Saturday, July 27, 2019

The Writer's Bulletin: Fairs & Festivals

As a resident of Ohio, I enjoy attending the many festivals and fairs Ohio has to offer. The Ohio Department of Tourism offers free materials, including schedules and highlights, for each festival and fair. As an author, festivals and fairs provide great marketing opportunities. You may be required to pay a minimal table/space fee, but the exposure and opportunity usually outweigh the cost. Here are some ideas for creating a great marketing experience at a festival or fair...

1)   Visit your State's website to receive a Free Travel Guide! Here is the link to sign up for Ohio's Travel Guide... Create a list of the festivals/fairs that you would like to attend, noting dates. Choose the venues that are within your "niche" market first, then select other venues based upon whether or not you think the event will be worth the time and effort. 

2)  Schedule your event far in advance. Local fairs fill up quickly and you will only be able to secure a space far in advance. If you have specific requirements, such as the need to be indoors with a fan or air conditioning, let the fair consultant know so that you will be comfortable. Fairs also offer space for tents, sometimes providing the tent for you for a rental fee. 

3)  Order your books and marketing materials in advance to have on hand at all times. There's nothing worse than getting invited to an event only to find out that you do not have enough books (and if ordering, books will not arrive in time)! Don't miss an opportunity. Always be prepared.

4)  Consider marketing materials, such as push-cards, business cards, and other promotional material that has your email, website, and social media links, especially if you're in a new town and meeting new people. They will want to connect with you!

5)  Some festivals and fairs may not be the best venue to sell books. For instance, my local community has a festival with kiddie rides, parades, queen competitions, and pie contests. My local library invited local authors to set up tables outside the library during the festival. I attended; however, book sales were slim. People usually do not attend festivals to purchase books - they attend to ride rides, play arcade games, and eat food-truck food. Choose your venue wisely. If the festival/fair is geared toward your "niche" market or book topic (see #6), then you will have a greater chance for an enjoyable and lucrative event.

6)  There are many festivals and fairs with a specific "topic". For instance, children's literature author Kaitlin Kulich's first book Pawpaw is My Favorite Flavor is about pawpaw fruit and making pawpaw ice cream. She debuted her book at the Ohio Pawpaw Festival. Another example is my first children's literature, The Blackberry Patch. I collaborated with the Bremerton Blackberry Festival (Washington State) to share my book. Find your niche and you will find the best promotion opportunity.

7) Advertise in the festival or fair program. I like to advertise in my local fair guide. This is great exposure and can be well worth the cost of advertising. 

Whether it's your State Fair, County Fair, or local festival, find the venue that supports your book and your vision. Usually these events happen during hot weather, so stay cool and dress for comfort. What­ever you do, keep writing. Here’s wishing you success!

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