Getting Ready for a Book Fair

I participated in a two-day book fair recently and the experience reminded me how much preparation is needed before you present yourself to the public. I thought I’d take today to give you some items on my book fair preparation list.

Order books

Ordering books might seem obvious, but you never know what might go wrong with your order or with shipping. So, order copies of your book in plenty of time. A good rule of thumb is to plan to receive your shipment a week or two before the book fair.

Grab the customer’s attention

Think about how you want to present your book. One way is to just plop a stack of your books on the table. But if you’re at a book fair with 20 to 40 other authors, you need something to catch the customers’ attention so they’ll stop at your table.

1. Visual aides will pull in the audience. At a recent book fair, I went the first day without a poster or anything to catch the reader’s eye. The author at the next table was a storm chaser (Chris Kridler). I was soon painfully aware of how plain my display was as I watched her set up a projector and begin showing storm footage on the white wall… and as she pulled out a lamp that simulates a tornado… and as she pulled out stands for her books…. and as she pulled out free book marks…  You get the picture.  I was at a disadvantage.

2. Give readers something to remember you. Not everyone will buy your book at the book fair. Many will go home and think about it and buy from Amazon or your website etc. Make it easy for them to remember you and for them to find where to buy your book. Make brochures or postcards or book marks to hand out and be sure to include the buying information so they’ll be able to find your book in the marketplace easily.

3. Some people give away pens, pencils, notepads, etc., that advertise their book. As the customer, I love to gather free stuff at trade shows. Just a word of caution: it can be costly.

4. Think before you speak.  Do you have a short elevator speech about your book. If not think one up. Have it be 24 words or less… the fewer words the better. It’s just something you say that will grab and keep the person’s attention and hopefully make them pick up the book to browse through it or read the back cover.  My book is The Zen of Max. It’s the story of my cat Max. So when people walk up to the table, I point to the book and say, “It’s about my cat… It’s a memoir of great wisdom and many naps.” Usually that’s enough to get them talking.

Keep the customer’s attention

Be sure to take business cards with you and hand them out liberally.  You never know when someone who you give a card to might give it to someone else and  they buy the book too.

Also, take a notebook and a pen to set on your table. It’s a good time to add to your mailing list. If you put out an e-newsletter, offer to send it to those who sign up.

Book fairs are more than selling the book you have available at the moment. It’s about selling you. You are the product. You engage with people and if they like you and remember you, they will most likely buy every book you write.

Do you have other suggestions?

About loubelcher

I'm a freelance artist and writer. I enjoy anything whimsical and my art and writing generally concentrate on the lighter side of life.
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16 Responses to Getting Ready for a Book Fair

  1. jaimiengle says:

    Fabulous post!! I’m stealing everything in it for my next book showing. Thanks, Lou!!

  2. cecilia07 says:

    Goodnees your mom is very busy and we know she is enjoying each moment too.
    Hugs madi your bfff

  3. Frankie and Ernie says:

    May I make One suggestion… it is something I have seen done by Authors… Staple a small piece of Wrapped Hard Candy to your cards… They well think of you LONGER that way and when they see the CARD with the two Staple holes… think, “OH yes, I remember that nice piece of Peppermint candy. That was so refreshing. Maybe I’ll have a look at the author’s Web Site.”
    You must have that HOOK and Reminder.

    Well done. Well Said. Well thought out… Hope OTHERS will learn from you.

  4. Thank you, Lou. That was a great article. I need to think about how to translate that into prep for an art show. Helen Wheatley – Artist


  5. Brian Frum says:

    That sure is a lot to do. Those boys need to give you a helping paw!

  6. Clooney says:

    I really enjoyed this post Lou! There’s so much that goes into preparing that one might not consider, very interesting.

  7. I think you covered all basis and yes it is about you for without you there would be no book. Hope it went well. Have a tremendous Thursday.
    Best wishes Molly

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