"It's the most wonderful time of the year..." which means there are oodles of new opportunities to sell your book. Not only are more people shopping during the holiday season, but books have traditionally been the go-to Christmas gift. So as I prepare to fly back to my hometown this weekend to participate in the wildly popular Turners Christmas fair at the Moncton Coliseum, I thought I'd share with you the essentials that I'm packing to get me through the 3-day marathon weekend of selling and signing books.
I decided to participate in the Turners Christmas fair this year because I've always gotten great support from my hometown (Moncton, NB) and because I was invited to share a booth with my sister who is promoting her own company, Been There Gifts, selling awesome Atlantic Canadian products. My fiction novel fits in perfectly with the overall Maritime theme, since the book is a coming-of-age story about a young Acadian woman living in the nearby town of Shediac (Pointe-du-Chene, NB), otherwise known as the Lobster Capital of the World (serious!)
Here is a list of the essential things you need to know about promoting your book at a 3-day Christmas fair.
1. Combine and conquer. Consider sharing your booth with someone else, since it can be a lot of work and a bit overwhelming to plan the logistics of an entire booth all by yourself. If you share the space with someone who has a complementary product, you'll draw in more people, too.
2. Sign up for Square. Make your life easy and accept credit card purchases directly on your cell phone by using a Square reader. All you need to do is sign up in advance for Square, download the app, and ensure that you have a data plan on your phone (as wifi will be unreliable in a large coliseum venue). You should also prepare for cash sales by rounding off your book price so you won't be dealing with any coins, and carry a small float of loonies ($1), toonies ($2), and five-dollar bills.
3. Eat and hydrate. Pack a cooler bag with bottles of water and some healthy snacks, such as fruit and nuts. Avoid the crankies and nourish yourself along the way. If you are so lucky as to be run-off-your-feet busy with sales, you may not have time to take a proper dinner break, so at least you'll have something to grab in the meantime.
4. Pens, pens, pens. You can't have enough pens, especially since they will grow legs and walk off on their own into the sunset together.
5. Call to action. Create enticing posters with strong 'call to action' messages so people will be more inclined to buy your book. For example, you can offer 'tax free' or '20% off' or 'signed copy', which readers can't get when they buy your book online or at the bookstore.
6. Ship inventory ahead of time. Make your best guess at how many books you'll need (e.g. 150-200 for a 3-day fair) and ship them in advance to the venue, or to a friend's house in the same city. Or, if need be, you can bring boxes of books with you in your suitcase on the plane, then use your suitcase as a dolly to wheel your books into the fair. Example: Air Canada allows your first bag to weigh 23kilos (depending on the size of your book, this could be approx. 55 books), and you can add a second bag weighing 23kilos (or forget the suitcase and just bring the box of books) for a fee of $20.
7. Invite people. Create 'events' on all your social media channels including Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon's Author Central, Linked-In, and Google+. If you have the time and money, you can also consider creating an ad on Facebook.
8. Dress comfortably. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes (these large venues often have concrete floors), and bring a sweater, too. Dress for success!
9. Music. It's a Christmas fair, y'all, so why not invite people over to your booth with the wonderful, uplifting sounds of a Big Band Christmas. Plus, the tunes will help keep you in the holiday spirit, too.
...and my number one essential item for a book signing is
10. Lip balm!
Have a great book signing weekend!
Stacey D. Atkinson is the author of the newly released novel Stuck, which she published via her independent company Mirror Image Publishing.