What I Learned About Selling Books (At An Arts and Crafts Festival)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

This past weekend, I wore out my flip-flops at an arts and crafts festival here. And early in my trekking/shopping, I passed a booth where a musician was selling his self-produced CD. The lovely notes were wafting through the air and my friend, who happens to be a gifted musician and singer, said, “I could so do that.” And I said, “You so could. But what about selling it?”

We talked about selling strategies for self-produced CD’s and self-published books as we walked on, and a funny thing happened. We learned a few lessons while we bought.

Location, Location, Location (Or Targeting Your Buying Audience)

Most of the shoppers were like me, looking for unique, fun gifts. We had to consider carrying the product (so bulky furniture or heavy items were a problem), and whether we wanted to risk buying something we couldn’t try on (so the clothes were a no-go). It occurred to me that it’s pretty darn important to sell your product where people will buy it. For an author, that might include book festivals or conferences. Or a place of business with a tie-in, like selling your dog-grooming book at your vet’s office. But I don’t think I’d try to sell that same book at a Renaissance fair.

Oh, Look! (Or Hooking Your Audience)

When I saw something really different, or taking-my-breath-away beautiful, I stopped. I entered the booth, and picked up the object for a closer look. Getting readers to take a closer look at your book is huge. So it might be a good idea to spend the money on a professional cover photo, especially since it’s the book cover that a reader/buyer notices first.

How Much? (Or Deciding on Your Price)

Of course, after I looked, I check the price. Is the object of my desire worth the money? Now, honestly, there were many times I could fully appreciate the seller’s price point. They’d invested time and money into making their craft. But if I thought I could get something similar, cheaper, then guess what? Yeah. I passed it by. You might need to sell your book for $15.00 to make a profit. But see that shiny, lovely book over there? It’s $9.00. So why not price your book competitively so you can build your audience? Eventually, readers will be clamoring for your next book. Then, you’ll start making money.

Hi, Y’all! (Or Do You Love Your Job?)

Here’s the thing. I got talked into buying (lots of earrings!) because the seller truly loved chatting about his/her work. That kind of enthusiasm is a powerful marketing tool, my friends. So I’d say remember you’re not just selling a product (your book), you’re selling you (the fabulous author!). I really, really hope you love what you do!

~Cathy C. Hall (who really, really loves her job!)


Sioux Roslawski said...

I have also heard that if you can get them to hold the book (by shoving it into their hands, I guess) they are more likely to buy it.

Yes, the pretty baubles suck me in, too.

Tracy Krauss said...

Yes! Loving what you do and showing it really does work!

Donna Volkenannt said...

Great tips, Cathy.
How true about the importance of location and loving one's job. Oh, it must be the magpie in me, but shiny, pretty things entice me to stop and take a look.

BECKY said...

Hey Cathy~ This was a great bunch of knowledge and advice. (How's that for writerly words?!) Hopefully this comment "takes" because the one I wrote that was so much better than this one wouldn't post.

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