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Tucson Festival of Books (2/3): Preparing to sell!

Published March 25, 2017 by Melissa Koberlein

And so, my journey into the Arizona desert continues…

After a lovely ride from the airport and some authentic Southwestern Mexican cuisine, it was time to check out the University of Arizona, the location of the Tucson Festival of Books. Luckily, my aunt lives in Tucson. She knew the campus and happily took me on a tour. Afterward, I felt confident that I could navigate my way back to the festival on Saturday for some cool panels, workshops, and, of course, my time slot to sell books.

Saturday arrived, and I was feeling excited. I enjoy talking to people about my books and what they are currently reading. But, as with any new experience, there were nerves. This was the first time for me to sell my books at a book festival. So, I did what I always do before a speech (Have I mentioned that I’m a professor of speech communication?) I channeled the nerves into positive energy. After all, anyone who cares about their message feels some degree of anxiety.

Before my time slot, I milled around my assigned tent and purchased interesting books from fellow indie authors. This is where I found Lisa Caskey and her YA sci-fi trilogy, The Farmed. I’m a believer in supporting the community of indie authors. I also wanted to scope out what the layout was for my books, swag, and such. Then, I found a nice, quiet place to gather my thoughts.

2:30 rolled around, and it was a balmy, no, scratch that, it was a scorchy 91 degrees with the sun threatening to singe my thighs even through my capris. It was a hot one! After a quick set up with the help of my entourage (Aunt Rosey and Jo), I was ready to set sale! And sell, I did. It was fantastic fun. I loved meeting new people from all walks of life, learning about them, and talking about my books (more about those folks in my final post about the festival).

So, here are my takeaways for anyone who is thinking about selling their books at a festival:

  • Over prepare. Yes, I’m serious. Ask yourself, ‘Why will people stop at my table to talk to me about my book?’ The answer is a beautiful display showcasing your books and characters and FREE swag.
  • People LOVE free stuff, and if you can give them something free that also advertises your book, why not? Bookmarks, postcards, pens, buttons, bags, etc. Do whatever you like! I’m a big fan of Vistaprint. They do a nice job, and if they do make a mistake, they will make it right asap. Great customer service.
  • Learn what space you are being provided, including the dimensions. This is important if you would like to get a banner which comes in vertical or horizontal. This was a great asset for me at the festival.
  • Have some extra books ready. You never know how many you might sell! People always wonder about the number of books you will sell. I had a booth time of two hours and took a dozen of each of my books. Also, what you don’t sell, you can take to your next event.
  • Cut the potential readers a deal. Discount your books or, if you have more than one book to sell, offer one for free! Remember that the goal isn’t just to sell your book, it is to get your book into the hands of readers.
  • Make sure you have change if needed and the ability to take credit cards for payment. I used Square and my iPad for a signature. This worked well. I was also able to add on the Tucson sales tax required (make sure you check in with the festival you are selling at about sales tax due.)
  • Lastly, when it’s time to sell, smile. After all, you’re happy about selling your book(s), right? 🙂

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