While doing one my favorite things, research, I came across two informative articles on selling your books at booths by Belea T. Keeney. I found them so informative that I asked permission to encapsulate them for you with notes on where to read the complete articles.
“Selling books directly tor readers via an event is a very personal, hands-on approach to marketing your titles,” begins Keeney's two part article on twenty great tips on how to effectively market your books.
1-2. Evaluate your genre and market, then decide which events will be right for you and your book. Keeney says to begin with local and regional events to get a feel for your market and if you are pitching your book to the right audience. She gives several good examples of potential local venues emphasizing the area places: street fairs, Saturday markets, and local groups that may have an interest in your theme. She suggests trying genre specific places such as garden clubs if you mystery is set in a garden or state fairs or horse shows if your novel is about horses.
3-4. Start small and local to test the market and get a sense of cost vs. return. Local events will have a lower booth cost rental fee and you will not incur large travel expenses. You may be able to obtain a write-up in the local or neighborhood newspaper, newsletters of groups to which you belong or special interest newsletters that relate to your subject. You may be able to rent a booth for one to three days. Large festivals often will not let you break down your booth early. There are always your local bookstores that will advertise your book signing free on their web sites. Think about pairing with another local author to draw more people and share expenses.
5. Register [to rent space] online or by mail. Keeney recommends you read the information forms carefully and do exactly as the form says. Keep hard copies of all correspondence and receipts and bring them with you the day(s) of the event.
6. If you are lucky enough to have multiple [book] titles, decide which one(s) you will take with you and how many copies. Place an order with your publisher. If your publisher offers other authors’ books on somewhat the same subject, take a few of those along to draw in more people.
7-8-9. The week before the event, confirm your vendor status by contacting the festival organizers, write up your packing list, and recruit a helper. Keeney has a number of suggestions of items to draw people into your booth like posters, bookmarks, banners, a pen for autographs, as well as items for your personal comfort. The day before pack up your items using your packing list. Most events provide an unloading area. Even if you hire help or ask a friend to help for an hour, your task will be easier and safer.
10. How many books can you sell? She says that zero-thirty has been her experience with an attendance of less than 10,000. She lists many other ideas to try if you have only one title.
Part ii: Working the Booth
1-2, 4. Make contact and break the ice. The first goal is to get people to stop. Stand up and put on a smile. Ask open-ended questions such as, “What do you like to read?” Shyness is a problem for some people. If this a trouble area for you, Kenney suggests starting out by greeting every tenth person, then every fifth, and then every person who walks by. Many will not stop so do not take it personally. Practice not being “in their faces.” Stand slightly away from the front and do not crowd them when they are browsing.
3, 5, 7. Steer them towards your books! Once you know their interests, put a book in their hands. After you give them a one sentence synopsis of the book, "watch their eyes.” Promote your co-booth vendor's books a little too. It good business to make friends with the vendors next to you. You never know where a kind word, compliment or helping hand will lead. If you do not make a sale, do not worry. You have made contact and given them your information on a bookmark, flyer or mini poster of your book cover, and your web site information. It is a beginning.
8. Eat away from the booth or at least out of sight. Hide your food and take small bites that you can swallow quickly if a passer-by shows interest. Eat at the back of the booth if you cannot leave the site unattended.
9. Make notes about who buys the book. Write down what you know about the person who bought your book: age, gender, children, and their interests. If you have autographed books, try to remember their names and thank them in your blog (make sure you tuck a book mark with blog address and all titles of your books printed on it into the signed book.) Keeney says this is good way to get a feel for your market and if you are marketing to the right audience in the right way.
10. Try to enjoy yourself! One excellent use of time Belea Keeny recommends is to make observations and time spent at the booth work for you. Use a notebook to quickly jot down ideas, conversation topics, snatches of dialogue, and descriptions of people who walk by or buy your book to use in future stories.
This has been synopsis of a wonderful two-part article by Belea T. Keeney, Author. Editor. Wordsmith. She has written seven books. Her URL is www.beleatkeeney.com. These articles can be seen in their complete form at http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/booth1.shtml and http://www.writing-world.com/promotion/booth2.shtml. Permission was given by the author to give this synopsis. Many thanks for Belea Keeney's generosity in sharing her wisdom with other writers!