Bookselling is Personal

April 18th, 2014

You may have heard the term “Special Sales.” Do you know what this means? It represents sales outside of the traditional bookstores. Although this seems to be a new term, it certainly isn’t a new concept. Authors have been generating sales through specialty stores, presentations, book festivals, online marketing, article-writing and so forth for years and years. In fact anyone who has been promoting a book for more than a few months is aware that he or she must reach outside their old, familiar haunts in order to sell copies of their books.

Bookselling has become personal. It used to be that the author was some mysterious figure in the background of any book. To readers, an author was a name—nothing more—no face, particularly no presence or personality. That was when you’d walk into a bookstore to purchase a book—there were no Internet sales; no bookracks in delis, veterinarians’ offices, local airports, sporting goods stores, bakeries, etc. and few author presentations.

Now, readers know what their favorite author eats for breakfast, how many children they have, the names of their pets and the brand of hair coloring they use. Readers have the opportunity to meet authors at book festivals, at their club meetings, at church, at conferences and other events. Authors are more visible. We must be if we want to sell books.

As an author, we need a strong online presence, as well. Readers who want to know more about us will conduct Internet searches and we’d better be easy to locate. In other words, we must have a website; we should manage one or more active blogs; be involved in social media and solicit interviews, guests posts, reviews and so forth.

Go where your audience is. Give them what they want. Provide them with the information or entertainment they require or desire. It is all up to you. It is between you and your reader. Keep this in mind and you will succeed.

For additional help promoting your book, read Promote Your Book by Patricia Fry. It’s available here: and at Amazon in print, audio and for Kindle.

Navigating Changes in the Publishing Industry

April 17th, 2014

There’s a lot of talk (and complaining) about changes in the publishing industry. The changes have been taking place since around 1996, but they seem to be accelerating. I reported strong evidence of the shifting publishing sands in yesterday’s blog post. I just proofed the May issue of SPAWNews and read articles reflecting the shifting tides that other professionals have observed. So what does this mean for authors?

It means that we must put a lot of thought into the books we write before writing them. We must write well, identify our audience early on and write for those readers. We must be fully prepared to promote our books effectively in order to reach that particular audience. So what has changed from the author’s standpoint? Nothing.

As authors, we’re still required to do our best work, know our readers and what they want/need and understand the publishing industry so we approach the task of book promotion in the most effective, sensible and successful way.

We should be open-minded, flexible and willing to take on the responsibility we signed up for. You don’t believe you signed up for anything? Oh yes you did. As soon as you took it upon yourself to enter into the hugely competitive publishing industry and write a book, you accepted responsibility. Whether you live up to it, is up to you. Your decisions will determine whether you succeed or fail.

My message to you today is, yes, the publishing industry is changing in many ways and yes there is still room to succeed. But you must be informed and well-prepared. Start by studying the publishing industry. As a first step, I recommend reading “Publish Your Book,” by Patricia Fry (that’s me). It’s at in print, audio and Kindle. Or order it from the author:

Think about it, you wouldn’t enter into any other kind of business without knowing something about the industry, your product, your customers/clients, suppliers, competition and so forth. Publishing is a business—a highly complex business and you really ought to consider yourself the CEO of your book from start to finish.

For a heavier dose of writing and publishing reality, subscribe to my bi-monthly enewsletter: Check out the archives here:


What’s to Become of the Book Festival?

April 16th, 2014

The giant Los Angeles Times Festival of Books (LATFB) is over. Typically, we would still be planning for the event, but it came earlier than usual this year. I guess the timing of Easter had something to do with that.

SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) had a presence at the LATFB as we have most of the last 18 years. But this year it was a little different than usual. Our booth still received a lot of visitors—we handed out over 300 SPAWN Catalogs of Members’ Books and 200 people signed up to receive the SPAWN newsletter. But it was not a buying public this year.

Typically, I sell around 30 or 40 of my books for authors—“Publish Your Book” and “Promote Your Book.” I sold only 3. I didn’t see many people lugging books around in tote bags or in backpacks. Those who talked about the books they carried said they were free books they picked up here and there. (Several asked if the books we displayed were free.)

My books and our members’ books received a great deal of attention. But we made few sales. Most visitors asked if the books were online. Then, before walking away, they’d ask for a card, bookmark or brochure.

I had stacks of my first two Klepto Cat Mystery books in the booth. It was fun watching so many people stop and smile at the cute covers, pick up the books and look them over, etc. Most then asked, “Are they at Amazon?” I explained, “Yes, in print and on Kindle.” Two young women pulled out their iPhones and ordered the Kindle version of one of the books on the spot. And when I returned home, I discovered that sales for the Kindle books and the print books produced through CreateSpace had increased. I hope this was true for our SPAWN members, as well.

