With the supposed arrival of spring, my busy time starts. I attend a lot of outdoor festivals to sell books. These can be enjoyable events when the weather cooperates. However, this year, spring has been slow in coming. The temperatures have been cool and rain has soaked to ground. Not the optimum conditions for an outdoor festival.
I attended the Gaithersburg Book Festival this past Saturday. It was my first time there so I didn’t have any past experiences to draw upon for how I would do. I had heard that the festival had very good crowds and I could see that they had extensive and well-known roster of speakers. I went with great hopes.
The day before the festival was bright and sunny and I crossed my fingers that weather forecasters would be wrong.
It rained all day during the festival. At least it wasn’t a heavy rain, but it was still rain, which keeps people inside side. On top of that, it was cool all day. I found myself shivering most of the day.
I was disappointed with the turnout, although I expected it when I saw the rain. I did manage to sell a decent number of books. This gives me hope enough to return next year and hope for good weather. If so, I should do a brisk business.
I have found that outdoor festivals are great places to sell books.
- They get a lot of traffic. I attend not only book festivals, but craft festivals and Christmas bazaars, too.
- People like to get an autographed book as a gift for friends and family.
- Since I’m not a household name (like J. K. Rowling and Stephen King), my books tend to stand out as unique to festival visitors.
- I’m independently published so I can offer great sales at festivals, which helps increase my sales. I experimented with different offers over the years and have settled on one that works best for me.
- I always see an uptick in online sales and e-book sales after a festival. I understand the e-books, but I’ve never understood why someone who can get my autographed books at a great price at a festival, pass on that, to go home and buy an unsigned book at a higher price. I’m glad they do, though.
I’m always on the lookout for how to make my booths more attractive to pull in more passersby. Then once I get them to stop, I’ve got to find a way to get them looking at my books and interacting with me.
- I have definitely seen big banners catch people’s attention. They stop walking to read the banners and look at the pictures. That gives me a chance to step outside my booth and speak with them.
- I have expanded the types of books that I offer. For years, I sold only history and historical fiction. I have started offering a historical fantasy novel and I will be offering a young adult novel later this year. This should increase my potential pool of buyers.
- I keep experimenting with counter displays. I am going to offer a larger book display rack that should hopefully attract more attention.
I know authors are always looking to do book signings, and they can be great. For independent authors, you can make more money and sell more books if you make the most of festivals. Don’t let the rain discourage you.