Meeting your public, one event at a time.

Welcome back to another blog hop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.

Don’t forget to click the purple button to see what everyone else has to say on this week’s subject. It’s at the end of my post.

Do you attend book selling events? (Can be local events such as craft shows and festivals.) What is your best tip to sell books at one?

Before COVID, I used to attend a lot of these events. I sold quite a few paperbacks that way.

Back in 2019, I embarked on a programme of updating all my book covers to create a coherent brand. I planned to sell all the old paperbacks at events in early 2020, at cost price, to clear the way for my new editions.

As we all know, things didn’t quite go as planned in 2020.

I’m left with about 120 copies of paperbacks with my old covers, only the new titles I’ve published since then (and restocked titles) have been printed with my new branding. The whole thing is a total mess.

I still do events but not as many. Here’s what my setup looks like at the moment.

As you can see, it’s a mixture of styles. I’ve tried to present the best of my old covers and not have clashes within the styles of the series books, which are half and half, cover-wise.

I keep the later volumes in series “under the counter” and only offer them if someone buys the first part.

As for the way I present myself, I like to try to talk to everyone who passes. Whether it’s a cheery “hello” or some other short phrase, I think it’s important not to sit behind your table and wait for people to talk to you.

Eye contact and engagement can start conversations, after all, people wouldn’t be at a book fair if they didn’t have any interest in books and therefore in the people who write them.

The trick is finding out which type of story people like. And there I have a secret weapon.

That’s my multi-genre catalogue.

So, whatever they say they like, I have a title that probably can be shoehorned into the genre. And, with my love of talking, I can even make it sound like something they should be reading.

Another great way to get attention at book fairs is by agreeing (or offering) to give a talk. It’s just a free advert to a captive audience, the subject is relatively unimportant. All you need to do is be enthusiastic and have a rough idea of how to link your subject to what you’ve written.

I’ve also experimented with free short stories and excerpts, printed on my laser printer and stapled into booklets. They’re cheap to produce and great conversation openers, nobody ever turns them down.

I’ve given them out, seen people reading them over coffee and had them come back and buy a book later the same day.

What do you think about this week’s subject?

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Until next time.

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8 Responses

    • Richard Dee

      Maybe, but not to begin with. I think I frightened a lot of people away.

  1. Darlene Foster

    You hit the nail on the head. You need to engage with people. I agree, smile at everyone who passes by and say something. Things like: I hope you are enjoying the fair, I like your scarf, isn’t it nice to see the sun etc. (obviously not the same thing to everyone). I like to talk to people so it comes naturally for me. I realize this isn’t the case for some.

    • Richard Dee

      Talking to strangers took me a bit of getting used to, but it has bought dividends.

    • Richard Dee

      A commiccon was where somebody bought a book and later that day, came back and asked me for a refund. I’ve never done another one.

    • Richard Dee

      They are relatively cheap and easy to make. I think the sample chapters and short stories help get the word out.

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