Last time we discussed how book fairs are an important part of any author’s Personal Appearance Tour. Many large urban centres and small towns and counties hold them at least once a year.
But what if yours doesn’t? No problem – you can put one together yourself!
Let me tell you what happened to me.
I grew up in (what was at the time) a small town. Although it’s more than tripled in size since those days there’s still a strong sense of community now. So when I released my novel Raincloud I was looking for ways to promote it there, sort of a “Local Boy Makes Something of Himself” type of thing. I had already appeared at two book fairs in the city where I currently live, so I thought I’d bring that model up to my hometown.
Here are some tips to consider should you ever find yourself in a position to put a book fair together in your (or any) town.
1) Find a municipally-owned downtown venue. With many small town downtowns suffering from the expansion of box stores (which are usually located far away from the town core), many municipalities love vendors who drive traffic downtown. And they express that love through a break in the license fee. Or, if you can find a place that will donate a space, even better!
Most halls and community centres have tables, chairs and a kitchen/serving area you can use for free as well. Just be sure to book early – some community centres are booked for months and even years in advance.
2) Develop a locally-themed brand. For example, if you live in Orange County, a simple brand like “The Orange County Writer’s Market” or, even better, “The Orange County Book Fair” would do nicely. Plus, by expanding your geographic area to an entire county, you have better reach.
3) Tie the event to a local foundation. A portion of the door receipts ($2 per person) could go to a local hospital or library, or some other common-interest foundation. No one will refuse to pay $2 if the money is going to charity and/or to cover basic operating expenses.
4) Contact a local celebrity to be a special guest. Know any published authors or community leaders that hail from your town? Call them up and invite them to headline.
5) Solicit volunteers. Family and friends can check coats or sell snacks and bottled water. Not that you’re looking to make a large profit here, but expenses have to be covered. Don’t forget to show your appreciation by throwing them a little party when the event is over!
6) Find participants. What good is a book fair with no writers? Visit area writers groups and tell them about your event. Invite them to participate. Get them directly involved!
7) Spread the word. Use social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to announce the event. Put up posters, fax press releases to local papers, do whatever it takes to get the word out.
8) Crunch numbers. For a nominal fee (something like $10) an author can have the table for the day. Authors keep any money they make. Short of authors? Consider including artists of any stripe: musicians selling CDs, artists selling paintings, etc. Just fill those tables!
Also, as mentioned above, selling concession items can help offset costs.
9) Lose the guilt. Many authors feel like they’ve sold out should they become successful. Don’t do that to yourself. There’s nothing wrong with an author making money. Besides, anyone who becomes an author solely to make a lot of money needs their head examined.
Putting an event together like this takes a lot of effort. I know you’ll put on a great one.
See you out there!
If you’re a writer, write. And if you’re a reader, keep reading. We need you!
Richard Todd is an author, blogger, and Social Media guy. Plus a few other things that get lost in the clutter. Visit him online at www.richard-todd.com.