My First Book Fair: Tips and Warnings

Author: sybilnelson  //  Category: Uncategorized

Last Saturday I attended YALL Fest, a new Young Adult book festival right here in Charleston. I wanted to share my experience as a way to get ready for my next festival in Savannah on Saturday.


I sold 26 books, got lots of signatures for my newsletters, and hopefully made some new fans. I also met another local author and made plans to share expenses for future local book festivals. The highlight of my day was when a little girl named Cora brought her friends over to my table and started raving about the Priscilla the Great series. She said she gets the books from her aunt who knows the author personally. She almost fell over when I told her I was the author. Then she had me autograph anything and everything she could get her hands on. Later she brought her twin sister by and the signing started all over again. It turns out that her aunt is my husband’s coworker who has purchased several books from me for her nieces.

I also made some great connections. Two school teachers asked me to come speak at their schools. One has already emailed me with an order of 10 books.


The festival was really expensive. It cost $200 to have an exhibitor table. For a few days I thought I had made an $18 profit after selling the 26 books, but then I realized that I hadn’t counted what I paid for the actual books. When I factor that in, it means I actually lost money! So this was a great learning experience for me. I learned to try to come up with all my cost beforehand and perhaps charge more for books. Last Saturday I only charged $10 per book with the hopes of selling a lot. I also charged only $3 for the Priscilla the Great books with the old cover. For the festival coming up in Saturday, here are my projected expenses:

Booth rental – $100

Hotel   -           $40

Books –            $130

Gas –                $50

Extras -            $50

So if I charge $15 per book, I will need to sell 25 books in order to break even. I also plan on giving discounts for multiple purchases such as 2 for $25 and 3 for $35. Maybe that way I can get more sales. To make sure this happens, I’m going to use the money I’ve allotted for extras and buy some incentives. I plan on making a basket of goodies and giving it away to one customer. Anyone who buys something will be entered to win. Since it is a children’s book festival, I plan on having some candy available in order to lure the children over to my table.

What do you need if you’re planning to attend a book fair? This is a list of things that I had which I found very helpful. Most of these things I gave away for free or added to the bag when someone bought something. I collected all these items for next to nothing by taking advantage of the Vistaprint sales.

2 Banners with my company’s name

Free Tshirts




Sticky notes


Bags (for putting in purchased products)

All of these items really helped me look professional and added to the shopping experience for the customer. I’ll let you know Monday if I actually get my 25 sales.

2 Responses to “My First Book Fair: Tips and Warnings”

  1. sybilnelson Says:


  2. Elysabeth Says:

    An event I did in Mint Hill (on the outskirts of Charlotte) in 2009 (shared a tent with some author friends of mine), I did a lot of goodies/giveaways and they commented something like this – “You’ll never make any money if you keep giving things away.” or maybe it was like “You give away a lot, why?” – lol. I think it’s all about he kids and the space you have. I used to do some games at my table for the kids to win prizes (all related to my state books, of course), but have gotten away from that since I’m now using some of those games for my writing workshop for the kids, and giving the prizes away then. Of course, if no one shows up to the workshop, then I don’t give anything away and it saddens me, but eventually my books will be supporting me and I won’t have to worry about giveaways. It will all work out in the end. If you hear of other festivals that you think I might be interested in and could possibly share a table with you and the other author, let me know and if I’m available – I’ll definitely join ya’ll. I wanted to do the YALL fest last week but unfortunately, no funds, plus with everything else going on in my life – it would have been a serious push to get away that weekend as well. November is one busy mont for me – or at least this November was – I had a teachers’ conference (the SC independent schools association conference) the first Friday of November; GIS day the middle of the month and turned around and went to Savannah the next day for a school visit first thing Friday morning and then to the book festival on Saturday – so lots of traveling for me – but I’ve enjoyed it and things are looking up at least for right now – lol. Chat later – E :)

    Elysabeth Eldering
    Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery

    Ma America, The Travelin’ Maven
    Author of the JGDS, 50-state, mystery, trivia series and Train of Clues (the predecessor to the series)
    Where will the adventure take you next?

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv Enabled