I had a table at a large book fair last month in Bloomington, Minnesota. There were around sixty vendors, including authors of many genres, publishers, printers, a company who works with authors every step of way in the writing/publishing process. Their byline is “we make books”. Catchy. The fair also offered a number of workshops for writers, and others in the industry, throughout the day.
I was advised to have my book covers enlarged to 3 by 4 feet, to set my display apart from the others. The author who said that had hers hanging as a backdrop behind her table. I had my covers enlarged to 2 by 3 feet and put them in large frames. I set them on the table, but they were a bit large, so I plan to redo them as backdrops for the next fair.
One thing I’ve discovered is a good marketing tool is having a drawing for free books. At the book fair I had forty-nine entrants and two very happy winners. It’s a fairly inexpensive way to advertise. I’m asking the winners to leave a review of the book on Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Goodreads, or wherever they read reviews. They may or may not, but it’s an added bonus if they do. I intend to ask that when I go to book club meetings, but have, so far, forgotten.
The art center that sponsored the fair offered authors the opportunity to do ten minute readings of their books. I decided to go for it and chose my more recent release, Buried in Wolf Lake. I was pretty nervous, of course. They encouraged the readers to look up at the listeners and the television camera. I lost my place once and didn’t want to pause, so paraphrased what the character was saying until I found my place again. My sister was in the audience–said I did fine and laughed when I told her I had to make up a line. They video taped the readings and will cablecast them throughout the coming year. Hopefully, the exposure will translate into book sales.
Interacting with other authors is important. So many have similar stories of the long road to getting published. I wandered around, handed out bookmarks, and chatted briefly with some of the other vendors. I attended a presentation by Twin Cities news personality, journalist, and author Cathy Wurzer. She is very engaging and told humorous and touching stories from her book.
Whether you are a writer or a reader or both, be on the lookout for book fairs in your area. They are fun, educational, and a great way to spend a few hours!
Christine Husom is the Second Wind Publishing author of Murder in Winnebago County and Buried in Wolf Lake.