Sell Your Books at Book Festivals and Craft Fairs

by | May 10, 2017

By Judith Briles

Yep, it’ still COLD out there in some parts of the country … but book marketing for late spring and the summer should be starting NOW … Gulp … OK … what’s an author to do if there is a book festival or craft fair circuit in the midst?

Most likely, lots … start with where some might be (don’t forget to Google your own state in a search): https://www.everfest.com/book-festivals

Now, start noodling … what will make your table, your set-up shine and most important, be comfortable for you? Some are just a day—others a three-day weekend.

Here are 25 things for you to have in your booth

  1. Your Book(s) – This may sound obvious, but you need books to sell. If possible, find out how many people are expected to attend—I estimate one to three percent could be buyers at these events—the larger it is, the less the amount. Personally, I would have at least a few cases.
  2. Signing Pens – what’s your color? Have plenty with you.
  3. Posters – These can draw the attention of potential buyers from across the room. Make sure you get 16×20 or larger, so they are easier to see from a distance. Consider creating a five or six-foot vertical banner. I use Signworld US, Inc. 909-393-1333 or email [email protected].
  4. Prices – Make sure you create signs — not large for the price of your book(s).
  5. Credit Card Sign – Make sure you have somewhere visible on your table that you take credit cards and which ones.
  6. Square or other Credit Card Process Gadget – You will need to process credit card payments—swipe via your smart phone or tablet.
  7. Poster Frames – If you buy a decent frame, it should last you a while, and you can use it for multiple events. Make sure you bring Windex and paper towels to keep the glass clean.
  8. Display Tripod – If you have posters, you’ll need a way to display them. Having tripods is a great idea because you can adjust the height and they come with awesome carrying cases. You can have one that is small and sits on the table (or have two—they are handy) or one that is like a flip chart stand.
  9. Book Stands – A book stand is a great way to display your books and ensure that they don’t keep falling over. People like to touch, and rarely put the books back correctly. These are absolute musts—have several for display purposes.
  10. Table Banner – Having a table banner can attract a lot of attention from a distance. Just make sure that your banner isn’t too big for your table or it will droop and look unprofessional. Your book cover or graphics designer can help create one—think about having the headline read: Meet Author ____________.
  11. Bookmarks – Think ongoing marketing—bookmarks are awesome and cheap free giveaways. They also help make your table look more full and they can be used over and over again. Don’t forget to include your website, email, and where to buy your book.
  12. Request Book Reviews – Yes, do! Insert within each book a slip of paper requesting that the buyer posts a REVIEW on Amazon and Goodreads. Create a customized link to each page via Bit.ly or TinyUrl.com.
  13. Cart or Wagon – You are lugging books and “stuff”—you need wheels to help you and your back. I recently saw a lightweight, yet good size, wagon at Costco for under $50. Don’t miss out on this.
  14. Tablet and/or Mobile – If you really want to draw the crowd’s attention, putting a slideshow on a tablet can be a great hook. Go ahead—run your trailer over and over. Plus, you can process credit cards here or on your mobile—hmm, maybe you need two tablets. And, on your “spare” you can add to your email list with names inserted.
  15. Bags – You can use the plastic ones that multiply after grocery shopping OR … why not just buy some in your preferred color. Being able to give a buyer his or her book in a clean bag is a nice perk to add. Trust me—they will be grateful.
     
    Tip: If you see someone with a bunch of books—offer one of our bags to help them out—gets them to stop at your table and you just might buy one of yours as well.

  16. Power Source & Plug – Don’t expect easy access to electricity. You may need it. Having your own power source can be a game changer, especially if no one else has one—I’ve found that when I have a multi-plug back up, I have new friends—as “back-up” to watch my table if I need to find the ladies’ room. Ask what the fair provides.
  17. Business Cards – These are essential at pretty much any event. Business cards are a great way to let people know how to get in touch with you. Please make sure your website, email, contact info is included.
  18. Flyers / Brochures – If you have upcoming events or just want to share excerpts from your books, flyers are a great way to do both. If your event is not ongoing, make sure you don’t order too many or you’ll be stuck with lots of unusable flyers. It’s also suggested that you do a small order at first to see how people respond. If they don’t like them, change them, and try again until you find a design that is more effective.
  19. Awning or Tent if Outdoors – Make sure you know what’s provided or if you need to bring your own—sometimes a colorful outdoor umbrella works well—makes you different; adds a little festive touch—but it’s hauling it—remember that you need wheels to carry some of your items to your locations.
  20. Table Cloths – A must-have (at least two)—brand it with your colors—you may even want to have a sign made to display across the front so others can see what your book(s) are displayed with your name. Signworld USA can help here— table clothes hide stuff.
  21. Tape – Bring a reel of clear shipping tape. It’s a godsend.

