Should You Participate In A Book Fair? Three Points To Consider
Book fairs are allegedly great for networking, meeting readers, and yes, making money. Here are some things to consider before reserving a booth.
- Do I actually want to talk to people?
Nope. Writers generally tend to be an introverted bunch. Look at them sideways and they scamper away like a flock of rabid squirrels. The point of a book fair is to interact with people. Like, face to face. With you looking at them and them looking at you while you make talky-talk. If the person is a reader, they’ll probably ask you about your process or your book. If a writer, they’ll be chatting you up while another writer spikes your drink with laxatives. Because if you’re in the bathroom, more sales for them.
KIDDING. That’s way too interactive for writers. They’ll think about it, though, the passive aggressive little buggers.
Ideally, you’ll be chatting and smiling all day. Even if it’s slow, there’s always one annoying guy hanging around asking inane questions. Talk with him until someone else comes along. Then blow off the other writer and speak to the person who might buy something.
- Is it worth the money?
Maybe. The costs might eat up the profits. If you make $2 per paperback before shipping, you might spend $20 in gas and $35 on a booth, so you’d need to sell 50 books just to cover expenses. But I’m pretty sure that at most book fairs you’d do that, plus you’ll gain some fans, hopefully, and sell more books to them later as they recall the day they first laid eyes on their new favorite author. Then you wake up and the guy from the next table is still flapping his gums.
Also, have your laptop open and ready for shoppers to log in and snap up the eBook version.
(I hosted a virtual book signing once, for an eBook. The fans stayed home, I stayed home. Everybody was happy.)
- Am I okay to stand up all day?
What? Stand up all day? Yeah, princess. This is where the rubber meets the road. You’ll sell more if you do. Your body language will be more welcoming. You can drink away the sore feet later. The other authors will be sitting, not selling. Think about it.
Did I mention smile? That means be approachable and friendly. And more. Be prepared for sweaty people who have yet to discover deodorant. Or mouthwash. Assume nobody has washed their hands, ever. And remember, smile! Think about how they’ll be gone soon. And that the bar is right over there.
So is a book fair right for me?
After reading all this, you can still ask that? Then, no, it isn’t. Which is why you should go. You’ll be the only one there selling books and all the other authors will be jealous with envy. Just, you know, watch your drink around them.