I’ve had tables at four events in three months trying to promote and sell my book and here are a few things I’ve learned:
- Before you sign up for an event, check out the event’s promotion. If the event isn’t being promoted well, foot traffic will be light, and your sales will suffer. A well promoted event becomes a well attended event.
- Keep your expectations in check. That may sound pessimistic, but if you expect to sell 100 books an hour, you will be sorely disappointed. Focus on getting the word out: hand out business cards or bookmarks that promote your book and get people to sign up for your newsletter. Selling the book right on the spot is a bonus.
- Be bold! You can draw people to your table with nice displays and bowls of candy, but at some point you have to open your mouth, hold out a card or a bookmark and say “Hi, check out my blog/book. It’s funny/witty/useful/a great story/can change your life.” Be ready with your tagline, that one sentence catchy answer to “What’s your book about?”
- Do the math. How many books do you need to sell to make that table fee worth it? Line up as many free or cheap tables at events as you can.
What have been your experiences with selling books at events and fairs? Has it gone well? Have you sworn never to rent a table again? Any tips to add? I’m still learning!
This weekend I will be participating in my first book fair, the Hockessin Art and Book Fair. I’ve been collecting tips from friends, blogs, and YouTube, and here are my favorites:
- Do a practice run. Set up your table at home and take a picture of the finished product. You do your fiddling, forgetting, and fretting at home at your leisure, and on the day of the fair, you simply look at your photo and recreate it. Saves time on the day of and helps ensure a nice looking table.
- Use props and vary their elevation. Flat paper and flat books do not a thrilling visual make. Props related to your book help draw attention to your table and stacking or propping items and books at different levels helps keep your table looking interesting.
- Come prepared to be paid. Test your credit card app to make sure it works, bring small bills to make change, and make yourself a small sign saying what forms of payment you accept. Have prices listed clearly and consider offering a deal or two.
- Take pictures of your table and yourself at the fair to use later in blog posts, newsletters, or book promotions.
- Have something people can take with them to remind them of you such as a business card, bookmark, etc. They might not buy your book today, but if they have something to remember you by, they just might purchase later.
If you have any tips to add, please do so in the comments!
Thank you for some great tips:
Carli Milacci http://www.lensoflight.com/ Lens of Light Photography
Stefanie Newell https://www.youtube.com/user/thelifeofawriter Author and Consultant
In all the excitement over my own book coming out this summer, I never mentioned another exciting publication that also came out this summer: Realmscapes: A Science Fiction and Fantasy Anthology. Brimstone Fiction ran a contest for short stories last year and the finalists’ entries were compiled into this gem of a book. (My short story Bipedal Idiots is part of it, so I’m a little biased.)
I’ve always fancied novels, but last year I picked up 101 Science Fiction Stories (Avenel Books, 1987) and it filled a need I hadn’t realized I had. Sometimes I look at a thick ol’ novel and think “Not today, I don’t have the time and attention span to invest in another world right now”. Enter short story anthologies! They give you a hit of your favorite genre but if you can’t remember what you read a week ago when you last picked it up, that’s okay. A fresh story awaits you.
If you haven’t read a short story since high school English class, give it a try. Short can be fabulous.
I had the privilege of guest posting on Anne Garboczi Evans’ blog as part of her How to Become a Successful Writer Series. You can check it out here: Anne Garboczi Evans. I’m part 4 (my favorite number). I look forward to reading what the other guests had to say.
August 9th. That’s the official release date for my first book: Sex, Soup, and Two Fisted Eating: Hilarious Weight Loss for Wives. After months of preparing and waiting, I can mark a date on the calendar.
I’m excited: I want to giggle and shout and throw promotional bookmarks from the rooftops!
I’m also nervous: I’m not sure how an author can screw up once the book is in print, but I worry that I might find a way.
All of those great ideas for promoting my book that I came up with for the proposal? It’s time to implement them. My daydreams have become reality and it’s time to ACT. Create author pages, set up signings, contact libraries and radio stations, and so forth. Who me? Really?
It’s a little like how I felt on my first day teaching high school students. With nervous excitement, you prepare, you fret, you dream, and when those students stroll in you set aside all joy, fear, and butterflies and take action, accomplishing what needs to be done.
One week to go! Bring on the action.
If you want me to abandon your book mid-read, please have nothing happen.
Have you ever read a novel that would have made a good short story or novella, but instead was fluffed out to make it “book length”? I have. (Of course I have – I’m the one ranting about it.) It was a sweet 50 page love story that had been stretched to 150 pages. The author only gave us two or three conversations between the main characters, but she told us what they ate for EVERY meal. It was like a chocolate bar with twenty extra wrappers. The nugget of chocolate was good, but by the time you got to it, you didn’t care anymore.
Romance novels need just as much plot as other novels. They need to do more than like each other, do nothing, and end up together at the end. If you’re on page 100 of a 200 page novel, and there’s no reason for your couple not to be together, either add 100 more pages worth of plot to keep them apart (for real reasons, please, not dumb ones) or end it and make it a novella. If you must tell me about their food, include a recipe and a scratch and sniff sticker.
Images courtesy of: www.crestedbuttelodging.com (bored couple), silverliningsfilmjournal.com (excited writer)
Pray over your writing
There is an extra blessing that comes from being a Christian author working with a Christian publishing house: praying together over your book. The first time my editor called me, I was tongue tied, trying to do an over the phone version of nodding and smiling because I still couldn’t get over the fact that we were talking about MY book being in print. I think it came out as “Duh…uh huh, uh huh”.
Over the phone my editor prayed for wisdom for all involved in the publishing process and that God would use the book to change people’s lives. Now, I believe that God is powerful and that He uses normal people to accomplish great things, but I hadn’t ever applied that to myself or my work. (One fourth of the book is cartoons, for crying out loud! I tend not to wax spiritual about it.)
It’s humbling but thrilling to think that God could use something I wrote to change another person’s life. I get so mired down in the details and deadlines that sometimes I forget to lift my head and see the big picture – can’t see the page for the letters, so to speak. I believe my overwhelmed but excited response to the prayer was “Duh…uh huh, amen.”
No matter who you’re working with or what stage of the game you’re in, I encourage you to pray over your work. Pray as you brainstorm. Pray before you write. Pray before you edit. Pray before you submit. Pray for your editor. Pray with your editor. Put it all in God’s capable hands. Then join me in this daily prayer: “I trust you to guide me, Lord. Help me not to screw this up. Thank you that you, the bestseller of all time, is in this with me. Duh…amen.”
Images courtesy of: www.timothybrownjr.com (hands praying), http://www.pinterest.com (C.S. Lewis quote