The times, they continue to change—especially within the publishing industry. Does this mean book festivals will become obsolete? Maybe as we know them. Perhaps we’ll do online book festivals in the future.

That would be sad. There would be no face-to-face contact, handshaking, fresh air and exercise. You would miss the sights and sounds of these festive events and talking to people in person.

I can envision physical book festivals in miniature—smaller booths with computers showing intriguing and entertaining book trailers, a sample book or two on display and handouts with quick codes one could click to place an order on the spot. There would be no more expansive tables covered in colorful clothes, schlepping boxes and boxes of books from the car to the event, creating massive displays, charging credit cards and making change. However, there would still be that face-to-face connection with people and a lively exchange of ideas and information in the fresh air.

Do any of you have more advanced visions of the very likely evolution of the book festival?

If you are a hopeful or struggling author, please consider purchasing my book, “Publish Your Book.” I wrote it for the many people I’ve met at book festivals and writers conferences who have either failed as a published author or are headed in that direction. (Be sure to use the caps as shown.)

See You at the LA Times Festival of Books

April 11th, 2014

I’m headed out to the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books this weekend. SPAWN has secured two booths where some of our members will display and sell their books to some of the 100,000 or so visitors. If you make it to the book festival at USC Saturday or Sunday, be sure to stop by. We have information about SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network), free materials for authors, professionals on hand to talk to about your book project and books for authors.

We also have some interesting books for readers—cozy mysteries; a book on building a more powerful and profitable business network; one on pet first aid; a couple of fascinating, fast-paced novels and even a cookbook.

Step up to the booth (number 201) and we’ll hand you a catalog of over 30 books in a variety of categories—something for every reader of all ages.

Hope to see you there!

Patricia Fry Guest at The Writing Nut AND My Writing Blog

April 9th, 2014

Today I’m featured at the Writing Nut website. It’s kind of a fun premise–they want pix of your workspace and ask you some interesting questions. If you’re a writer, you might want to get the exposure by being one of their Wednesday guests. Check my interview out and meet Lily kitty here:

I’m also featured here today:



A Rant Against Unprofessional Author Slackers

April 7th, 2014

A blog can be many things—a place to share, a teaching tool, a resource center, and more. Sometimes we use our blogs to vent—to rant and complain. Today, I’d like to vent a little while also providing some gentle advice. (Although some of you may view this as a slap in the face.)

You’ve heard (read) me and others say over and over again that when you decide to enter into the world of publishing, in order to be successful, you must do so from a professional perspective. While writing is a craft, publishing is a seriously competitive business. Once you  become published and begin the rely on, work with and otherwise communicate with publishers, agents, publicists, organization leaders and so forth, you should do so with as much professionalism as you can muster.

What does this mean? Actually, many things. Here’s my short list:

  • Check and double/triple check every email, blog post, article, written interview, inquiry, query letter, request, book proposal, etc. before sending it. There is nothing that reveals a lack of professionalism as clearly as carelessness in what you write.
  • Take responsibility! By this I mean when you agree to participate in an interview or another activity designed to promote your book, for example, keep good records and follow through as promised and within the deadline. Don’t whine, become needy and make excuses for your repeated shortcomings and mistakes.
  • Carefully manage your business and if you can’t handle it, hire someone who can keep track of the dates and requirements for your commitments, manage your emails so you can reference them when needed, and so forth.

Sure you’re busy. We all are. And certainly, things happen—you lose or misplace an email or note. You forget a deadline. You are confused about instructions and need assistance. But it is oh-so unprofessional when you keep sloppy records, get lazy and refuse to search for the information you’ve been sent and then ask the interviewer or organizer to backtrack and reiterate pertinent information or instructions.

A real pet peeve of mine is the individual who emails me with a question and then neglects to even check their email for days or even weeks. A few weeks later, he or she contacts me again asking for the same information. This is a good way to disrespect someone who is trying to assist you. Don’t you know that sometimes they have spent a good deal of their time to accommodate you? And you don’t have the courtesy to take responsibility on your end? Unprofessional, indeed.

Sure, I’m aware that everyone is writing books these days. A published book makes you an author even when you pay someone to produce your book and no matter whether you’re the CEO of a large company, homemaker, retired factory worker or telemarketer. Obviously, authorship does not a professional make. But every author should consider him or herself the CEO of their book and come out of the publishing gate with a professional persona.

Again let me say: publishing is a business. Most of the people you’ll be dealing with once you are a published author are professional people in their fields or positions, whether they are

publishers/agents, organization leaders or in businesses that support publishing and book promotion. I have to say that most of the people I meet and work with are wonderfully responsible and reliable, but those needy ones can sure be energy-draining. Just look at how much time these people took from me this morning by eliciting this rant.

