I turn my head from left to right scrutinizing the setup of my booth. The tables are in the shape of an L and are situated toward the back of the booth space. This set up leaves plenty of room for readers to come in and browse. The tablecloths are fitted and reach the floor in solid black, very professional looking. I have five neatly stacked towers of books, each topped with a book standing up and facing forward. I have also bundled up sets of my books in big red bows and have propped them up on easels of their own. My banner is prominently displayed letting those attending the event know exactly what is being offered within the confines of my space. On one table end there is a newsletter sign up clipboard, push cards, business cards, speaking brochures, and a mug with pens. I also have bags ready for those who make purchases. I slightly adjust one of the standup books and tweak a bow on a bundle. Now I’m satisfied. Bring on the crowds.
Why did I participate in twenty of these live events in 2013?
Why did I go through the trouble of attending craft fairs, carting boxes of books, and standing for hours on end at low attendance events? Why, when four out of five events are not well advertised, did I bother making sure my booth is professional looking at all times and that I’m always ready with a smile and a word of encouragement for anyone who might stop to chat?
I participate in craft fairs for several reasons and I’ll try and list them all here. First and foremost, people. Why write Christian books if you don’t care about people? I meet so many people at these events. Even at events where I sell nearly nothing, I meet someone I can pray with or encourage. I have never had an event that I wish I didn’t attend. People are worth my time.
I mention above that four out of five of the events I attended in 2013 were not well attended. That means that one out of five events was highly successful for me in regards to selling books. But, selling books at events is secondary; in fact selling books is really the cherry on the sundae. Participating in these events is about making contacts and no matter how low attendance is, I always meet people. I book most of my speaking events from craft fairs. I have been contracted to speak at two writers’ conferences and multiple women’s ministries. I have given interviews because of contacts from craft fairs. I have been featured in newspapers because I will be at a craft fair. I have obtained clients for my publishing consulting business through craft fairs. I’m making money because craft fairs are about more than selling books, they are about making contacts.
Who attends craft fairs?
Women. Lots of women. And sometimes they bring their husbands. And when they attend they bring money to buy things. And when they shop they are looking for unusual items that will make wonderful gifts for that hard to buy for person in their life. They also come from all walks of life. If you want to speak for women’s ministries, there is no better place to meet the ladies who run the ministries, especially at church events.
I have heard authors balk at participating in craft fairs, as if participating would be a huge waste of their time. I would not be where I am today if I wasn’t willing to take chances and look at every event I participate in with a positive attitude. Because I was willing to participate in small events, my husband and I are able to participate in hugely attended events in 2014. Our territory is being greatly expanded because we are willing to do what it takes. We now have more money to pay hundreds of dollars to participate in events that thousands of people (in our target audience) are attending. I’m also being paid to participate in events rather than having to pay for them all. All because I was willing to pay $30 to participate in a small church craft fair in 2013.
What are you willing to do to be successful?
About the Author
Darlene Shortridge is the best-selling author of The Women of Prayer Series as well as co-author of [easyazon_link asin=”B00FS3QJJ0″ locale=”US” new_window=”default” tag=”training-authors-20″ add_to_cart=”default” cloaking=”default” localization=”default” nofollow=”default” popups=”default”]40 Day Publishing: An Author’s Workbook and Step by Step Guide to Self Publishing in Eight Weeks or Less![/easyazon_link]. She, along with her husband, Daniel, owns 40 Day Publishing, a publishing consulting company.
Her books are available at most online venues including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Look for her soon to be released book Craft Fairs: Not Just for Crafters. (Working title, subject to change)