Monday, May 22, 2017

What I Learned at the Book Festival #MondayBlogs

Recently, I attended a 2-day book festival and overall, it was a good experience. One of my oldest and dearest friends joined me for the festival and we had a great time getting to visit, plus she had written a book set in the area so she brought in business to our table.

The great part was meeting readers who were out shopping for books. I think my best moment was when a reader, who had been at the festival Friday afternoon and bought a copy of my short story anthology, Dixie Darlings, returned Saturday, saying she loved the first story, "The Yard Sale," and she came back to buy more of my books. What better compliment than that can you get as a writer?

That being said, I wanted to comment on a few things I think a writer should take into consideration. This is just my personal opinion, which may differ with others.

Remember you are going to meet and greet readers and writers. Not to make money. You may sell some books but due to the cost of the festival it is unlikely you will make any profit. You will need to weigh out the cost and if the expense is worth it.

Do not share a table. Sharing lowers the cost but the size of the table matters. I thought the tables were going to be larger. They were 6 ft, but very narrow. Check with the person in charge of the festival and ask the size of the table if you are thinking about sharing, especially if you have several books to display. Also ask if you will need a tablecloth. The tables at this festival had tablecloths.

You want enough table space to make a nice display. Something that will be attractive and invite readers to browse. Don't crowd your books. There was one table with at least 5 writers and they had stacks of books on their table, next each other, no room between them. In my opinion, the table was too crowded and that stopped people from browsing.

Along with too many books on a table, there is the poster issue. Some people had posters on their table. I think if you want to use a poster, get an easel and put it up behind the table. If you have a poster on your table, especially a small table, it takes up a lot of room and depending on the poster, it may put people off from stopping at your table. They glance at it and decide they aren't interested. I found when people stopped and I got to talk to them about the books, that's when they bought books. So you need people to stop and look at what you have. Also, it was very windy the second day and a lot of the posters went airborne.

Standing up. Okay, so before this festival, I read a blog post that said you should stand up the entire time and there were some writers who did this. There was a pretty young YA writer opposite my table who stood up the entire time. I'm going to say I don't think that's a good idea unless there are throngs of people, sorta like a carnival and you're trying to get their attention. That was not the case at this festival. At slow times, there might be only a couple of shoppers walking down the aisles and to me, standing up looked too aggressive when there was only a few people milling about. I wonder if those writers didn't get avoided. I know they didn't do any more business than the writers who were sitting down. My friend and I remained kicked back in our chairs, joking with people who walked by. And we did as good if not better book sales than most of the writers there. I think you need to make your own call about standing up the entire time. I think standing would work better if you have a drove of people going by and sitting down other times. It seemed that people felt more at ease with someone sitting down rather than standing up facing them.

I did have a credit card chip reader with me and that was a plus for sales. A lot of people weren't going to buy until I said I could take credit cards. I did have a small Square app sign on the table as well. I would say it is worth to get a chip reader if you plan to do festivals and book sales.

I hope everyone has a good week. I am finally getting caught up. I had to get a new computer and re-load software and all that good stuff. Plus my part-time day job has been busier lately, so I've had to put in more time there as well. But, at last, I'm back working on my WIP and life is good!!!

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