Selling Books from a Table at an Event
by Ron Kurtus (1 February 2014)
Most independent publishers think of book sales mainly through bookstores or Amazon.com. However, there are other venues that should be pursued. One of these is selling your books from a table or stand, set up at an event or fair.
Besides simply trying to make some money through book sales, you are also letting people know about your book, as well as opening other doors through promoting what you have available.
Questions you may have include:
- Where can you set up a table to sell your books?
- What can you expect when trying to sell your books?
- What should you bring with you?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Places to set up a table
There are numerous outlets for selling your books from a table or other displays.
Book fairs, such as the local Wordstock, allow you to purchase a table to sell your books and publishing services. Because of the cost, publishers often share a table to display their wares.
Other fairs are festivals have areas where vendors can sell their products, for a fee and sometimes for free. Events, such as held by your church or children’s school may allow book sales.
You need to be creative in finding places to set up a table. Fiction writer Linda Kuhlmann said she would set up a table near horse racing tracks to sell her fiction book about horse racing. The closer the audience is to your topic, the better your chances are of getting interest.
Giving talks about your book at organizations, libraries and bookstores gives you the opportunity to make “back-of-the-room sales” after your talk.
What to expect
Many publishers and authors bypass such events, because they don’t think they will sell enough books to make it worthwhile in money and time spent.
What you should realize is that the books sales will usually not cover your expenses. You may be lucky to sell only one or two books. Instead, the idea is not to sell books at the event but to publicize your book and get people interested in it.
This means you need to have a good display and give something for free that people can take with them to remind them about your book how to purchase it. The person may pass on the information to someone else who will buy your book.
The more people that hear about your book and what it is about, the better your chances are for future sales. You need to spread the word.
What to bring
When you set up your table, obviously you should bring more books than you would expect to sell. In fact, you should always have extra books available. Author Cleon Cox says he always keeps a number of books in the trunk of his car just in case he comes across a buyer or two.
You also should have some handouts, such as brochures, postcards, business cards, and bookmarks that briefly tell about your book and give information about where they can buy it and what your web address is. You should also have a display sign that will attract people from ten feet away to your table.
Publicist Joe Bianco suggests having a jar full of candy to draw people to your table. If you have been to a business convention or to Wordstock, you probably have noticed ways vendors get people to visit their table.
Remember to bring change and a receipt book for the people who buy from you.
If you want to sell your books, it is worthwhile to find events where you can set up a table to display and sell your book. Although selling is great, your main goal is to promote your book and get as many people as possible to know about it. Thus, you need handouts with information about the book. Good display material will help attract people to your table or stand.
Be creative in letting people know about your book
Resources and references
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