  22. Comfy Chair – Another must is a comfortable chair or two. If the event provides, they are using leftovers from somewhere—not sturdy.
  23. Shower Curtain – It rains or may be windy. A transparent shower curtain could save your table and books.
  24. Bungee Cords and a few Weights – If there is wind, these will come in handy. Plus, you may need to hold down your signs and awning. – These are perfect for holding down your canopy and signs.
  25. Trash Bags – bring several—they are handy.

Note: Make sure you keep your table cleaned up and spiffy looking. Don’t load it up with food you are eating.

I have a few clients who focus only on craft fairs. Concentrating on book sales during the spring and summer months—every weekend is out and about. Cookbooks do very well—one sold over 10,000 in three years offering samplings of appetizers within its pages — one bite and another book was sold! So do children’s books. Books that attract women are always a hit.

And don’t forget … take pictures and post on your website and social media. Good luck!

Photo: Pixabay

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12 Comments

  1. Bob Fraser

    Thanks for the great advice!
    Motivational Speaker, Author, and Life Coach

    Reply
    • Judith

      Happy connecting at Fairs and events with your new fans Bob. Judith

      Reply
  2. Carole bas

    thank you for sharing this, very informative!
    I’m in the UK and doing my very first book promotion event this weekend.
    I shall certainly be applying this useful info!

    best wishes
    Carole Bas

    Elizabeth Willdon bas (pen name)
    author of ‘Maisie daisy strawberry Fayre’

    Reply
  3. T.L. Mumley

    Thank you so much. I am embarking on my first author booth at an upcoming Book Festival, and this list was VERY helpful!

    Reply
    • Judith Briles

      Good luck to you. Let’s hope for a lovely day; not hot; and a friendly crowd. Judith

      Reply
  4. Susan Planck

    Repeat vendors seem to do better; people get used to seeing you in the same spot. But that works better if you’re selling honey or various items that people can continue to buy. I’ve driven 2000 miles for a fair only to sell fewer than 20 books! People don’t want to carry books around, so bags can help.

    Reply
    • Judith Briles

      Susan–it’s wise to have bags, I prefer color, to give to every buyer–one, they can add other stuff to them; and two, it lets you know that it’s a purchased book. When I traveled with many of my titles, I actually has customized bags made with my name and a few of the book covers on it… not in color, just black and white–but many times others would see it at a table the buyer was sitting at and ask, “What did you get?”

      Driving 2,000 miles is a tad of a stretch–I would keep it local.

      Reply
    • Judith Briles

      Thanks Cameron … remember, if this is a route that “speaks” to you–planning is always needed. Visuals are essential. If I’m going to have nibbles on my table, I would add small packages of nuts for protein vs. the typical candy; sometimes, I would have the small half plastic of bottles of water in an ice chest … and have even put out a bowl of water for passing pooches that I would refill. Lots of comments from that and of course, people stopping. Judith

      Reply
  5. judith briles

    AND … here’s a PS … they typical book signing in a store sells 4 to 6 books … when done right … some of these events can be home runs.

    Reply
  6. judith briles

    Michael … any event can be “terrible” … I’ve been to them! We authors have to do out pre-work. Are there other authors signing? How many years has the faire/show been featured? How many have attended in the past? What have been the most active booths? How many are repeat vendors? Is the sponsor doing any promo and what type? … the What are you going to do to “goose” about your booth and you to engage those walking around? Nibbles, water, tricks … what? If you are going to just sit at a table, hoping/praying people will stop and buy a book … think again. It’s work. It’s sales … and yes pre-marketing. Judith

    Reply
  7. Michael N. Marcus

    I’d never invest in inventory, other than to have a few books available to autograph.

    I’ve spoken to several authors at crafts fairs and they all (four) said that business was terrible. They typically sold fewer than one book per hour and planned to quit after selling most of their books.

    I’m content to write and promote, and leave book selling to booksellers.

    However, I do carry book business cards and engage in conversations with potential purchasers when practical. https://www.bookmakingblog.com/2016/06/get-some-low-budget-silent-salesmen-all.html

    Reply

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