Many years ago, I wrote a book (well, five, actually). Long-time blog followers will know that I blogged about it enthusiastically at the time. The book had varying fortunes, and in recent times, I had let it gather dust in my house. So when I saw a notice a couple of months ago about the inaugural Copper Coast Geopark Book Fair, I was delighted. I thought it was time my book, The Pink Cage, came out of its, well, cage (sorry).
Preparing to Sell
Finally, the day of the book fair arrived. The thing I was most apprehensive about was how my book stand would look. Other people on my Irish Writers Facebook group had elaborate plans for their stands, but visual display is not my strong point. Luckily, my husband has a strong visual sense, and he helped me display my books around an actual pink cage he had bought me some time ago. I ended up wearing a pink jumper as well (the subconscious is indeed powerful).
After we set up, the doors opened and the punters poured in. Given the remoteness of the location, this was pretty impressive. Another challenge for me was deciding how to interact with punters. I thought about what I like when I go up to a stall. I prefer that people don’t talk to me, but have an approachable look and are happy to chat once I initiate the conversation. So that was the approach I took with punters.
How Was It Overall?
Overall, the experience was great fun. I enjoyed chatting to the customers and watched with interest how other stand holders interacted with theirs. It was particularly interesting to watch a bookseller who’s been in the game for decade. His books were real treasures, and his enthusiasm for his books won him many customers. I shared my stand with a friend of mine, a great local character, and I was particularly delighted to meet Pam O’Shea (@pamlecky) and Fiona Hogan (@cookehogan) from the Facebook group I set up – always great to meet Facebook buddies in real life.
But the selling environment was a little challenging. I had initially believed that this was a book fair for authors looking to sell their self-published book, but it turned out that there were a number of second-hand book stalls. The stands were intended to raise money for the Copper Coast Geopark, so I can understand why they were there, but it was difficult for us authors to compete with them. We’re not familiar names to the public, and because we produced our books ourselves, they cost that bit more.
Still, I sold as many books as I expected to sell. I’m proud that I put my book back out into the world, and that I represented myself as well as I possibly could. Have you sold at a book fair? What were the challenges and what were the benefits? If you run a book fair, how do you manage to make it viable, and what advice would you have to authors who take your stands?