To Book Fair or Not?

July 25, 2017
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publishing in a whole new world

Whether to attend book fairs is always a quandary for self-published authors. From a marketing standpoint, it depends on what you want to get out of it.
First, do your research on any and all book fairs you’re considering. If your goals are to increase awareness and make more connections — and your promotional budget is generous — go for it!

If you want to sell books and make money (who doesn’t?) — take note: there aren’t many book fairs where you’ll be signing and selling more than a dozen books. And most book fairs have charge a fee for participation. So you may not make money but you may make valuable long-term contacts. Sales don’t always come immediately during a book fair. They often come later. If you’re set on selling books, offer discounted bundles or throw in a gift with purchase like a bookmark and reader’s guide.Here are a few tips to attract contacts, friends, fans, and potential purchasers during the fair:

—Make sure you have a book poster in clear sight at your table and plenty of handouts — author business cards, postcards, bookmarks, printed press releases, Q&A with the Author (you!) handouts, printed copies of a readers’ guide to book, articles/interviews about your book and you. People love to pick up stuff at book fairs and sift through it later.

—Consider collecting business and contact cards for a giveaway — an autographed book is a great giveaway. So is book-related merchandise — but be sure it includes your contact information. Don’t be shy! Even if you don’t want to give away books, ask for and gather contact information via cards.

—Display a sign-up sheet so visitors can keep connected with you via your enewsletters and updates.

—Ask a friend or family member to accompany you for many reasons, practical to promotional:

  • help setting up and later, loading up materials at close of fair
  • assistance reaching out and promoting you and your book(s)— double the connections you make!
  • introductions to people they know who stroll by
  • on-the-spot suggestions/ideas for generating more traffic to your table
  • photos of you for your website, blog post, social media — be sure to utilize your
    participation at the fair on all your social media accounts
  • nourishment and bathroom breaks
  • relief for your networking break so you can stroll around, visit authors, publishers and others at the fair while your companion manages the table

—Have fun! Smile, laugh,and shake plenty of hands. Hand sanitizer, water bottle, and hard candy are recommended, too.

Susan Julien Larimore is the Marketing Maven for Splattered Ink Press. To learn more about marketing consultations with Susan, contact

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