Sunday, January 13, 2008

Why Book Fairs Are Like Tulips

It may be dead-of-winter in your neck of the woods, but spring is creeping up on us. That means book fairs will be sprouting about the same time as the tulips. So put on your promotion hat and your get-with-it boots and be thinking about how you can take advantage of fairs. There are all kinds of ways and the most likely way, surprisingly enough, may not be to take a booth at a fair.

Here are alternatives.

 Share a booth with one or more authors. Or rent an hour's signing time with an organization like Authors' Coalition of Book Publicists of Southern California.

 Just go to the fair. In costume or not. Take fliers. Hand them out. Put them on the tables in the refreshment area. This works best for authors who have exhausted those on their local lists meaning there may not be one on the list who hasn't purchased their book anyway. It's also great for authors who haven't yet published.

 Pitch yourself as a speaker or panel moderator. If no one bites on your offer, the fair planners will know you are out there.

 Take part in value-added promotions that Authors' Coalition builds around the fairs it does. You don't have to live in the area or be willing to pay travel expenses in order to participate in them with us. The organization provides what might be termed long distance promotion. This year they'll have CDs for readers, a slideshow for those who are active speakers, a catalog that goes out by mail to booksellers and maybe even totes (more about that in about a month).

 As an information source - Read book fair fliers and catalogs. Research the names of the publishers - of the writers' organizations - of the services offered authors for promotion. Last year I ran across the US Postal Service booth and learned about the stamps they will print for you--with your book cover on them!

 If you consult, edit or provide any other book-related service, a fair may be the place for you. Authors' Den partnered with Authors' Coalition last year by providing fliers and a contest to win an iPod. Bet they got lots of new associates that way because the interest was huge.

 Your book club or writers' organization can help other writers by sponsoring a speaker at a book fair. The Tennessee Writers' Alliance sponsored me at the Southern Festival of Books , and they certainly did me a favor as well as -- I hope -- providing a service for the betterment of their writing community.

Now is the time to do your research, make your plans. Check out Authors' Coalition, whether you can make it in person to the LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books , or want them to work for you from a distance with their value-added programs. See if there's a fair in your stomping grounds that you can support or utilize. Learn how to make any fair work for you with AC's blog that explores what worked best for the ones they have done in the past (yes, they are your laboratory!).

Find a way to use a fair to reach readers, booksellers, the people you speak to and to cross promote. Writers need each other to make our efforts go farther and farther.

Happy writing, promoting and, yes, editing,

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, HoJoNews@aol.com
Find details on participating in the Authors' Coalition booth at the LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books at http://www.authorscoalitionandredenginepress.com/fair_booths.htm.

-------

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author THIS IS THE PLACE; HARKENING: A COLLECTION OF STORIES REMEMBERED; TRACINGS, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books, THE FRUGAL BOOK PROMOTER: HOW TO DO WHAT YOUR PUBLISHER WON'T; and THE FRUGAL EDITOR: PUT YOUR BEST BOOK FORWARD TO AVOID HUMILIATION AND ENSURE SUCCESS.
Her other blogs include TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com and AuthorsCoalition.blogspot.com, a blog that helps writers and publishers turn a ho-hum book fair booth into a sizzler.

Search This Blog

Best Selling Author TV Video