Okay, the next blog post should cover how to shield yourself from the negativity from unprofessional, unreliable, irresponsible authors. I may or may not write it. Stay tuned. And leave your comments, if you dare.



Contributing to Your Success as an Author

April 6th, 2014

The April issue of my e-newsletter, Publishing/Marketing News and Views is out. If you’re on my e-mailing list, you received it last week. Be sure to read it. If you’re not on my e-mailing list, you can still read this issue and all previous issues here:

Sign up here to receive all subsequent issues starting in June.

In the April issue you’ll learn, among other things, how personality sells books and how to work a book festival so it works for you. If you have a book to promote, these are two important concepts. In fact, two professionals contacted me after receiving the newsletter—one asked if she could use the article on how personality sells books in a speech she’s giving to writers this weekend and another asked for permission to publish two of my articles in her newsletter. Another professional tweeted about the value of this newsletter.

If you want to be on my mailing list to receive Publishing/Marketing News and Views, sign up here:

You can also download a FREE report while there. “50 Ways to Establish Your Author’s Platform.” And if you don’t think your author’s platform is important in marketing a book to publishers and selling your book to readers, you are sadly mistaken.

I’m planning a new “50 Ways” Freebie. So far I have also offered you “50 Reasons Why You Should Write That Book” and “50 Ways to Promote Your eBook.” Is there a topic you would like me to cover in my upcoming FREE report? I’m considering “50 Ways to Promote Your Novel.” Anyone interested in that topic? Let me know by leaving a comment here or email me

How to Use Spinoffs to Promote Your Fabulous Book

April 5th, 2014

If you’re struggling to sell copies of your book, here’s an idea: Add another product to your repertoire. Produce a spinoff book, for example. If you truly have an audience for your book, and you’re just having difficulty getting the word out and generating sales, a second or third book might help you gain more of that all important recognition.

If you’re a new author without a following, it may take some creativity and time to become known in your field or genre. Certainly, you have your own website—a place where you can invite potential customers. You should also have a presence throughout the social media realm. In order to attract people to your website, offer a freebie—a downloadable ebooklet on the topic of your book. And aggressively advertise this fact.

Let’s say your book chronicles some of your travels throughout remote areas of the US and you’ve added reviews of unique restaurants and cafes. As a spinoff book or free ebooklet, you might offer recipes from these regions, unbelievable customs or a collage of scenic photographs that didn’t make it into the book.

Maybe you’ve written a young adult novel focusing on mysteriously missing dogs. You might create a spinoff book focusing on 50 ways to entertain a dog or 50 tricks you can teach your dog, for example.

Now you have two things to offer and each will help to promote the other. A few years ago, I compiled a book of cat stories—“Catscapades, True Cat Tales.” The book sold at a mediocre pace. Last year, I produced a novel involving cats. I now have four books in my Klepto Cat Mystery series. Since producing the novels, I’ve noticed an increase in sales for “Catscapades.”

I also have several books for authors—most predominantly, “Publish Your Book,” “Promote Your Book” and “Talk Up Your Book.” Not only do these books help to sell one another—people who buy and appreciate one book will be more apt to purchase another. But I also offer a free ebook at my website, Currently, it is “50 Ways to Establish Your Author Platform.”

If sales for your single book are lagging because you aren’t well-known in your field or genre, consider upping the ante. Of course, you’re going to show up where your audience congregates online as well as downtown. You’re already reaching out to readers in every way you know how. So why not add to your box of promotional magic by offering something more and use each of those items to promote the other.

A Writer’s Inspiration

April 4th, 2014

When people find out what a prolific writer I am, they often ask, “How do you think of something to write every day in your blog?” or “How do you come up with all those story ideas?” I used to write articles for magazines and got the same questions: “Where do you get all of those article ideas?”

Well, here’s the deal: I’ve found that if I think about my blog, for example, and try to plan a post out, I generally draw a blank. But if I sit down at my computer, fingers on the keyboard, most of the time a topic occurs to me fairly quickly. If not, I just start writing. Usually, a spark of an idea will evolve from my scattered thoughts.

Here’s another idea—when you get an inkling of an idea, write it down for future reference. Often, throughout my work day, a term or a concept will occur to me and I’ll make a note. This often becomes my next article topic or blog post.

I’ve found little gems of ideas in emails I’ve received, advertisements for books or services, comments left at the discussion groups I belong to, books and articles I read and questions people ask me about writing or publishing. I also visit other people’s blogs, social media pages and so forth.

If all else fails, I’ll go out and take a walk. Walking in the fresh air is meditative for me and ideas flow easily when the mind is quiet.

