Break Out from the Pack at Book Festivals

Engage, don't accost ...

Engage, don’t accost …

When you wrote your book, you probably never thought about working your booth. No surprise; you were worried about plot, pacing and protagonists. But now the book is done and published. You’ve made the transition from creative writing to creative marketing. Trade shows and book festivals are a great way to introduce your work to readers.

One thing you’ll find at your first fair is that not all booths are created equal. Here are some tips to get you off to a running start:

– Engage, don’t accost. You’re selling intrigue and adventure, not brakes and mufflers. The pitch should match the product.

– Put the book aside and find common ground. Notice their outfit, or if they’re pushing a stroller or wearing a Mets cap. If you form a quick personal link before getting into the story, your visitor might actually bring it up first. And you’ll be thinking, Glad you asked! This is when you summon your quick, engaging synopsis.

– Use your space wisely. Booth work usually happens in tight quarters. If you’re talking to a couple and another person walks up, step around, open the circle, and invite them into the conversation.

– Make friends with your rivals. Odds are you won’t be appealing to the same audience as the guy in the next booth or the gal across the way. So spend a few minutes getting to know the neighbors. Trade ideas. Snap pix. And steer folks interested in other genres to your fellow authors.

– Be smart with posters. You can feature your cover, or you can make a cover poster that includes a blurb about the story. The latter is better, as it gives passers-by a taste if you’re busy with another customer. Along these lines, make sure you hide the boxes and coffee cup, and keep the table neat.

– Go for buzz, not bling. Sure, chocolate kisses will draw plenty of visitors, but most will grab a handful and walk off. Instead, find something to give away that relates to your work, like bookmarks about the book. Speaking of food, keep a mirror handy to make sure nothing you ate wound up sticking to your teeth.

Last, make sure someone who can handle a camera is taking plenty of photos. The shot you’re going for is that special moment when perfect strangers begin looking at you as an author with something worthwhile to say. A good assortment of pix from the show also make a nice Pinterest board.

Any other book show tips to share? Please add them below!

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2 Comments so far »

  1. Ray Zimmerman said,

    Wrote on April 27, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

    Thanks for the tips. I have used some of these successfully in the past, and will try others in the future.


    Steve Piacente Reply:

    Glad you dropped by, Ray. Please check out past blog posts for some more advice from the self-publishing trenches.


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