Monday, September 23, 2013

Festivals and Fairs. A good place to sell books?


A good place for authors to sell books?

Driving home from the Hayward Fall Festival yesterday, I began dwelling on the profit/ loss aspects of  selling books at this type of event. 
        I set up a tent with two other authors for the one-day festival. Note that our sign should read, "Book Signing," but due the wind, that was the only way we could secure it!
       The Festival drew a huge amount of people, and I sold about 16 books, which is the most I've ever sold at a festival or fair. I counted my money and thought, "Yes, I made a decent profit!" But I couldn't keep my mind from straying to what the drawbacks were despite the profits.
        I've devised a list of considerations for anyone contemplating doing something similar:

1.    You can never predict the weather! We were fortunate to have hit a pretty good weather day, but it's always possible to have your day totally ruined by extreme weather.
2.    The amount of people attending can never be counted on!  These things have less attendance every year. I believe there are just too many of them, as every community wants to get into the act .
3.    It's a lot of work and time spent for the amount of profit made. It takes time to order books, pack everything, buy bookmarks, postcards, and on and on. I left home at seven, which meant getting up at 5:30. The day before was spent preparing. It was about a 75 minute drive each way, so gas is another cost item.
4.    You need to buy a state seller's permit.
5.    You have to pay for a space. Ours cost $90, and we split it three ways.

1.   We all made a profit selling our books.
2.    Many people, although not buying books, took cards.
3.    Some of these will buy eBooks.
4.    In general, events like this provide exposure for the authors.

      5.  It's always fun to get together with fellow authors.

I have an author friend who believes it is more advantageous to sell by yourself. While that may be true, it is a lot easier to sit for the day with company. Or to take a potty break or go to pick up some lunch. Our tent was not a one-person set up, either! An outdoor event is definitely easier with more than one.

Dear readers,
In case you're wondering, in the above photo I'm the one on the right wearing my trademark black fedora, oblivious to the fact that with my sunglasses on, I'm a ringer for one of the Blues Brothers! We had a fun time at the festival, and met many interesting people. 
I hope you all are enjoying the beautiful fall weather we've been having. The air has been cool and crisp here, the leaves just beginning to change.
Till next time, wishing you good health and good times,



  1. Thanks for sharing. Most interesting. What you have to do permitwise varies I think.

    1. Pretty sure it would be the same anywhere in the US. Government wants someone to pay the sales tax! It is unfortunately a lot of work to maintain the permit if you only sell a few books over a one-year period.

  2. I really enjoy doing fairs and festivals, and there are a number of them in about a 50-mile radius from where I live. You are so right about not being able to predict the success in terms of sales, but I always enjoy meeting the people who come to the fairs. I also love interacting with the visual artists who are also at art fairs. We feed each others creative energy.

    1. They are fun when the weather cooperates! Also, I've always done them with other authors so it gives us a chance to visit.
      You're right, it is fun to meet the other vendors, too.
      Have a great week and happy bookselling,

  3. A timely post for me! I'm doing my first book event on October 20. I'm pretty sure I won't make a profit since I am making some one-time purchases plus stocking up on print books in preparation, but hopefully I'll earn a few new local readers. Thank you!

  4. Hi Jill,
    Hope you have great weather and a good crowd! If you're the only author, make sure a few friends stop in for moral support or to give you a potty break!
    Good luck and have fun,

  5. Looks like a lot of work, but I'm sure just having the opportunity to meet new fans made it all worth while. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. Hi Diana,
      Yes, they are a super way to introduce yourself to local readers. Have a sign-in sheet too to get email addresses. Also, some people like getting a signed bookmark or postcard if they are going to purchase an eBook. I always promote my eBooks to people who stop and look at the books. Always gets a few sales the next days.
      Good luck!


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