Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Fair Blues? Thirteen Tips to Make Book Booths Better

It's very wintry right now, but spring will be here in about six more weeks. My friend, Carolyn Howard-Johnson,has wome good tips about book promotion in the warmer weather.

The spring season for book promotion will soon be upon us. I have some advice for those who are looking for tips to get the most out of your marketing dollars at the book booth.

Don't rent a booth at a book fair. Don't host an event. Don't do anything! Not without assuring its success with a savvy public relations campaign. Here's how:
  1. Join with other authors to cross-promote.
  2. Send out invitations to readers and to the media.
  3. Produce a catalog or brochure to give to the press in attendance and attendees. Try to give your gift more substance than a mere flier. It will be less likely to get tossed.
  4. Tie sales to a charity relevant to writing or literacy.
  5. Schedule book signing times even though you will be manning the booth for the full day. It adds credibility to your appearance.
  6. Use signs, lighting and other effective display techniques.
  7. Give a gift to those who purchase your book. Go to for a journal that can be used to increase your profits as an add-on sale or as a gift-with-purchase.
  8. Offer snacks to those who drop by.
  9. Take photos for use in post-publicity.
  10. Design a media blitz including queries, releases, and personal phone calls.
  11. Schedule a special offering or entertainment in your booth. At the 2008 LA Times/UCLA Festival of Books my booth partners and I offered mini-videos by Rey Ybarra (reach him at at a special price. Your offering could just as well be a poetry reading or a performance.
  12. If you can afford to do it, give out totes or bags with your book cover, logo, and Web site printed on them. Toss into them your bookmarks or business/postcards.
  13. Get a video of your event to post on your Web site, blogs and YouTube! That gives you after-the-fair value (and credibility!) for the work you've gone to.
And, of course, get a copy of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't for practical suggestions for hundreds of other ways to brand yourself and promote your book. Look up book fair related words in the index including "book fairs," "book signings," "book expos," but don't neglect related subjects like "media releases," "building a contact list," and more.

It's an awful thing to ponder, but it boils down to this. Promotions don't work unless you promote the promotions. So here's to a great spring of 2010.

Carolyn is the author of the award-winning HowToDoItFrugally series of books for writers.

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