Do you have tricks and rituals you use to generate ideas for your blog, articles or the books you’re writing?

I can tell you that having an inquisitive mind is vital to a writer. But I also believe it’s important to reach outside of ourselves—go out and observe others, listen to their concerns, hopes, worries, fears, complaints and joys. Watch how they move, respond, handle life’s bumps and sweet moments. Your writing will be richer for it.

Publishing/Marketing News and Views — April 2014

April 2nd, 2014

Publishing/Marketing News and Views

Bringing you the information and resources you need to succeed.

April 2014, Volume 1, Issue 5


Editor: Patricia Fry


Spring typically brings with it new beginnings. And this can mean change. Ick, yuk, arghhh, ewww. No one likes change. We prefer living within our comfort zones, wherever that might be. But if you have a published book or you’re writing a book for publication, and if you’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process, you may be in for a shock. You’re about to be faced with challenges you didn’t expect.

That’s one reason why I’ve decided to produce this newsletter. I want to help diminish the ick/yuk factor, make sure you know what to expect after publication and prepare you for the challenges ahead.

So what is ahead for you? What are the changes you will be facing? It’s what comes after publishing. It’s called promotion. In issue 4 of this newsletter, we covered the basic concept of book promotion. I talked about your author platform and how to establish one. As promised, in subsequent issues of Publishing/Marketing News and Views, I’ll cover all manner of promotion. This month, we’ll talk about using your personality to promote your book.

I’m headed to the huge Los Angeles Times Festival of Books in a few days. I’ll be womaning the SPAWN booth while also selling my own books at USC in Los Angeles April 12 and 13. If you’re in the area, please stop by and introduce yourself. (Some of you receiving this newsletter, I met at the LATFB over the years.)

Having a booth at a book festival is a great way to promote your book. Not only will you sell copies, you will have the opportunity to talk about your book and distribute handouts—in other words, get exposure for your book. You’ll meet people who can provide additional opportunities for you by way of book signings, speaking engagements, library sales, school presentations, radio/TV appearances and more.

From the information in this newsletter, I expect you to learn the extreme value of exposure, the importance of the personal touch and a few tips for being the best ambassador on behalf of your book.


Included in this issue:

  • Announcement!! Two new additions to the Klepto Cat Mystery series and an update on Patricia Fry’s blog tour
  • Personality Sells Books—How to Use Yours
  • Book Festivals—Take Your Book to a Show
  • Special Report—How to Work a Book Festival so it Works for You
  • Recommended Book—Talk Up Your Book
  • Resource of the Month—CreateSpace
  • Publishing/Marketing News and Views Archives
  • Patricia Fry’s Bio Roundup
  • Previews of Coming Attractions


Cat-Eye Witness, the second in the Klepto Cat Mystery series has joined Catnapped in print form. You can order either of these books for your Kindle at $2.99 and in print ($8.95). Also NEW for your Kindle, Undercover Cat. This is the fourth in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. All four of the books, both Kindle and print, are listed here.

In the last issue, I announced that I was going on a blog tour. And what a kick it was. In a future issue, I’ll outline exactly how to set up your own blog tour. Just let me say that mine was a success. I visited five blog sites in five days, each offering a different kind of promotion for the Klepto Cat Mystery series, in particular the newest book at the time, Sleight of Paw. Did this effort result in increased book sales? Indeed, it did. Sales for my books doubled during the week of my blog tour. For more about my blog tour and how to organize and manage your own tour, read my blog post for February 15, 2014

Personality Sells Books

Yes, I’m going to say it again—personality sells books. If you doubt it, begin a campaign to engage more people in conversation about your book and see what happens. Talk to people at a bus stop about your book, show your book to folks who are waiting in line at the grocery store, bring it up at business meetings and social events where appropriate, share it with members of the congregation after church service. Your potential readers who meet you in person are more apt to buy your book either now or in the future than those who have had no contact with you whatsoever.

I read the results of a survey recently where authors and publishers were asked, “What’s the best form of promotion?” The largest percentage of people responded that they sell more books through personal contact. The thing is, readers want a relationship with their authors. People buy certain books based on the author’s credibility and they are somewhat loyal to those authors they know something about, whether it is through your facebook page, your blog or a radio interview. If they meet you in person, all the better. In fact, some readers get a thrill out of purchasing a book that the author has autographed right in front of them.

There are many ways to become known—through an active blog that reflects your personality and expertise, for example, through social media, through a website and podcasts that express your personality, and so forth. Even your articles and stories in appropriate publications carry weight with your readers and often help to sway them to purchase your book.

The most successful mode of promotion, however, is through personal appearances where your particular audience gathers. An author who decides not to pursue the personal approach when promoting his or her book, is an author who probably won’t sell many books.

