Writers: Tips on Selling Books at Bazaars & Fairs

Strive Not to Be a Success,
But to Be of Value.

                                           Albert Einstein
By Linda Wilson

This holiday season I joined with two other children’s authors to share a table at two holiday bazaars held at local high schools. It was my first time. I learned a lot, had loads of fun, and am thrilled that I’ve found a good way to sell my books in person. Up until now, I’ve been working on a marketing plan to interest readers online on social media sites and elsewhere, and to be honest, I haven’t even scratched the surface. While I continue to market my books online, I have decided it’s worth it to pursue marketing locally as well.

Here is a list of the items to consider:

City permit and/or state license: Check to see what permits and/or licenses are required in your area.
Books: Order copies in advance.
Square: Google “Square Reader” to see if your phone works with a free reader. All three of us used Squares at the fair. We did run into a problem, though, of having on-and-off service because we were situated in the middle of the building. Sales were made by stepping close to the door or outside. To advertise that you accept Square, fit a square sticker that comes with Square into a frame to display on the table.
Change: Make sure you have enough change for cash sales. Note: Keep track of purchases and which books were sold.
Take your favorite pen: Purchasers seemed delighted to receive signed copies, so you might have a favorite pen you want to take specifically for this.
Table: Check to see if you need to take your own table. About two tables, 40x40, which we brought, gave us the room we needed for our display.
Tablecloth and small decorations for the season.
Stool: Having a higher perch than a chair enabled me to sell while seated. The others using regular chairs had to stand and sit frequently throughout the day.
Sign-up sheet and pen: Each purchaser can sign their email address so you can send them your newsletters.
Posters: Foam-backed posters are available at Staples of your book covers at a low cost.
Poster stands and an upright stand: These stands help advertise your books and the upright stand on the table allows customers to see the books easily. Also, we made stacks of books set in neat rows across our areas.
Price sign: A colorful way to advertise the price of your books is to make cut outs with bright, neon paper. I made my cut out a star design with a bright pink background and a bright yellow star inside the pink star, with the price written in bright purple marker.
Misc. marketing materials: Bookmarks, pens, stickers, etc. I created my own To-do pad by splitting 3x3 post-its pads into about three sections, adhering my business card to a business-card-size magnetic card that I bought at Amazon Prime. The business card adheres to the magnetic card, then I taped the back of the magnetic card to the section of post-its with strong double-sided tape. On the top post-it I stamped an illustration and a quote from my first book in bright red. I bought the stamps and ink from RubberStamps.net. I gave the To-do pads to purchasers.
Candy: Put candy out in a colorful dish.
Item to donate: You might be asked to donate an item for a silent auction.
Cart or suitcase: You will accumulate more than you can imagine, especially if you need to take your own table and chair/stool. Both my author friends used heavy duty collapsible folding wagons (available on Amazon Prime) to carry their items in and out. I used a suitcase and they shared their space for my larger items. In the future, I plan to invest in this type of wagon. We still made more than one trip, but the wagon made it easy.
Lunch and snacks: Think of what you’d like to have to eat and drink. It’s a long day with few breaks.

I learned a lot from my fellow authors who have sold their books together for a while. The best part of it is that it was fun being with them. It turned out that our books covered pre-school to adult. So, when someone showed an interest, we would ask if they were looking for a book for a certain age child and what they liked to read, then we could direct them to the books we thought were most suitable. Quite a few adults were interested in the books for adults, and some made purchases.

The best part was meeting my readers face to face. To see their eyes light up when they heard about my books and enjoyed looking at the illustrations made my efforts in writing for children rewarding beyond measure. I came home bubbling over with enthusiasm to dig into my next project . . . and my next fair.
Happy Holidays!

Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher, has published over 150 articles for children and adults, several short stories for children, and her books, Secret in the Stars: An Abi Wunder Mystery, and A Packrat's Holiday: Thistletoe's Gift, which are available on Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/author/lindawilsonchildrensauthorSecret in the Mist, the second book in the Abi Wunder Myatery series, and the picture book, Tall Boots, will be out soon. Visit Linda at https://www.lindawilsonauthor.com


Terry Whalin said...


What a great checklist of items for selling books. I've forgotten some of those items and regret it every time. Thank you for this insightful article.


lastpg said...

Thanks, Terry. It was fun. Fairs are a good way to gauge how people respond to our books.

Karen Cioffi said...

Linda, I love how proactive you are with your book marketing! You've provided a detailed and practical list for authors who decide to sell their books at bazaars, fairs, and other book marketing events. Thanks for sharing!

lastpg said...

Thanks, Karen. Marketing locally I found to be very rewarding. I hope my checklist helps other authors who want to give it a try.

deborah lyn said...

Great move Linda. Fairs are wonderful for meeting, greeting and growing readership. And, can also be exhausting because you are ON non-stop.
Absolutely, your checklist and personal feedback are both very helpful!

lastpg said...

Thank you, Deborah. The first day I was amazed at the amount of effort it took to set up, sell, then take down because that fair was only one day. The following weekend was a two-day fair which made setup/takedown a little easier. Plus, by then I understood the amount of effort it took and it seemed a whole lot easier than the first time around!

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