Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summertime = Festivaltime

Although it has rained for half the summer here in Atlanta, summer time still means festival season! And if you’re publishing a book, you may be thinking about selling it at a festival, such as the Decatur Book Festival, in Decatur, GA, the largest independent book festival in the country. Festival selling may not be the right strategy for every genre of book, but for some it’s a great fit. Keep in mind, however, that festival goers aren’t there just to buy a book, and usually they don’t even know that your book exists, so it’s up to you to stand out from the crowd ... and I do mean crowd!

Bring more than just your book
Remember the last time you went to a festival for fun. You stopped when something caught your eye, right? That’s your goal when planning your booth or table setup. You want to create a display that will catch the eye of a potential reader (book buyer). Take a theme from your book and extend it. Have a giant poster printed, get someone to dress in a costume, have someone doing the hobby of your main character, use props. Have something, anything other than just sitting the books and some postcards on a table! You may have to check with the festival organizers to get the okay on bringing certain items onto festival grounds.

Do a drawing or giveaway
What better way to attract people to your table than by having a contest or prize drawing? Your giveaway can be something as simple as one free copy of your book. Who doesn’t love the sound of the words “Win” or “Free”? A large event like a festival is a perfect opportunity for you to start building a mailing list, and a great way to do that is with a giveaway. Keep in mind that if you plan to add people to your subscriber list, some contact management programs require subscriber permission (also known as “opt in”). Simply have an entry slip requesting the name and email address of those entering your drawing, and be sure to mention that they will also be added to your electronic mailing list.

Don’t just sit there
The authors we see selling the most books at book festivals are not the ones sitting quietly behind the table. They’re up, moving around, approaching people as they walk by, greeting, talking, smiling, waving, and making a connection. If you’re sitting behind the table, looking shy, staring down, looking at your phone, or you seem uncomfortable, why would someone want to approach the table and look at your book? The worst that can happen is that they might say “No thanks” and keep walking, but at least you’ll have reached out. Hiding behind the table all day is a big a waste of your time, especially if you’ve paid to be part of the festival! Talking to strangers about your book in brief exchanges helps you focus your message. So take advantage of the opportunity to test out your book talk skills. You might also want to take a few minutes to greet other authors who are there.

Trade tips
Find out what other authors have done that works, and what mistakes they’ve made that you can avoid. Events like these can be as much about networking as about selling.

Most importantly, smile
Yes, smile! Have fun, you’ve published your book and you should be proud to show it off to the public. Potential readers/buyers are much more likely to approach an author who’s smiling and having a great time than one who looks unhappy to be there.


Angela DeCaires is the Marketing & Communications Manager for BookLogix Publishing Services. She oversees corporate communications for BookLogix, and also assists BookLogix’s authors in the publishing process. Angela’s background includes experience in public relations, writing, broadcasting and journalism, having held positions in public relations and as a news writer/TV news producer.


1 comment:

  1. Really good advice. Thanks. The only such fair I took part in, my partner and I were dressed as pirates. It's our niche, and we played it, and people responded. It was a largish bookfair and as near as I could tell, we drew more people and more sales than the rest of the authors – except for one. Yeah, we couldn't compete with the crowds drawn by Ursula LeGuin. But who can?