Here’s a 10-ingredient recipe for selling more books through your personality:

1: Hone your public speaking and communication skills by joining a Toastmasters club and participating for several months. Or take a speech class at a local college. If your book is fiction, poetry or a children’s book, consider getting involved in a storytelling group, and learn how to entertain through storytelling techniques. This will also do wonders for your fear of public speaking and your confidence level.

2: Practice, practice, practice. If you don’t feel ready to address your audience, yet, ask friends to gather and allow you to present your material. Give presentations in the security of your Toastmasters club. Take on jobs and volunteer for committees that require speaking in front of groups. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about your book or speaking on another topic at first. The point is to become more comfortable and confident in front of an audience.

3: Locate speaking opportunities in your community and beyond. Start close to home and then branch out to other cities and states, if feasible. The easiest types of speaking opportunities to get are generally those for civic organization meetings (Kiwanis, Rotary, Optimist, etc.). Program directors are always on the lookout for interesting speakers for their weekly meetings. Design an entertaining or informative program around the theme of your book.

4: Create speaking opportunities. Approach organizations, schools and/or corporations related to the theme of your book and ask to be placed on their program agenda. Or help them to design a program for their members, students, attendees.

5: Book signings are not passé. It’s true, the average author doesn’t generally attract many people to bookstore signings. However, you might generate quite an audience when doing a book signing at a busy coffee house, pet store, hobby shop, cupcake bakery, sporting goods store or children’s store, for example, depending on the theme/genre of your books and the effectiveness of your publicity. (Do not disregard these last four words. Publicity is of major importance to a successful signing event.)

6: Develop workshops related to the theme of your book. A great way to address your audience is through classes, courses and workshops. If your book is conducive to this sort of presentation, consider engaging in it as a way to meet your readers face-to-face and getting to know them. Not only will they learn from you and buy your book, you will have the opportunity to learn volumes from them. Feedback from your readers is priceless. Use what you learn from them in your presentations, blog, articles and future books on the topic.

7: Take your book to book festivals. A book festival is a great place to meet authors who may have never heard of you or your book. Be prepared to talk about the benefits or reader value of your book to numbers of people. Have attractive handouts and give them away generously. Also have a signup sheet so you can collect email addresses for those people who are interested in the topic or genre of your book. A follow-up email is a great way to keep potential customers from forgetting you. (Read more about how to work a book festival in this issue.)

8: Apply to speak at conferences related to the theme or genre of your book. For the most part, you must seek out opportunities. Especially at first, program directors or conference organizers do not come looking for you—until you have proven yourself over and over again. Conducting a workshop or giving a presentation or keynote speech at a conference attended by your readers can give your book a huge boost.

9: Be creative. Have a booth at a wine festival, the county fair, flea market, youth sporting events, etc. Set up a table outside the parameters of a Sunday farmers market. I know an author who did this. He gave away his humor book FREE to those who purchased a glass of lemonade for $10.

10: Speak while traveling. Before you take off, research opportunities in the cities you will be visiting and arrange for presentations, signings, radio/TV interviews and so forth.

Of course, publicity for any of these activities must be well-planned, widely distributed and on-the-mark. Not only will this help to attract more people to the event, the publicity will serve to put your name and the title of your book out there in front of more people. You might get 15 or 115 to show up, but your message might reach an additional 500, 1,000 or more potential customers.

Continue to promote the activity afterward by posting pictures from the event, a report about the success of the event, etc., at your blog or on your facebook page.

There are many ways to entice potential readers to buy your book. But the common denominator for achieving the most success seems to rely on your personality. First, produce a good book that has a solid audience. And then go out and meet your readers using these and other ideas.

Take Your Book to a Show

Book festival season is upon us. Most book festivals are held in the spring and fall, which makes sense. That’s when the weather is most stable and pleasant.

Have you ever sat behind a display of your very own books at a book festival, greeting visitors in hopes that they will make a purchase? How many times have you walked away after a book festival despondent because you are toting home most of the books you came with? How many of you have vowed never to pay for space at a book festival again?

It doesn’t have to end this way.

Book festivals present great opportunities for authors. But you have to do your part. If you’ve experienced disappointment at book festivals, I suggest that you change your approach and your outlook.

What is your main objective when you reserve space at a book festival? Most authors say, “To sell enough books to make it worth my while.” They want to break even financially and then some. And that pretty much sums it up.

Exposure—a Highly Valuable Benefit

Have you ever considered the side benefits to participating in a book festival? There’s exposure, of course. If you stay in the game and continue promoting your book to your audience, exposure can lead to sales. Exposure is more valuable than many authors know. There are people who purchase books on the spot. But there are many others who don’t buy a book they actually want until they’ve seen it, heard about it and/or read about it numbers of times. So a wise author makes sure his or her book is getting the exposure that can lead to even eventual sales.

