Sunday, September 2, 2012

Notes from the Decatur Book Festival



I was really nervous going into this festival because three days before, the author I was sharing a booth with cancelled on me leaving me with all the costs. The booth itself cost $465 dollars, plus there was the cost of gas, hotel, and food. On top of that, I had to drive four hours out of my way in order to recover over 60 of my books from her. Ultimately, it was worth it because I ended up needing those books to sell.

This festival was so incredible that I ended up making back the cost of the booth on the first day alone! I also sold out of Priscilla the Great book one and Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer.  Not only that, but I had some wonderful experiences. For example, first thing Saturday morning, I met Kara. She is a Priscilla the Great super fan who has read all five books! She came by just to take a picture with me! Because she had read all of the PtG books already, she ended up buying four of my Leslie DuBois titles and I gave her a copy of Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer for free. Kara was such a sweetheart that she came back on Sunday and gave me printed copies of the pictures that she had taken the day before.

On Sunday, more awesome things happened. Maya was a little girl who bought Priscilla the Great book one Saturday. She stayed up late and read the entire book that night! First thing Sunday morning she was at my booth wanting to by the rest of the series. Here’s the crazy part though. She had to buy the books with her own money and all she had was $23 in quarters! In the picture above, you can actually see her holding her bag of quarters. She sat there at my booth and counted out $23 in quarters. Her grandmother then lovingly chipped in the rest so that she could get books 2-4. I have labelled Maya my superfan of the weekend!

Almost directly after that, one of the coordinators of the festival came by and let me know that the person next to me wasn’t showing up so I could expand my booth. So for the entire day, I got two booths for the price of one. It was awesome! I was able to put all of my Leslie DuBois books in one booth and all of my Sybil Nelson books in the other. I went from having half a booth to having two booths!
At the beginning of Sunday, I was really nervous since I was all out of Priscilla the Great book one. But customers didn’t seem to mind. They just paid for book one and allowed me to mail it to them. Several people bought books two and three and let me mail book one for free. One person even bought books two through five and agreed to wait for book one in the mail.
All in all, I thought it was a fantastic festival. It was definitely my best so far. There are a few things I learned and a few tips that I will be stealing from other authors.
1.  Never under estimate the number of books you will need, especially if you write a series. Theoretically, I knew this. But for some reason I still only brought the same number of books each of the five PtG books. Next time I will make sure to have at least three times as many book one’s as the rest of the series.
2. I saw a few other authors had hired fans to walk around in their t-shirts or other garb and pass out bookmarks etc. For my next festival, I plan on doing something similar. I will find local fans willing to wear my t-shirt all day and hand out coupons for a free book. The coupons will be for a free copy of Priscilla the Great: Vampire Slayer or a short story from my Dancing Dream series.
3. You can never have enough freebies to give away. I also plan on having some stickers to give to kids to wear just as another way to get my name out there.
4.  My Kindle giveaway was great and I had well over 100 people enter. But I noticed that the booth next to me was also giving away smaller prizes every hour. I thought that was a great idea and I will definitely be stealing that.
5. I have 15 books of my own for sale, so for me, sharing a booth probably isn’t the best idea. I actually needed the space all to myself. If you have many books of your own, you may want to make the investment and have a booth all to yourself.



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