by Austin Camacho
The side of book marketing that I enjoy the most is the face-to-face contact with readers, and bookstores aren’t the only place to have that fun experience. As we move into the warmer weather, small press and even self-published authors will have more chances to display and sell our work at book fairs and other events.
But it’s one thing when you’re the star of a book signing at Borders or the speaker at the Rotary Club breakfast. It is a very different thing when you’re one of many authors greeting the same potential buyers. When you are invited to attend a book fair, please remember that you are there as part of a community of writers, not a crowd of competitors. Also, remember that you are a guest there. For that reason:
1. Be on time - Often traffic flow can make getting set up in a narrow hall or at a street fair challenging if people don’t abide by the organizer’s set up schedule.
2. Respect your hosts - Every little rule established by the show hosts has a reason. Follow the rules and if you have questions ask them respectfully. You are much more likely to get what you need, and you won’t put them in a bad mood that could affect the rest of us.
3. Don’t pitch to authors - Don’t practice your sales technique on me. I’m not there to talk about your book; I’m there to talk about mine.
4. Don’t ask for trades - It is not my intent to leave the book fair with the same number of books I arrived with, and if I say yes to you I’d feel funny saying no to others. Besides, if I wanted your book I’d offer you money like everyone else.
5. Don’t steal buyers - If someone is already talking to me it is rude to start talking to them about your book. Odds are they don’t want to offend anyone and so they’ll leave with neither book.
6. Stay in your zone - Similarly, don’t stand in front of my table or booth. You have a space assigned to you. When people wander into that area, speak to them. Not before. Absolutely not after.
7. Don’t chase people down - If she was interested in your book she wouldn’t have walked away. If you make her angry she’ll think we’re all like that and will be afraid to speak to anyone.
8. Don’t whine - If you don’t think the organizers advertised enough, or if you don’t like the weather, the venue, the patrons or the rules, keep it to yourself. The rest of us are trying to remain cheerful and positive, because that’s what attracts potential book buyers.
9. Focus on your book - No one wants to hear about your heart transplant, unless perhaps your book is about surviving a heart transplant. Likewise no one cares that you’re a war hero - unless you wrote a war book.
10. Share - your ideas, your thoughts, your lemonade and most of all your enthusiasm. Positive mental attitude is contagious and if you help create a cheerful and pleasant atmosphere, we may even recommend your book to the lady who doesn’t like ours.