Trading at Book Fairs, Writers Festivals, and even some markets can be an expensive exercise yet time after time as I walk around these events I see authors are not taking advantage of the opportunity to promote that they have paid good money for.
More often than not I see the authors looking bored and grumpy sitting behind their books and tables, staring dolefully at their phone or tablet. This has often come about because they are disappointed and dispirited, they entered the venture with expectations, which have not been met.
They haven’t sold the number of books they hoped and planned for, they are angry at the organiser for ‘misrepresenting the event’ or in an abyss of self doubt about their book.
To make these events successful and stay upbeat authors need to change their expectations and approach. They need to focus on what they will succesful with at each and every event and change the column in the accounting books they put these expenses under. It is not a sales cost.
Authors should focus on these events as a marketing and promotions opportunity and work to get flyers and promotional material into the hands of the people walking by. Readers are shy, social animals, they love to read books by authors that they feel connected to. Make a connection to readers and your fan base and sales will grow.
Readers do attend book events to meet authors and find new books but many have scoured the website beforehand and made a list of authors and books that have caught their eye. They have budgeted to spend a set amount of money. If you appear on their radar after the budget is spent you will not make a sale today, but you will make a sale next week or payday, or in a month when they finish the books they have bought.
The flyers, brochures, postcards or whatever you choose to use must be memorable. Readers will be given many and pick up more at the Fair/Expo make sure yours has all your book covers on it and a photo of you, many authors just have their book cover, remember the reader made a connection to you, the author. Have the synopsis from the rear cover of your book on your material, this is an extra check they are buying the right book online or off the shelf. Finally details of where they can buy your book.
If you can control the price, offer a discount or discount code for a number of weeks after the event for anyone who spoke to you and took a brochure.
An author who focuses on talking to as many people as possible and handing out flyers and chatting about their book will stay upbeat and positive. Any author, especially a new author, who focuses on sales will become dispirited and morose, this demeanour will only send sales even lower as readers hesitate to approach your booth or avoid it completely.
Sitting with your head down and over a tablet will give the impression of being busy or in thought and most people, out of courtesy. will avoid ‘interupting’ you. Looking happy upbeat and open for a joke or a chat will always be the best way to attract people to stop and chat.
Try and not sit behind your table, stand beside it or in front and look active, even chat to other exhibitors. Readers will happily join in if the conversation appears open, as a group rather than a one on one, they willeven pause and eves-drop if it doesn’t appear to be rude. Have an interactive, eye catching, conversation opening item on your booth to help and you’ll be on your way to more fans and growing sales with little effort.