Exposure can garner other advantages, as well—some that the author may not consider as such even in the face of the opportunity. Let’s say that your book features unusual gifts you can make for under $25. You might meet a stringer for a home and garden, country or craft magazine who would love to interview you for an article. A librarian might want to include your children’s book in their summer reading program. A small business owner might see your book on office organization and hire you as a consultant. Likewise, an organization or corporate leader might take your card and call you several weeks or months after the event to order two boxes of your business management book for employees.

Exposure is not typically a one-shot opportunity. Very often, there are ongoing and far-reaching effects resulting from exposure.

Authors often say to me, “I did a book festival once. Didn’t sell many books, so I won’t be doing that again.”

I will sometimes ask the author, “Did you meet anyone interesting at the book festival?”

She might say, “Not really.”

I’ll say, “I almost always meet someone who offers me an opportunity of some sort.”

The author might then reply, “Oh yes—there was this guy who came by my booth. He gave me his card—what did I do with that? He said that he was in charge of buying goodie-bag gifts for conventions and he wanted me to give him a bulk discount price. I guess I forgot to contact him.”

Hellllooooo! That’s called an opportunity.

Some authors recognize the opportunities that occur at book festivals and still don’t consider book festivals worth attending. I know one author who met the producer of a syndicated radio show who wanted to put him on the air with his book. And another met a man who later filmed a documentary around the theme of his book. That documentary still airs on the military channel.

What Can You Expect?

New authors ask me what to expect at a book festival. I have attended over fifty book festivals throughout the US over the years—large ones like the upcoming Los Angeles Times Festival of Books and the Tucson Festival of Books, as well as small ones. And each of them seems to have a personality of its own. The thing is, you just don’t know what to expect at a book festival—even the same book festival year-after-year. You might sell numbers of books and meet up with many opportunities or you may sit alone for most of the day and sell nothing.

I’ve seen authors turn what could have been “nothing” days into good days. How?

  • The author engages people as they walk past their booth. If she has a children’s book, she might say, “Do you know a child who likes to read?” She may also ask parents with children, “May I read a short story to your child?” Try this and you will sell copies of your charming children’s book.
  • When someone seems interested in his book, the author talks to the visitor about benefits not features. (What can the book do for the potential reader?)
  • The author knows how to listen. Sometimes the visitor just wants to tell his story or rant about his experiences related to the theme of your book. If your book addresses some of the issues he brings up, let him know this and he may become a customers.
  • If there is nothing happening—it’s a really slow day—the author might walk around the event with his book and show it to other book festival participants. I often sell copies of my publishing/book-promotion-related books to other authors at book festivals. And I buy books, as well.
  • Authors who maintain a good attitude even when things seem slow will sell more books than those who appear disgruntled.

This spring why don’t you seek out a book festival near you or where you will be traveling and plan to take full advantage of the exposure and opportunities in the experience.

To locate book festivals, do an Internet search using key words: “book festival” and your city/state.

How To Work A Book Festival So It Works For You

If you have a book to promote, sooner or later you’ll probably participate in a book festival. There are hundreds of book and author festivals held throughout the U.S. each year where you can rent a booth and sell books. Writing/publishing organizations often purchase booths at book festivals and rent space to their members at a savings.

Authors can also secure booths at trade fairs, flea markets and art and craft fairs. I had a booth at our county fair one year and sold nearly 200 copies of my brand new local history book.

How Many Books Can You Sell at a Book Festival?

We’d all like a guarantee, before getting involved in a book festival. The truth is that you could walk away $1000 richer or it might cost you money to participate. Your success depends on several factors. While no one can second-guess the public’s book-buying habits, there are steps you can take to ensure greater success. For example, it’s important that you choose the right venue.

If I’m doing a book festival or craft fair close to home, I always bring my local history books. If I’m out of town, these books won’t be of much interest to festival goers. When I’m participating in the SPAWN booth (that’s Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network), I bring my writing/publishing-related books. Many of the folks coming to this booth are authors.

I generally sell anywhere from 6 to 50 copies of my books at a book festival. One time, however, I sold nothing. And it was because I chose the wrong venue. I joined a fellow author in his booth at a large book festival in Los Angeles. I had a metaphysical adventure story and books on writing. A large banner above the booth advertised that we were selling mysteries and children’s books and this is what people came to our booth to purchase.

A booth displaying a large variety of books attracts a lot of attention. If your book has a dull, uninteresting cover, however, chances are, it won’t get noticed. At book festivals, I notice that people are drawn first to books with colorful, eye-catching, appealing covers. Next, they seem to gravitate toward a book on a subject of their interest: horses, writing, history, poetry, children’s books or a period novel, for example.

