Showing posts with label marketing book fairs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label marketing book fairs. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

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 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, 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

Friday, April 5, 2019

A Case Study of a Book Fair Booth That Works

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

I often encourage my clients to reach a bit farther than one expects from a new author--regardless of their expertise or experience. For one thing, the services available to authors (like spots at in book fair booths) are often bare-bones. The alternative may be to do-it-yourself and even make a profit which can then be used to boost the author's marketing budget for the future.

I once sponsored book fair booths at the LA TimesFestival of Books with Joyce Faulkner after we started a writers' group called Authors' Coalition.  Slowly and at considerable cost—one year at a time—I learned what works for book fairs, tradeshows, and other public events and what doesn’t. My booth partners and I used tons of value-added promotions including:
  • We shared printing and postage costs of catalogs we produced ourselves that featured booth participants’ books and an invitation to the fair. With permission, we used the fair logo to give the catalog credibility. We sent our catalog to book buyers, media, and influentials like movie producers (because that fair is in the middle of Hollywood land).
  • We produced a video/trailer featuring booth participants at an additional charge. The charge made it more likely that our video stars would use it for their blogs, websites, and other promotion both before and after the fair and we ran it on a large screen in our booth.
Note: Because CDs can be produced inexpensively in large quantities, we recycled much of the content we developed for these videos and trailers onto CDs to be given away. A participating author offered our freebies to visitors saying, “A CD for your PC?” Fairgoers rarely declined our offer.
  • Books (often overruns or slightly damaged) donated by other authors became gifts-with-purchase of other books from our booth.
  • A drawing for a gift basket was successful because it garnered the contact information of many readers. We shared that information with all booth participants, too.
  • We produced totes and bags featuring our bookcover images and our booth number. We gave them to folks to carry the books they had purchased from us. These bags then became advertisements for our booth as our customers carried them around the grounds.
  • Some of our booth participants wore T-shirts emblazoned with images of their bookcovers, their website addresses, and our booth number.
  • Each participant produced posters that we used to decorate the booth.
  • We had mini training sessions for our booth participants in which we urged them to talk up one another’s books, guided them through promotion possibilities and display techniques, and gave them resources for promotion materials.
Authors' Coalition eventually demanded too much of our time, but what we learned promotion possibilities has been useful ever since. We sometimes volunteer one or more of the above promotions in trade for an organization's booth fee. We sometimes consult with organizations who plan booths for their members. And, occasionally, we get permission from booth planners to let us piggyback our for-profit services on their booth plans with a percentage of the sales going back to the originating organization. That's a win-win for everyone.


Carolyn Howard-Johnson is an award-winning novelist, poet, and author of the HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers. She taught editing and marketing classes at UCLA Extension’s world-renowned Writers’ Program for nearly a decade and carefully chooses one novel she believes in a year to edit. The Frugal Editor ( award-winner as well as the winner of Reader View's Literary Award in the publishing category. She is the recipient of both the California Legislature's Woman of the Year in Arts and Entertainment Award and the coveted Irwin award. She appears in commercials for the likes of Blue Shield, Disney Cruises (Japan), and Time-Life CDs and is a popular speaker at writers’ conferences. Her website is

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