What works and what doesn’t

I participated in a local street festival this weekend in hope of selling books and meeting new readers. Suffice it to say, the weekend was not a raging success. It was an outdoor event and the weather couldn’t have cooperated better. While a little windy, it was warm and sunny, the perfect weekend to spend outside. The crowds were not huge, but big enough to insure moderate success. So why didn’t I sell more books, or at least attract the interest from future readers?

While watching visitors breeze past my booth as they tried to avoid eye contact, I noticed a few things I’ll keep in mind while planning my schedule for next year. It wasn’t only me they were avoiding. Most people weren’t buying anything. Except food. Everyone out on this gorgeous last weekend in April was there to buy walking burritoes, deep fried veggies, or ice cream. Hey, don’t knock ’em if you haven’t tried ’em.

One ingenous fellow designed a weapon made out of PVC pipe that shot marshmallows and was selling them by the truckload for $7 to everyone under 18. Other than that, the rest of us sat there and watched the crowds walk past.

Lesson learned, at least for this particular festival. Most attendees are not interested in buying books for summer reading. Several of the people who did approach me are already fans and have copies of all my books. I guess it’s time to branch out a little farther.

I do enjoy setting up at craft fairs and street festivals, even after this dismal showing. Many readers never find themselves in a bookstore and are thrilled to meet an author face to face. It’s always a boost for the old ego when they gush about how wonderful and brilliant you are. The local angle is also good for selling a few copies. Even people who don’t buy will remember you the next time they are in the library looking for something good to read. That’s what this is all about, folks, one reader at a time.

So don’t discount the festivals and craft shows because of one disappointing weekend. I’ll give them another try as my schedule permits. But when I get my application for this one next year, I think I’ll pass.

Have a great week. Teresa

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