Kay Whitehouse


Feb 21, 2018Publishing Industry

It was with great fear and trepidation that I approached my first book festival. ?Did I look right? ?Did I bring everything I needed? ?Was my booth attractive? Once I got a book festival under my belt, however, the nerves subsided. ?Here are a few guidelines I have collected, which I also use as my checklist. Use these to make your book festival experience a success, whether it?s your first festival or your fiftieth.

Getting ready: ?Start about 2 weeks before the event. You will want to encourage everyone you know to come and see you, buy a book, post on their social media, and bring a friend. ??Update your social media, local paper, radio and television community bulletin board, and email contacts; post any place and tell everyone you can about the event. ?Include the date, time, location, and booth number. Be sure to mention something special you have planned or are giving away, such as bookmarks, a raffle prize, etc. ?

What you?ll need: ?Make a kit that you keep stocked and ready to go. ?I use a small tackle box that I glued book stickers on so my grandson wouldn?t grab it by mistake for his fishing trip. ?Things in my book festival kit include: safety pins, bungee cords, pens, e-mail sign up sheets, bookmarks, and small takeaway materials for festival-goers. You want them to remember you later, so they have an additional opportunity to order books.

I also carry some larger items such as a tablecloth, props for showcasing the mood of my books, posters, larger giveaways (or swag), a cash box, change, receipt book, credit card reader (also nice to have paper credit card slips in case there is no reception, etc.), a camera and any awards certificates or medals I have won. These provide a tangible display of credibility and set you apart from other authors. ?You?re going to need a ?Dolly!?

When you get there: ?Arrive early so you are ready and looking fully prepared when your potential customers arrive. ?Make your booth as inviting as possible. ?Give it some personality that goes along with your brand. ?One of our FAPA Gold winners writes about a little girl who steps on a bee. ?When you stop by his booth, he has a puppet of the little girl, everything you ever wanted to know about bees, and if you try to walk by without stopping, the puppet invites you to join in conversation. She is so adorable you absolutely have to indulge.

During the event: Stand up, and be friendly. ?You don?t need to jump at everyone like a carnival barker but you can say, ?Hi,? ?Enjoying the festival?? ?Love that color!? ?Have a quick, few-word description of your book: ??It?s fun, educational, told by the hand truck herself!? or ?Murder mystery with some good old fashioned romance involved!? ??Have a little music, sing a song, dance (my favorite!) Genuine enthusiasm sells. ?Most importantly, have fun!

After the event: ?It isn?t over yet! ?Gather up all those leads, your email list, any contact information you collected (including professional organizations you may want to investigate) and guess what? ?Contact them! ??Don?t be pushy here, either…a gentle nudge now and then; announce any news you have such as a new book coming out and especially mention other venues where you will be appearing. Invite them to come see you again!

It?s called marketing and you never get to rest! ?Good luck!

In Publishing? In Florida?

The Florida Authors and Publishers Association is an organization for authors, publishers, independent publishers, illustrators, editors, printers, and other professionals involved in the publishing industry.

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