Focus On Exposure Not Sales

Of course, you hope for sales when you participate in a book festival. But what if you don’t sell as many books as you expected? Sure, it’s disappointing, but this doesn’t mean that the festival was a failure.

Number of sales isn’t the only way to measure success. As I mentioned above, exposure has value, too. And a book festival is a good way to get exposure for your book—to make people aware of it. Anytime you display your book or talk about it, you’re getting exposure. There are those sales you make on the spot—spontaneous sales. And there are those that come only after exposure. The point is to view each person you talk to as a potential customer. If he doesn’t buy your book now, there’s every possibility that he will in the future.

It’s important that you hold to this belief. It will help you maintain a good attitude and a good attitude will go a long way toward making friends and making sales.

Create Great Promotional Material

Whether you’re sending your book to an out of town book festival for display or selling your books from your own booth, you’ll need something to hand out. And your handout should be every bit as professional and appealing as your book is.

I’ve seen a lot of promotional material. While some pieces seem like an afterthought, others are so appealing that I can’t bring myself to discard them. A good promotional piece should reflect the tone and appearance of your book. What is the function of a promotional piece? It’s a reminder, it’s a sales pitch and it provides necessary information.

What comprises a good promotional piece? I prefer a color copy of the book cover on one side of light to medium-weight cardstock. Put a brief description of the book, your qualifications (if pertinent) and ordering information on the other side. I also recommend designing your promotional material in postcard or bookmark size. Anything larger is difficult to display. The smaller size is better for mailing, more functional and easier for potential customers to handle.

Tip: Ask everyone who visits your booth for their contact information. Have them sign up for a contest or drawing and give away a book at the end of the event, for example. Put these names on your mailing list and send out periodical promotional packages.

Here’s What to Bring to a Book Festival

When You’re Sharing a Booth

Find out from the organizer how much space you’ll have and what you can and cannot bring. If you have one title, you may want to bring a display stand, a small standing poster showing off your book cover, 30 books (or so), promo material (handouts) and maybe even some candy or stickers to give away. The SPAWN booth often offers visitors heart-shaped stickers that say, “I love books.” I’ve also seen authors give away advertising pencils.

Bring change in appropriate denominations. I generally round off the prices of my books for festivals. Rather than charging $15.95 plus tax, I’ll ask $15 or $16 and I’ll pay the tax. Sometimes for my $6.50 book, I’ll ask $7, letting the customer pay the tax. If you have a merchant account, come prepared to take credit cards. Look into getting a card reader for taking credit cards. The device is free. You pay a percentage of the sale to the company.

While virtually all book festivals have food and drinks for sale, you might want to bring your own water and lunch. Also bring sunscreen, a hat and a sweater. Pack an extra folding chair. Organizers typically provide two chairs per booth.

Invest in a luggage carrier with wheels to transport boxes of books. I bought mine at a garage sale. Or use a piece of luggage with wheels.

When It’s Your Booth.

Booths can cost anywhere from $75 to $900, depending on the scope of the event. If you want a booth but have only one or two titles to sell, you might consider inviting others to participate with you. By sharing the cost of the booth, you stand a better chance of profiting. Additionally, people are drawn to booths that are interesting and inviting. A larger display of books will attract more people than just one or two titles will.

Choose your booth partners carefully. Avoid authors with books that compete with yours. But consider those with books of the same nature. A book for preschoolers and one for teens might be a good combination. A book of poetry and a book for young writers may complement one another. A book featuring extreme sports and an action novel might be a good match.

Consider sharing your booth with someone who has a product rather than a book. If yours is a children’s book, partner with a local toyshop owner or someone who makes wooden toys from home.

Book festival organizers generally provide a table, a covering for the table and a sign or banner. Make sure that your booth is appropriately categorized. You might want the title of your book on the sign instead of your publishing company name, for example. At some book fairs, the booth signs are tacked to the front of the tables. People can’t see your sign when others are standing in front of your booth. I suggest making a large banner that you can post behind you in case you need the extra signage.

A small sign that says “autographed copies” will impress and draw some shoppers.

We find that a small folding table placed at the back of our booth comes in handy at book festivals. Purchase these at Office Depot. Bring a large tablecloth that will hide boxes of books and other stuff that’s stored under the table.

Also bring extra pens (at least 5 of mine walk away during every event), felt markers, tape, bookstands, scissors, paperweights (we use painted rocks or clay animal shapes) and advertising posters. Don’t forget your promotional pieces and business cards.

Display With Pizzazz

Presentation is everything. If you have a sweet little book of poems, for example, wrap some of them in pretty paper and tie them with ribbon. This can make a most appealing display.

