7 Simple Steps to Succeed at Book Fairs

London Book Fair

Selling books at book fairs can be an exciting event for newly published authors (or any authors, actually). Book fairs, author signings, and other live events offer your chance to meet readers face-to-face, mingle with other writers, and most importantly, sell some books!  Book fairs take place year around all around the country and the world. Your local library most likely has a calendar of upcoming book fairs, or you can always conduct a search online. Once you schedule your appearance and reserve your space at a book fair or author event, it is time to consider what your “space” is going to look like.  Typically, you will be provided a 10-foot x 10-foot space with a 6 foot long table and two chairs. The rest is up to you. But it’s what you do with this “blank canvas” that often separates a successful event (where every attendee stops to check out your book) from an unsuccessful one (where you watch in misery as the crowd passes you by to check out other authors and other books).

So how do you make sure your author space is unskippable? By following these seven simple steps.

  1. Dress to impress. That doesn’t always mean dressing professionally. It means dressing in a way that is related to your book or to your author brand.  Have you written a series of children’s books? Dress as the main character. Do you write spy novels? Dress like James Bond. Westerns? Wear your sharpest cowboy attire, spiffiest cowboy boots, and shotguniest cowboy hat. You get the idea.  

  2. Act the part.  Don’t just stop with the outfit.   If you’re dressing as one of your characters, introduce yourself as the protagonist (or antagonist) of the books on your table. Does your character have an accent? Use it.

  3. Be approachable. Even if the character you are playing is a gruff sour puss, you certainly don’t want to be.  Put on your friendliest face and your biggest smile for this event and stand at the side of your table rather than sitting behind it.  Greet everyone who approaches with a friendly nod, a bright smile, or a chipper “Hello!”

  4. Dress your space.  Now that we have you covered, let’s discuss your space.  Certainly having a lot of copies of your book(s) on the table is important, but that’s not enough to attract the kind of attention you want. This is where posters come in.  Two large posters of your book cover are worth their weight in gold (and are reusable from book fair to book fair). Hang one from the front of the table and one on the wall (or divider curtain) behind you.  This is just another reason why a stellar cover is so important. Make sure your cover is an eye pleaser and a crowd pleaser.

  5. Dress your table.  Depending upon the event, your table may or may not come with a table cloth.  Which is why you want to bring one. Be sure the color contrasts with the cover of your book so your books “pop” while on display.   Another way to make sure the books “pop” is to display them artistically or creatively. Rather than just placing a stack of them on the corner of the table, arrange them face out and at different heights by resting them on and against various sized props or boxes.

  6. Prop your table.  Books aren’t the only thing that should grace your table.  If you have any book awards, be sure to display them. If you don’t have a physical award, print out the certificate or award image and display that instead.  If you have received a glowing review or endorsement, print that and bring it, as well. Or better yet, select the best blurb and incorporate that into your poster.  It’s also not a bad idea to have a dish of candy or some sort of edible “treat” (and if it ties in with your book, all the better!).

  7. Bring business cards and pens.  Another item for the table is a stack of business cards (ideally, they’re also branded with your book cover and include ordering information).  Many of the people you talk with may not buy your book right then and there, but they’ll always take a business card and that may turn into a sale down the road. The pens aren’t to give away (unless you have branded pens with your website on it, which is a good idea); the pens are to sign copies of all the book you’ll be selling, because you’ve followed these seven simple steps to succeed at book fairs. Way to go! 

    brent sampson
    In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
    In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list

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