made, Andy and I needed to focus on make decisions about the books we planned to sell.

The Decision to Write Books

After attending regional conferences, workshops, and genealogy societies, Andy and I learned that our books sell better when they directly aligned with the classes we teach. At RootsTech 2018, two classes we would teach:

Downsizing Speakers
Genealogy Technology Speaker

(Downsizing With Family History in Mind and Animating Your Ancestor’s Journey With Animaps), did not support any of the six books we sell.

Beginning Genealogy Speaker

For my beginner track workshop, it’s solidly supported by the book Reimagine Family History:

Order from

I had taught the downsizing class as a workshop at a local library. I had the script and the slides from that class, so writing a book to support this RootsTech class should be easy. It wasn’t. The presentation format did not lend itself to a well-planned book. The manuscript soon became disorganized and I pulled my hair out in frustration.

Andy usually takes my first drafts and rearranges the content of my second draft. He inserts questions to help me clarify the principles, and even ghost writes many passages. But Andy was beyond frustrated with my first draft. He bluntly stated that several chapters were trash (actually, he used a worse word).

By December, the book was still in the first draft with no hope of progress. Conventional writing wisdom that you should write a how-to book until you have taught it several times. Andy and I decided to focus on the RootsTech workshop for downsizing and would return to the book post-conference if the class was a success. (Andy didn’t think the turn out would be very high. He would be so very wrong.)

Without the Downsizing With Family History in Mind books, would we sell enough books with the six we had? In the middle of the night, I had an idea that wouldn’t go away.

A DNA Idea

DNA is very popular at genealogy conferences and online webinars and local societies and more. Everybody wants to understand more about DNA.  On our YouTube channel, the most popular videos without exception are DNA Videos. From the conferences we attend, and those we lead, the books and webinars on the market leave attendees with have more questions than answers.

Far too often, inquiring minds, are more muddled than clear after spending time with such classes and books. On Family History Fanatics, a viewer nicknamed Andy as the Gordon Ramsey of genealogy, meaning simplifies the questions people have, but without the swearing.

Andy also stated one day after responding to comments on the YouTube videos that many questions are repetitive. It’s not a disparaging statement, just one that triggered my idea. Why not create a Q&A book about genealogy?

DNA Q&A would curate the questions from Andy’s DNA: After the Test 6-hour webinar, from the YouTube Channel and our Facebook page. Since Andy has spent so much time answering the questions, I would also include his answers and a few counter questions or responses from the community.

In short order, we soon had a 100-page book of real questions from real people about genetic genealogy. Those new to DNA results and genetic genealogy could find their questions, and some they never thought of, in one book and the answers to said queries. These questions should clarify the issues or trigger followup concerns we will be happy to respond to via email (which is in the book) or through future videos.

Your genetic genealogy questions answered
Order your copy of this book through Amazon.

Those who teach in the genetic genealogy space would benefit from this book by knowing what questions stump their audience again and again.

Andy and I were energized when crafting this book. It’s an original idea and might be grounds for future seminars at genealogy conferences. But the only question we had to resolve was how many books should we order?

It’s a book that can sell itself but we weren’t teaching about it on the RootsTech schedule. Would we have authority with the Expo Hall traffic that was unfamiliar with Andy, his videos, and his webinars?

How Many Books Should We Order

The most difficult question for a first time vendor is, “How much stock should we take?”

Trade show wisdom says about 5% of all the attendees are your power buyers. Using that statistic,  750-1,000 people could be in our power buyer pool.  Since we’re first-time vendors at RootsTech, we thought we’d be pleased to have 150 – 200 persons buy books (which is 1% of Expo Hall traffic). Since our average sale at BYU and other regional events is three books, we set our expectations (450 – 600 books). As such, we bought a little extra stock to ensure we didn’t sell out. We also needed product for an all-day workshop in Arkansas the following week that was a perfect link between our classes and our books.

Shipping product to a convention site is challenging. The print-on-demand site we use often say delivery take two weeks. However, my friend Melissa’s home became the site for our shipments that arrived five days after placing our order.  In fact, the books came before we received the email that said the books were shipped!

We ordered a lot of stock!

As such, planning to ship to a hotel or convention site is challenging, especially since storing product carries a hefty fee or a narrow window when they’ll accept packages. So, thankfully my genealogy network came to my rescue and Melissa not only received my packages but drove them to the convention center. She’s the best!!!

Sidenote: Another genealogy influencer lives close to the Salt Palace and is happy to have people ship product to her home.

She happily opens up her garage so people can avoid the high costs of hotel or convention center storage. If you ever need that in the future, send me a message using the contact form, Facebook or Twitter.

With the product for the show decided, we began to focus on our classes we would teach and pack for the trip.

Stay tuned for Part 4

How much merch to take to RootsTech?
The hardest decisions exhibitors make.
Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee

Devon Noel Lee is passionate about capturing and preserving family stories so no one alive today has to be researched, or forgotten, tomorrow. She has authored 6 how-to books, a memoir, two published family history biographies, and over 60 family scrapbooks. She's an enthusiastic speaker who energizes, encourages, and educates at the same time.

5 thoughts on “Product Decisions – First Time RootsTech Vendor Perspective (Part 3)

  1. I loved your posts too. I'm a retired consumer but I love knowing how businesses run. I made it to Randy's meet and greet but seemed to have too many conflicts to get to more. Judith from Ferndale, WA

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