Fairs and festivals can be a great way of gaining huge exposure for your book, and selling large numbers of books. Almost every community has some kind of fair or festival each season of the year, and these events draw hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Not everyone who attends may be interested in the genre of your book, but chances are you’ll still find your target audience amongst all those festival-goers. You’ll likely have to pay for a booth to display your book and do your signing, but the cost can be reasonable, depending upon the size of the festival. My rule of thumb is if you can break even on the event after 10 or 20 books, it may be well worth your time to register for the festival. As with book signing events, your goal for fairs and festivals is to draw a crowd to your booth, sell books and “create the demand” for the book.
1. Register for the event as early as possible
- Contact the event organizer
- Find out the cost of the booth or registration
- Register for the event and inform your marketing representative
2. Spread the word about your appearance at the event
- Church bulletin
- Online newspapers free event calendar listings
- Free online listing at Craig’s List
- E-mail invitations to your address book
- Your web site
- Share expenses
- Split the cost of the booth with another author, if festival organizers allow booth-sharing
- Decorate the booth with a banner and tabletop posters announcing that the author is available to sign copies of books. Make the booth as attractive as possible!
- Establish a family member or friend to help you during the event
- Items you will need for your booth:
- Books. You will need to determine how many books you will need to have available for the event. You can always keep extra copies in your car, if needed.
- Giveaways. Just like at trade shows, attendees are always looking for free items. Have a supply of bookmarks, business cards and push cards on hand to help promote your book if people don’t buy a copy on the spot.
- Décor. Most festivals will give you a table and a chair, and not much else. Find out if you’ll need table coverings, a tent or awning (if an outdoor event), or a power supply for any video or audio needs you may have. Also make sure you have pens and posters to advertise who you are and why you are there, preferably with a photo of your book cover on it. You may even want to have a banner made for your book that you can re-use at future events. You’re only limited by your imagination.
- Be prepared with conversation starters.
- “How did you hear about the event?”
- “Are you an avid reader?”
- “Do you live in the area?”\
- Have a one-minute pitch ready to go that tells people who you are and what your book is about. Practice it so that it seems natural and not forced.
- Have a guest-book on your table for people to sign their name and e-mail address. By doing this at every event, you can create a large mailing list for e-blasts or newsletters about your book.
- Practice good booth etiquette.
- If you are sharing a booth, be considerate and polite to your fellow authors.
- Don’t complain to your fellow authors if the event isn’t going well and you aren’t selling many books. Attitude is contagious!
- Work out ahead of time how you will approach customers at the booth so you aren’t overwhelming them and pressuring them to buy books.
- Be friendly and approachable.
- Don’t just sit at the booth and wait for people to come to you. Engage passersby in conversation and offer them any giveaways you may have. Use the opportunity to tell them about your book.
- Arrive early, allowing plenty of time to set up for the event.
- Have book ordering information available in case you run out of books. Business cards and push cards can be used for this purpose.
- Send a thank-you card to the organizer after the event. If the event was especially successful, send a letter of commendation to the event organizer. They may ask you to be a featured author next year.
- Book early for next year’s event.
These tips not only apply to your local community fairs and festivals, but any local book fairs you may have in your area, too. Of course, you may also want to look into attending the larger book fairs and festivals, but the cost of attending these venues can be high if you are not selected as a “feature” author, something that is usually reserved for well-known, celebrity, bestselling authors, or authors who have already developed a reputation for their writing and amongst other authors and writing groups. The benefit of attending events like this is that everyone attending is interested in books, whether they are the casual reader or the bookstore owner.
There are usually a number of local and regional book festivals. A good place to start is http://www.booktv.org/Book-Fairs.aspx. There are also a number of industry events targeted toward bookstores, publishers or both. Sometimes authors can participate in these events, either as a featured author or a guest speaker. Again, the industry opportunities are usually not for the beginning author, but those who have already made something of a name for themselves.
Whatever the fair or festival, start locally and build up from there. At the very least you’ll gain some good exposure for your book, and at best you’ll sell a lot of books AND gain great exposure for your book!
Coming up next: Day 16 - Selling Books in Bulk