John Briggs Books

And yours, too!

The Long-Term Value of a Book Fair

Does meeting readers make good financial sense?

One of the questions I often hear from authors is, “Should I attend a book fair? They’re charging me $25 for a table (or $20 or $50, or some number—it’s a common occurrence, though) and when I factor in travel and meals, I’ll never make my money back. I make $2 per book (or $4 or $5 or some such number). Will I sell enough books to make it worth it?”

The answer is almost always yes.

Why authors should attend book fairs

Think long-term. It’s entirely possible you won’t make your money back immediately. You’ll be one of many authors there, and one or two of your fellow writers might be real heavyweights with a strong publishing punch. But think of the benefits:

  1. Readers might buy your next book. A reader who buys one book from you, may go on to buy your next (and your next) whether online or in a brick-and-mortar store. Your one small sale now may lead to two or three more.
  2. They might recommend your book. A reader may recommend your book to friends, some of whom could also buy your book.
  3. They might leave you a positive review. A reader might leave a positive review on Goodreads, Amazon, Facebook or someplace else, encouraging others to read it.
  4. They might buy the ebook instead. Just because they didn’t buy the print copy today doesn’t mean they won’t go home and buy the cheaper ebook when they get home (this doesn’t explain why they went to a book fair in the first place, but trust me, it does happen!).
  5. They might buy your book next year. Sometime readers remember you and buy your book the following year because you were nice and didn’t pressure them. Your book fair appearance was good pr for next year.

I’ve attended many book fairs and have almost always made my money back. Some book fairs were tremendously successful and I made my money back just in on-the-spot book sales. A few were less successful, but did I regret it? No. I got to spend my day talking with my fellow writers—some of whom I only see once a year at a particular event)—as well as readers. We were talking about books! What better way could I spend my day than immersed in a discussion of writing, other than actually writing?

I love attending book fairs and always recommend that my fellow authors go. You’ll be doing your readers—and yourself—a favor.

Why readers should attend book fairs

Of course, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t encourage readers to go, too. We need you, but more importantly, there’s a lot for you to enjoy. You’ll likely get bargain prices on books, find books on local or specialzed subjects that are otherwise hard to find, and you’ll be supporting local authors. Sure, a few authors will have come from far away, but the vast majority will be your neighbors. You’ll be helping them make a few dollars on a project they’ve spent years putting together. You’ll feel good about yourself, and they’ll deeply appreciate you buying their book.

So make sure you set aside an hour or two to support your local book fair. And authors – make sure you set aside a day for the same reason!

Jane O'Connor ("Fancy Nancy") at the Hudson Children's Book Festival in Hudson, NY

Jane O’Connor (“Fancy Nancy”) at the Hudson Children’s Book Festival in Hudson, NY

Hudson Children’s Book Festival

Author Jane O’Connor



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This entry was posted on June 7, 2014 by in Uncategorized and tagged .


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