Many independent authors work book fairs and community events to get additional sales. But are these events worth doing?
Depends on your agenda.
If you are looking for extremely high volume sales, keep looking. If you are interested in seeing who else is out there, comparing notes, learning a bit, and actually meeting and speaking with real readers, these events are rich experiences.
Don’t get me wrong, some book fairs do result in satisfactory sales, but what they offer in hard truths and firsthand knowledge seem to always outperform sales.
I was at the Collingswood Book Fair this weekend, and despite foul weather, I learned a few valuable lessons:
1) First, readers there were looking for YA material. I have a series in the works; now I am inspired to move up its publishing timeline.
2) Sincere fun energy attracts customers (this CANNOT be faked). Work with friends if you can.
3) When customers sincerely want the book, and come back to the book, but are struggling with the price, be open to what it will take to make that sale.
4) Make sure you have time and table coverage to visit with other writers at other booths, and bring business cards to exchange. Networking is part of the value here.
5) Always, always, always treat the book fair runners warmly. These people do not work for you, they are working with you.
6) Have reasonable, or better still, conservative expectations regarding sales numbers for the day.
7) Remember to have fun. It was amazing to see how many booths were staffed by unhappy people. This drives potential customers away. Can anyone say vicious cycle?
8) Do not be afraid to say hi. Sometimes, breaking the ice is all it takes to make a sale.
9) Bring snacks, a sweater, comfortable shoes that will stay dry.
10) Be comfortable but professionally presentable.
I hope this helps Indy authors have positive book fair experiences.