On the Road
By Persia Walker
So last week this time, I was on my way to the airport to catch a plane to Houston for the National Black Book Fair. It was my first time taking part in such an event and my, my, my was it an eye-opener!
To put it in a nutshell, it was the first time I worked as a vendor, selling my own books, as opposed to serving on a panel or speaking at a bookstore. At the fair, I joined a hundred or so other authors in hawking our wares, so to speak.
What did I learn? Well, I've always had respect for booksellers, admiration, too. Now, let's just say I double it. Booksellers work hard, folks. We authors owe them a whole lot of support and gratitude. (Hint, hint: Shop at your local independent bookstores, folks!)
Most of the authors were quite experienced at this fair business and were generous with their wisdom and advice. First thing I learned was to compile a list of ready-to-go items:
- Signage (a poster for your titles)
- Table drape (not a table cloth. Often the fair provides this. A table drape, however, can help you stand out further.)
- Gift baskets
- Tickets to raffle off said gift baskets
- Candies and candy jars to lure readers who have an appetite for sweets (or just a quick need for some energizing sugar)
- A booklet, list or pad whereon one can have folks sign their names and email addresses to join your mailing list
- Promotional material (business cards, magnets, sample chapters, chapstick, scratch pads, etc.)
- A credit card machine
- A small marking board where you can write (and sometimes amend) your prices
- A SOLD OUT! sign
- Book holders (to display your books)
- Maybe bags to give your buyers to carry away goodies in
Whatever you decide, venues such as local or regional book fairs can be a lot of fun. They're hard work, but they can provide you with valuable new contacts among other authors and face time with new readers. You just have to count your numbers correctly.