First Public Promotional Experience

It was a cool morning on another great autumn day as I pulled into the near empty parking lot. Packed in the back of my Jeep was a large ice cooler on wheels filled with books and tabletop advertising. The canvas-folding chair was trapped by the handle and the cooler top, and extended past both cooler edges by eight inches.

Pulling the cooler across the lot as I looked for the ramp, I watched a couple women scurry between blue metal county fair buildings clutching something cloth-like in one hand and a clipboard in the other.

Uncertain of where to find the sub-rented booth, I entered building #2. Walked in trying to look like a veteran of the Simple Pleasures craft show, the gatekeeper was busy with another exhibitor exchanging family photos on their phones. I walked into a maze and probably looked like Dorothy in her house flying/spinning to Oz.

Pure luck rested on my shoulder. I moved a blanket rack for entry into the serpentine aisle about ten feet from the destination.

Winter's Thief postcardUnpacked the tabletop signs, post cards, and a hand full of books. Ready, set, wait. Thirty-five minutes to launch.

Kathryn Jones, who sub-rented the booth space, arrived while I was checking out the next aisle. Upon my return, we chitchatted a few minutes before the shoppers appeared around the corner.

Kathryn was a master promoter: handing out postcards, talking to shoppers, and selling her books. She sold a lot of books that first day.

I sold one in the morning. Had lunch. Decided “I can do this.” Tried to copy her example—sold three that afternoon. Kathryn gave me a few tips on the display and offered encouraging words.

Friday was my last day at the booth — sold ten books.

Not a blistering start, but the great experience taught me:

  • Contact, contact, contact. Must be happily promoting book(s) and engaging potential readers.
  • If you are an unknown author, the books will not sell themselves.
  • Need to know your elevator speech.
  • Be prepared for any tangent the questions may take.
  • Take plenty of handouts. Pre-printed postcards work great.
  • Display lots of books (Avoid this if worried about theft).
  • Signage is the lure. The book should be the catch.
  • 70% of the readers looked at the book cover, reviewed the back cover, and then read the first page.

My second promotion went much better, but it’s the subject of another blog.

Let me know if you found this helpful.



BAheadshotAndean White
– Author of Heroic Fantasy
Twitter: @AndeanWhite

As a young boy at family gatherings, I recall listening to the men after a meal. The opinions around the subjects of politics, car brands, hippies, and rock n roll filled the room with energy like aromatic smoke from a pipe. But, when the story telling began everyone found a seat or patch of floor. We sat for hours absorbing the stories, fact or fiction, that shaped who we became and it strengthened our imaginations. Fifty years later I know that a world without imagination would be pretty boring.

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Author: Andean White

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