I was recently asked by a fellow author about how to make a book fair experience successful. She asked because she thought that I had done several of them. I then told her that my recent foray into the world of Book fairs was my first time. I am a novice and I had asked for advice on having the best book fair experience as well. After sharing some of the things that I thought she should know she suggested that I write a blog about it. So here it is!
My Book Fair Experiences
My initial experience with a book fair came through volunteering at the Word on The Street Book Fair in Toronto, Canada that was held September 2014. This was my first time attending this festival and I must say as an emerging author it was indeed an eye opener. It was an awesome experience that I would tell anyone to have. I mean all my peoples in one place hehehe! This was also the first time I had seen an author do a reading. Don’t get me wrong I had done a reading for a girls club right after my book launch but I had never seen this before. It was a crash course for me because just 2 months later I would be doing my own reading.
The Inspire Toronto International Book Fair in Toronto, Canada a 4 day event held in November 2014! It was awesome, amazing and exciting all at the same time. I could go on but then we will be here all day 🙂 It was the best and most exhausting experience of my life. For all emerging authors I think it is a worthwhile experience to take part in a book fair. To make it a successful experience here are my top 10 tips!
1. Share the experience with a fellow author
If this is your first time at a book fair, sharing really cuts the cost of trying to pay for an entire table all by yourself especially if you are emerging like me and have very little resources. It is a great way to get book fair experience without paying to high of a price.
2. Be comfortable
Take water and comfortable shoes. I got that advice when I asked the very same question and it’s one that I think needs to be passed on,
There are 2 sides to this coin. There is the time before the show and the materials needed during the show.
a. Use All Media
Be sure to use all of your avenues to share about your presence at the book fair. If you are on: Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, website etc. create banners and use them to herald your presence. Make sure you put in all pertinent information date, time, booth location etc. If you are doing any readings, school visits or interviews before the book fair be sure to mention where and when you will be on that date.
For instance, I had a banner, bookmarks, postcards, enter to win forms, some giveaways with information about my country, stickers and coloring pages. These all help to get your name out there and people will be able to find you. Don’t forget your Books of course, they are your biggest tool hehehe! Once the ideas start to roll they keep rolling remember not to over produce and keep things to a minimum. There will always be other book fairs.
4. Mix and Mingle!
There will be lulls and that’s a good time to get out from behind the table and talk to your fellow exhibitors. They have great information to share and I found most of them are willing. They too need someone who knows the ups and downs of the business to share with as well. It is comforting to meet like minded people. Another reason is to talk to people who are browsing and this can drive traffic to your table, this is the bonus of mixing and mingling.
5. Manage your Expectations.
This I think is the number one thing I would tell all authors. Know before hand what you want out of the experience. What you expect to gain. Sometimes when you set our expectations high it can be a let down when it doesn’t produce what you thought. So I think it is a good thing to define that before you make the first step. I met an amazing bunch of people at the book fair. Fellow authors from different genres, editors, publishers and others. I got some insight into how people marketed their items. I would say it was a great experience for those things. In terms of book sales not so much but still very much worth it. Hey I met my editor there! She is great!
6. Be Present
During high traffic periods be present to share about your book. Be engaging and fun after all you are talking about your book, dream or vision. Share it with enthusiasm. Remember even though you are sharing your table, the other person cannot sell your book, dream, or vision like you can and always be willing to listen to others when they share with you. Be open and willing always! 🙂
7. Responding to Criticism
Well this one is a hard knock because really, who likes to be criticized? It kind of knocked me off kilter for about an afternoon and my fellow authors and new editor helped to calm me down. My best advice is to say thank you for the feedback and walk away. This is just one persons opinion so take what applies to you (if anything) and throw the rest away! Just be gracious!
8. Remember your Book Fair Team
Your book fair team is always there to help you with any questions. If you have a team as great as the folks at the Toronto International Book Fair you have no need to worry. They were very diligent at sending out information and making sure you had what you needed on the day of the fair.
9. Ask Questions.
Be sure to get all the information leading up to the fair. Make sure you ask questions and no question is stupid or inconsequential. You have to be clear on the directions and the information they are sending to you, so always ask for clarity.
10. Do the reading!
When I was asked if I wanted to do a reading or presentation I thought hmmm, I don’t think so, because that would be taking me out of my comfort zone. I eventually decided to do it and submitted the forms. Doing a book reading at a book fair was a phenomenal experience for me, leading up to it not so good:-(
In preparation for the reading I had a thought …how are the children going to see the pictures in the book if I am standing on a podium? So what I did was prepare 5 pictures from the book (on poster board) so kids and adults would get a glimpse of the amazing characters in the book. I even had someone hold them up for me. She was my “Vanna White” :-). Do what you can to make the reading exciting, fun and interesting especially for kids!
Another thing to consider doing is have someone record the reading for you so you can do a critique of it. It is also a great marketing tools as well. You can use portions of it for a book trailer etc.
My apologies for the lengthy post but wanted to give you my top 10 tips. I know there are more but that would take forever! I hope these are helpful to you who are stepping out for the first time. These tips can be applied to every industry I think. If you have some to add to this list please feel free to leave your comments on the page. After all we are here to help each other.
REMEMBER TO BREATHE and ENJOY!