Are Local Author Events Worth Doing? Reflections from Friday’s Read Local Library Book Fair

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My booth set-up.

On Friday, May 1st, as part of First Friday’s in downtown Kokomo Indiana, the Kokomo Howard County Public Library (KHCPL) hosted a book fair featuring local authors from Howard and neighboring counties. Nearly 30 authors participated on that day, including me and my friend Teri Robison, author of The Secrets of Heavenly. 

I had low expectations going into this event considering the library has hosted similar events in the past with little success. The media coverage was sparse to say the least. My own feature in the Kokomo Tribune had run several months ago, and all of the articles the week of the event focused more on Saturday’s speaker rather than on Friday’s authors. With that in mind, I only brought about 30 books and half of my table decorations.

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Even mom showed up to offer her support!

However, once the event got underway, and once I sold a couple copies of my book, my expectations quickly rose. In less than three hours, I met with over 15 potential new readers and sold about a dozen copies of my book, which is cash in my pocket. Several of those readers recognized me from cosplay conventions. Several others were excited to hear about my book and future projects. It’s safe to say, I’ve made a few new fans who I can’t wait to see again at future events. Not only that, but I had a great time interacting with everyone who stopped by my booth. When the night was over, I was reluctant to pack up and leave.

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Working the buddy system

So, do I think local author events are worthwhile?

Yes!

Not only do they provide opportunities to sell your books, but they are also a great way to meet the local readers, encourage literacy in your community, and practice talking about your book. You’ve got nothing to lose but a couple of bucks and a few hours of your time, which are well spent.


Here are some ways to make the most out of any author event:

  • Bring lots of books. Better to have too many than not enough.
  • Hand out bookmarks and business cards with your websites.
  • Showcase your blog or social media site as part of the display.
  • Decorate your table with bright colors and fun items.
  • Include one conversation piece as part of your display.
  • Include a sign-up sheet for your newsletter.
  • Bring change in a money box.
  • Dress to impress.
  • Arrive early and stay late.
  • Smile and engage your audience.
  • Talk about your book.
  • Share your sense of humor.
  • Mark your prices lower than Amazon so readers get a deal.
  • Direct them to Amazon reviews while you chat.
  • Did I say smile?
  • Bring a buddy. Work the buddy system.

Anyway, I hope you find that advice helpful. Most of those tips were shared to me by Author M. T. McGuire, who I greatly admire. She’s the one who told me about the “conversation piece,” which by the way, really works! Mine is a stuffed rabbit from Monty Python. Fans of the movie hurried to my booth to play with the rabbit and learn more about my book.

And of course, thanks again to everyone who showed their support on Friday! Happy Monday!

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29 thoughts on “Are Local Author Events Worth Doing? Reflections from Friday’s Read Local Library Book Fair

  1. Woah! Thanks for the mention, I’m glad my witterings have helped you plan and even more glad you did well and had fun. I have to say I have really enjoyed all the author events I’ve done so far. Even the ones where nobody really turned up. I think that’s the key. If you smile and enjoy yourself people come to see what’s going on.

    Cheers

    MTM

    • Mary, Mary, Mary!! You have me tripping over my own feet. Posting more than one recipe a day makes me want to get into the kitchen more often. I abellutsoy love all that you share. Your home must be the most visited by neighbors. In fact, I always wanted to ask…..do you really cook this much for the 2 of you, or is it shared by the multitude? And, I wish I was a neighbor!! 😉

  2. That is awesome, congrats!

    I’m relieved that no one got hurt by the rabbit. I take it we’re talking about the dreaded killer bunny that can only be dealt with by means of a holy hand grenade? (and we all know how hard it is to come by one of those!)

    Next time, may I suggest you opt for a parrot: they tend to sleep a lot.

  3. Love the idea of the rabbit as a conversation piece and interesting to hear it worked. Last year, I used stickers (the book is called Would You Marry A Farmer? and I had two different coloured stickers with that question – blue had yes and yellow had no. It worked well as people wore the stickers around the huge show and I had my stand number on it too. I must put my thinking cap on for this year’s event.

    • the title is fly fishing for trout not how to fly fi;0&#823hs.. basic principles of fly fishing always stay the same but he told us what type of flys will be useful and how to tell if theres any trout within a river/fishing spot which is pretty much what the title suggests the video will tell us about

  4. I think a lot of new authors have expectations of selling loads of books at signing events, which is not always the case. I have learned to focus on the contacts and the experience rather than the sales (but those are nice too). Great article!

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