Last week I had my first book fair at the YALL festival in Charleston, SC and today I had my second at the Savannah Children’s book festival in…well…Savannah. I think the one big thing I’ve learned from these two weekends is that no two book fairs are alike. My experiences were totally different. I think next time, I’ll be prepared for differences in fairs and be more prepared.
For one thing, last weekend was a YA book festival, which meant there were teenagers there shopping as well. I was able to bring all of my books and sold a few of my upper YA books and even one of my adult books. I knew Savannah would be a children’s book festival and would target a younger audience so I planned to only sell my Priscilla the Great series and my Queen Bee series. When I got there, it was clear that The Queen Bee of Bridgeton would be too old for the crowd, so I didn’t even take it out of the suitcase. Even Priscilla was too old for a lot of the consumers there.
I did manage to sell some books, but I think I would have done so much better if I also had some younger books in order to reach more people. I also wish I had some books aimed at boys. Both last week and this week I had people pass up my book because there was a girl on the cover. While I do have an idea for a boy book, today I suddenly realized that I already have a book with boys on the cover. My collection of short stories Twin Shorts. It would be super easy to add a few illustrations to it, use a really big font and make it a short soft cover book for some of the little boys that were in between the picture book and chapter books stage. At a price of $5 per book, I have a feeling they would sell like hot cakes. Meanwhile, last week with older kids, I probably could have gotten away with selling my books for $15 each instead of $10.
Last week after selling 26 books, I had high hopes for this week and I wanted to sell 30 books. The last book fair had only about four or five thousand and this one had over 30,000 people there so I thought I would do well. I even raised the prices of my books in expectation. When I got there, I immediately dropped the prices so they would be more in line with my neighbors. The fair started at 10 and by 12 I had only sold 2 books. I was starting to lose hope and decided to start thinking of the weekend as just a great getaway with my husband. I met some great authors and once again made great connections, but I was trying not to think about all the money I was losing. But toward the end of the day, things really started to pick up. I ended up selling 18 books total, a vast improvement over the first two hours.
The highlight of my day had to be using my new credit card reader. Thanks to a suggestion from another author, I went and checked out a website called www.squareup.com. It allows you to download an app to your iPhone and take credit cards. Yes, I was able to accept credit cards on my phone. It was absolutely amazing and I sold 4 books that way. I’m still reveling in its glory. I mean I thought accepting credit cards would be this crazy difficult and expensive thing. Nope, it’s as easy as pushing a button on your iPhone. I love my iPhone.
I chatted a lot with the author next to me and we were able to swap our stories of what worked and what didn’t. She showed me a very nice brochure she had made of herself and told me she had mailed out 500 of them without a single response. This was very disheartening since it is exactly what I had planned on doing. She said that emailing school librarians was much more effective. I guess I’ll go back to that route. Since I’m getting some free brochures though, maybe I’ll try both an email and a mailing for all of the local schools.
Overall, it was a great day. I feel that with each fair I do I learn more and more. They haven’t become real money makers for me or anything, but the experience has been worth the time and effort.