So you’re going to an author fair. You have your reasons why this event is worth your time, so plan ahead a little to make it as successful as possible. Here are some things to TO DO as well as some things NOT TO DO if you are invited to take part:
Publicize the Event
Of course you should let your own followers know where you’ll be. Post it as a calendar item on your website and write a blog post about how excited you are to be going, even if it’s months or weeks away. Share that blog post on all the social media outlets in which you are active. Create an Event on your author Facebook page and share that as well. Depending on how much time you have before the event, write another blog post or two with different angles. Ask where to go for lunch afterward. Or whether there is construction traffic you should avoid.
Also inform the public at large. Don’t count on the event organizers to market as aggressively as you want. They usually have a lot on their minds and your participation is only a small detail. Send out your own release to the local online and physical news outlets. Instead of “I am Going to Be There,” write it more like “20 Authors (Including Me) Are Going to Be There.” You’ll have a better chance of getting published.
Plan the Trip
Use your GPS or Google Maps or whatever you’re comfortable with to make sure that you know where you are going and how long it’s going to take to get there. Some folks even take a trial trip because that makes them more comfortable, but that’s not always practical.
Figure out where you will park and if it will cost you. Or if the public transportation has a different schedule on the day you’ll be traveling. The goal is to arrive relaxed and happy to be participating.
Prepare Your Display
Find out before hand what will be available to you. Some hosts provide you a table with tablecloth and some don’t. Some might even provide electricity and wi-fi which you can use to show a book trailer video on your computer or to power your credit card swiper.
You don’t have to go crazy with décor, but making your book display stand out from the crowd certainly helps you get noticed. Having freebies to give away like bookmarks or candy is also a popular draw. Practice setting up your display at home and then pack it all up the night before so you’re not leaving anything to the last minute.
Thank Your Hosts
Search out and thank the event coordinator that day for letting you take part in their fair. Email your thanks or write a real letter the next day, even if you were able to talk with them in person at the event. Don’t be obnoxious, but you want them to remember what a nice person you were when it’s time to send invitations to the next fair. Or when they are looking for a speaker or book club choice.
NOT To Do:
Expect Celebrity Treatment
Unless you ARE a celebrity, of course! But most of us are average Joe authors, without an entourage of publicists and assistants. Plan to do your own marketing and networking by chatting up fair-goers and introducing yourself to author-appropriate contacts.
If you want to give the impression that you are more important than your hosts and fellow authors, sweeping in late and causing a commotion will do that. Plan ahead to get yourself set up early and spend the extra time helping others set up or in networking.
See above on the impression it gives. Also, it starts a domino effect. Everyone’s face hurts after a long day of smiling at potential customers, so when one person packs up, the others start thinking it’s okay for them, too. Now the folks who visit during the last half hour see a bunch of empty tables and complain to the hosts that it’s a lousy author fair. Plan on staying to the end out of consideration for your hosts.
Whether you are all excited about attending an author fair or dreading it, planning ahead will help you get through it with less hassle. Then you’ll be able to focus on being approachable and interesting so you can sell more books and make more useful connections.