Add something to make your book even more special. I have a book on journal-keeping for teens. For the next book festival, I will package it with a journal book and a pen. This will transform a nice little gift book into a very nice gift package.

Maybe your book cover is particularly lovely. Create some note cards featuring the cover. Offer them for sale separately or together with the book. Have gift bags made with the cover of your book on the front.

Create special interest in your booth. For a children’s book on trains, set up a small train that goes in a circle around your book display. For a book on making living wreaths, have a wreath in progress for everyone to see. Wear a costume. If your novel is set in 18th century England, dress the part and decorate your booth appropriately. If the main character in your children’s book is a clown, become that clown.

Plant seeds about gift giving. Wrap a few books in appropriate gift paper. Put up signs that state, “Perfect Gift for Dad,” “Easter Gift Idea” or “Do Your Holiday Shopping Now.”

Sell More Books at a Book Festival

A key to selling books at a festival is to connect with the potential buyer. When someone looks at one of my books on writing or publishing, I ask, “Are you a writer?” Invariably, we become engaged in conversation which affords me the opportunity to give my sales pitch.

I once watched a man with a children’s book ask everyone who walked by, “Do you know a child who is around 12 years old?” Many people did and many of them bought his book. In fact, he sold out before the day was over.

If someone expresses an interest in your book, but doesn’t buy it, make sure they walk away with one of your professional quality promo pieces.

And this brings me to another important point. Know when enough is enough. I’ve seen authors oversell their books and turn potential customers away. Likewise, I’ve observed authors avoiding contact with people who, with a little nudging, might have bought their book. There’s a happy medium in there somewhere and it’s up to the author to discover it. How?

  • Be observant.
  • Learn to read body language.
  • Know how to talk about your book.
  • Practice your sales pitch.
  • If you need help with any of the above, join a Toastmasters club.

Make it easy for people to purchase your book. Have plenty of change. Accept checks. Accept credit cards. Provide bags for their purchases.

Book festivals can be worthwhile endeavors, but you have to be well prepared and willing to stretch and grow.

To locate book festivals and book fairs throughout the U.S., do a Google search using the keyword “book festivals” or “book fairs” and your city/state name.

Recommended Book

What book would I recommend for someone who is involved in or would like to become involved in using their personality to sell their books? Definitely it would be, Talk Up Your Book, How to Sell Your Book Through Public Speaking, Interviews, Signings, Festivals, Conferences and More. This book focuses on the concept, preparation, planning and execution of promoting your book using the personal touch. To learn more about Talk Up Your Book and for ordering information,

Resource of the Month

I’d like to talk about CreateSpace. We decided to use CreateSpace to print Catnapped and Cat-Eye Witness and I can’t say enough good things about them. They are easy to work with, prompt, friendly, helpful and they seem to do good work. Once they have produced your book, you can go to their site and check sales daily or hourly, if you want.

One of the perks for me is that they are owned by Amazon. When customers order copies of my print books, CreateSpace ships immediately. I simply sit back and collect royalties—well, after doing tons of promotion to make that sale, of course.

Publishing/Marketing News and Views Archives

1: August, 2013—Before Your Book is a Book

2: October 2013—The Psychology of a Book Proposal

3: December 2013—Publishing

4: February—2014—Understanding Book Promotion

Patricia Fry’s Bio Roundup
I’ve been writing for publication for 40 years and I’m the author of over 40 published books—most of them on publishing and book promotion. I’m the Executive Director of SPAWN (Small Publishers, Artists and Writers Network) I compile the Market Update, a bi-monthly newsletter for SPAWN members and I maintain an almost daily publishing blog. The blog boasts over 2,000 posts to date I also write a blog related to cats—through which I promote my Klepto Cat Mystery series and Catscapades, True Cat Tales.

My articles have appeared in hundreds of publications, including Writers Digest, Publishing Basics, Book Marketing Matters, Writer’s Journal, Cat Fancy, Your Health, Horse of Course, Western Horse, The Artist’s Magazine, Woman’s World, The World and I and many others.

I work with authors on their projects from an editorial standpoint, I teach online courses for authors and I travel to speak several times each year at conferences and other author events.

Previews Coming Attractions

Public Speaking and Targeted Conferences—June 2014

Speaking out—Radio/TV/Interviews—August 2014 (Volume 2)

How to Use Social Media for Book Promotion—October 2014

Solicit Book Reviews—December 2014

Promote Your Book Through Articles/Stories—February 2015

The Ins and Outs of a Blog Tour—April 2015

Mission Statement: The primary purpose of this e-newsletter is to bring information, resources and encouragement to fellow authors both beginners and experienced. It’s an education for authors who want to become more successful in a highly competitive industry.