Monday, March 11, 2013

Expensive Book Fairs--A La Ann Landers Q&A


QUESTION:


New author Andres had purchased my Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo)  and wanted to know if a book fair that charged $1200 for a booth was worth the money. Yikes! I cover that topic more fully in The Frugal Book Promoter (http://budurl.com/FrugalBkPromo), where I also talk about the benefits of sharing booths and warn against placing books in booths without being attendance so I sent him to the proper section (he hadn't thought of using the handy  index), but here is a quick rundown for this regular Q&A column from my SharingwithWriters newsletter.

 

ANSWER:

 Dear Andres:


I am not that excited about the success of "cold" book signings at fairs or anywhere else. At least not for authors who haven't already built a major following.
 
It’s not that these signings can’t work, but newbies generally have unrealistic expectations for them and most authors—unless they’re famous or working the fair as if their life depended on it—rarely make their investment back on profit from the books they sell. Having said that, there are many other benefits to participating in book fairs and I suggest you use the index in The Frugal Book Promoter to explore the topic of “book fairs," "book signings" and other related topics. In the meantime, here are a few ways to have a more successful booth and walk away knowing many of the obvious (and hidden) benefits!


1.   ~Have something free for people who walk by—like food or a free e-book.

2.   ~Offer a free gift with purchase.

3.   ~Have a drawing for everyone. You could use an exceptionally nice gift like a boxed set of Harry Potter books for an entire year of promotions. In other words, quality will attract more readers than offering a new gift at every signing.

4.   ~Hang good posters that feature you and the cover of your book. Use the words "Now appearing," and "Award-Winning" where applicable.

5.   ~Don't expect bookstore or book fair planners to do anything or have anything set up. Some will but not much and not many.

6.   ~Send out info to calendar sections in local newspapers and to feature editors and to book editors in whatever community you'll be appearing in. Please be aware that one of the biggest benefits of a book fair is the opportunity they give you to get f r ~ ~ publicity.  

7.   ~Bring your own good signing pen.

8.   ~Have "autographed copy" stickers made.

9.   ~Offer to sign leftover copies for the bookstore. Many stores have "local authors" or "signed copy" sections. Offer your book as a gift to people who you think may influence others to buy your book. Say, movie directors, newspaper reporters or editors, and people active in literary circles like the planners of your fair.

10. ~Offer to send autographed bookplates to your bookstore manager when he/she reorders. Remind those who buy your book that you can also dedicate (and sign) your book to make it a more meaningful gift item.

11. ~Send thank you notes to everyone involved in the fair. Including your booth neighbors, fair planners, etc.

12. ~Come home and build lists with the e-mail addresses you collected in your guestbook, your drawing. Ask for cards from the influencers you met (see numbers six and nine).


Of course, there are times to break the rules—for an expensive or inexpensive booth. But that's another article for another day and those exceptions are also covered in your copy of The Frugal Book Promoter.


 

Hope this helps!

CHJ, your Ann Landers of the Writing World

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and how to books for writers including the award-winning second edition of, The Frugal Book Promoter: How to get nearly free publicity on your own or by partnering with your publisher; The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success; and Great Little Last Minute Editing Tips for Writers . The Great First Impression Book Proposal is her newest booklet for writers. She has three FRUGAL books for retailers including A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. Some of her other blogs are TheNewBookReview.blogspot.com, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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