This is a blog post about how to sell books at a book festival. I'm going to break it down into seven easy steps:
1. Book a stall. You'd think this was obvious, but last year, one errant author stomped around the NZ Book Festival asking if he could join someone else's table, anyone's table, as he hadn't organised himself a stand (and didn't want to pay for one). Don't be that person.
2. Have copies of your book available for sale. Fairly self explanatory. But, some people don't... I'm a firm believer that people go to book festivals/fairs to meet authors, and to buy copies of their books, which they then see the author sign - usually with a dedication. I know that's why I buy books direct from authors at festivals, or am happy to stand in a queue for two hours for a signature & photo (David Walliams!)
3. Unless you ARE David Walliams, you are going to need more than just a trestle table. A simple white sheet works wonders. No one wants to see the cartons under your table. A vase of flowers perhaps? A professionally printed sign saying who you are and what your book is. Something on an artists easel behind you? BUSINESS CARDS. You want to draw in the eye of the passersby. You have to make it easy for them. Most people are shy, and won't necessarily ask you what your book is about, or even how much it is. Signage is an easy fix. Invest in something professional.
4. Money matters. Have you got change? Lots of change? Do you have an EFTPOS machine (or another electronic payment system). How often do you carry cash? Do you think the attendees at the book festival will all be carrying cash? They might have $30, enough for one book maybe, but probably not. Make it easy for them, and you.
5. Gift with purchase. Ah, those are three lovely words aren't they? What can you give away with your book to make the purchase of it that much more enticing? A bookmark? A free novella? A book bag? Sweets? The list is endless, and should align somewhat with your book - if you can.
6. The right attitude. And yes, this includes dressing the part, and I don't mean dress ups. Are you schlepping around the festival in jeans and a singlet? Or are you wearing smart trousers or a skirt. Have you brushed your hair/done your teeth? All fairly benign things, but gosh it makes a difference to how you are perceived by people who don't know you or your book. You know how we all judge a book by its cover? You will be judged by your personal presentation. Make an effort. You're there as a serious author, selling your books, trying to gain traction in a market full of other authors doing the exact same thing.
7. Smile. Also self explanatory. A smile goes a lot further than you think.
I will be selling my books at the New Zealand Book Festival on Saturday 5th November from 10am-4.30pm at the Mt Eden War Memorial Hall, 487 Dominion Road, Mt Eden (across the road from Potters Park).
I would love to see you there, sell you a book or two, and sign them for you. xxx