After watching Graeme and Lois Connell at work selling his books at the 2012 Spruce Meadows Christmas Market, the Publisher of PPG learned a few important lessons about book sales and marketing at craft fairs. I’d like to share some of that insight with you…
I arrived at “The Book Nook” (the booth PPG shared with Graeme at this year’s market) to find him and his wife, Lois, busy chatting up a booth full of smiling visitors. He introduced me to three people as, “Our good friends Joseph, Tina, and Elizabeth,” as though he’d known them for years; but I quickly learned they’d only just met an hour earlier. They were our neighbours in a couple of nearby booths.
This set the stage for the entire six days. Graeme and Lois are people-loving people who were there to have fun, make friends, and enjoy themselves as much as they were there to sell Graeme’s Antarctic adventure book Tide Cracks and Sastrugi: An Antarctic Summer in 1968-69. And sell his books they did! Their warm smiles and enthusiasm were clearly infectious as it drew customer after customer into the booth and resulted in sale after sale of his book.
Entice People into Your Booth with Posters and Giveaways
Graeme and Lois clearly knew ahead of time that it would take more than their radiant personalities to draw people into their booth. The walls were adorned with eye-catching pictures of Antarctica and penguins. They had some free giveaways on their table in the form of penguin stickers and bookmarks promoting both Graeme’s current and upcoming books. And they had a fun game on their table that consisted of a shaky ice berg with a bunch of little plastic penguins beside it. The object of the game was to get all the penguins to balance on the ice berg. If you won, you got a free sticker!
I’ve never seen so many toddlers interested in a non-fiction book booth before! And with toddlers come paying parents who were immediately intrigued with Graeme’s Antarctic tale, not only because of the picturesque display in front of them but also because of Graeme’s polished “elevator pitch” describing what his book is about. These tools work hand in hand to increase the potential of any sale.
Be Clear about What You’re Selling with a Strong Call to Action
Over 60,000 people attend the Spruce Meadows Christmas Market every year, but only a fraction of those people are interested in what you‘re selling—that is if they can even find you among all the activity around them. Put yourself in their position, for just a moment, and imagine walking through crowds of people past hundreds of booths. If there isn’t a clear and strong enough call to action in front of them, it’s easier to just keep on walking by.
Our booth was clear in some regards and unclear in others…
The clear calls to action (pictures of Antarctica and penguins, a sign at the top that said “The Book Nook”) attracted children and adventure seekers with an interest in tales about Antarctica. This helped to sell several copies of Tide Cracks with ease.
What was unclear by the other banner outside that said “Canadian Book Publisher” on it was that we had a few other books for sale inside, too. That banner told people we can publish books for them, and it showed samples of some of our past work along with brilliant testimonials from two of our satisfied authors … but it was unclear, by reading it, that we were also selling those books that day. As a result, the only book buyers we attracted into our booth were those interested in Antarctica. They were simply uninterested in the other table filled with all our other books.
If we would have had a prominent poster with a picture of a curling rock on it displayed near our “Book Nook” signage, then perhaps all the avid curlers who walked by us may have stopped to purchase Between the Sheets: The Silver Lining by Cheryl L. Bernard and Guy H. Scholz. A colourful poster displaying a picture of a portulaca plant may have enticed those with an interest in herbology into our booth to purchase A Medical Intuitive Reveals The Wonders of Purslane by Elsie Belcheff. And yet another poster with the words “Strathmore Celebrates Its Centennial” may have brought more Strathmore residents in to buy 100 Years of Memories: Celebrating Strathmore’s Centennial.
Authors Can Sell Their Own Books Better Than Anyone Else
One of PPG’s newest authors dropped by one day to help us out at our booth. Before she even took her coat off that morning, she made the first sale of her own book Soul Searching by A.R. Jones. She sold another two copies of it shortly after, simply by standing outside the booth with a copy of her book in her hand and greeting potential new customers as they walked by with her own unique elevator pitch about her book.
This got me thinking. Why were we unable to sell her book beforehand? But as soon as the author got there, she was able to sell three? Because the best salesperson for any book is the author of that book. Period. Add some free giveaways, a couple of eye-catching posters containing a clear call to action, a persuasive elevator pitch, and a radiant smile into the mix and the sales are sure to follow.
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