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Writer's Toolbox: Doing Well at Book Fairs

More fall and Christmas book festivals are coming up, so it’s a good time to provide a few tips on how to actually sell a few books at your exhibit.

Selling is an active process. Unless you are a big name author, sitting behind the table in the gloom of a tent, hoping for someone to stop, is not going to get you a sale. Worse is burying your nose in a book behind your table.

Get out in front, chat with passersby, ask them if you can tell them about your book. At the Baltimore Book Festival, I found it easy to begin a conversation by asking a passersby if he or she was an aspiring writer. Amazing how many people are working on a novel. If you’re sharing a booth, be considerate and generous. When a passerby stops, talk about your own books, linger if the passerby shows interest, then move on to the books of the other authors present and introduce them. Ask the visitor what he or she likes to read. Chances are, there’s a book on the table that fits their tastes. Introduce the author and step back. You may not sell your book then, but you wouldn’t, anyway.

When you’re standing in front of your table, keep to the side to leave it accessible to passersby. Don’t block your table as you chat with fellow exhibitors.

Don’t steal an interested visitor away from someone else’s exhibit until that visitor has moved on. At one book festival, another exhibitor physically grabbed a visitor to our booth and pulled him over to her booth. Need I say how rude that was?

Don’t forget that festivals are great places to make connections and find out more about the benefits of other writing organizations and vendors and to meet people who might be able to help you or you might be able to help. Don’t neglect the opportunity to trade books if someone has a book you’d like to read.

Following these suggestions may not make you a bestseller, but they will enhance your book festival experience.

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