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Tip Tuesday features writers' tips on craft, research, querying, blogging, marketing, inspiration, and more. If you'd like to send in a tip, please e-mail me at agentspotlight(at)gmail(dot)com.

Natalie here today. Today I have a fantastic tip by a friend and Michigan author Sandy Carlson about how to promote your books through festivals and fairs. Sandy is the author of THE TOWN THAT DISAPEARED, a MG historical fiction novel about a town that was buried in sand in the middle 1800’s that was released in March, 2014. Details of the giveaway are at the end of the post.

FESTIVALS AND FAIRS – Promoting During Summertime

School’s over for the year. That means three months of no more school visits. You could, of course, write like crazy during this time. Or you could step outside the box to find different ways to promote your book during the summer months.

Summer is the time for festivals, and they usually happen on weekends. As events include venders hawking their wares, what a perfect time for authors to sit and talk with lots of different folk about your very own ware, i.e., your book(s).

Step One: Identifying Festivals and Fairs

Either read your local newspaper for events, or Google festivals and fairs in your location range. Often towns will list their summer events on their websites. If you have a dog in your story, seek out Dog Festivals. If you wrote about cowboys or Indians, Frontier Days are waiting for you. If you have unicorns or mermaids or armored warriors, your book is a perfect fit for the many Medieval Faires throughout the states.

Step Two: Preparing for the Event

Register for the event, and read the fine print. For instance, some events require each vender to have a fire extinguisher.

Items to take with you: A table and chair is essential. Cover the table with a decorative or bright cloth. Signs indicating what you are selling. Most event booths have E-Z ups or push-ups or some sort of canopy over the table – essential in case of rain. Bug spray is handy for events in or near woods. Prepare for what to do in gusts of wind, e.g. weights. Take plenty of water, especially in the heat of the summer months. If you plan on eating vender food, taking some anti-acid tablets might come in handy. (Just saying.)

Set up and take down your “booth” at home to make sure you can easily do it on the day of the event before the visitors start in.

Step back and look at it from the attendee’s point of view (simple thing for authors to do) and ask yourself: Is it inviting? Is it too busy or too slack? Can people ambling past immediately identify what your product is?

Freebies are always fun and welcoming. Naturally, you would have business cards. You could also have wrapped candy mints (no chocolate; chocolate melts!), or bookmarks, or pencils with your book name on them, or a drawing for a free book (for which you also have contact numbers for updates of future books). Be creative. Have fun with it.

Step Three: The Event

Set up your booth as close to the walkway as allowed. Don’t be shy. Ask a question to passer-bys to get them to step up to your table, like, “Are you in fourth grade?” (if your book is for that age group); “Do you like snakes?” (if your book has snakes in them); “How many fish do you think are in this bowl?” Don’t talk on and on. Adjust your spiel to each potential customer. And SMILE.

It’s best to have someone else with you during the event, at least for part of it. If not, get to know your vender mates, especially those on either side of you and across from you. If you are alone, these wonderful folk come in very handy for any trips to the portapotties. The day can be very long, often ten hours long. Exchange business cards with the venders you met. Buy from them, if appropriate.

Step Four: Evaluate

Wash and put everything away. Step back from it and think what went well and what could be improved. Weigh your options. As each event has a different flow, one event may pull in lots of sales and others may only cover the cost of registration. Plan for your next event.

Thanks for the great tip, Sandy. You can find Sandy at:

Here’s a blurb of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED from Goodreads:

Act of man or act of God? Just how many homes and friends does a kid have to lose in twelve years?

Driven from his neighborhood during the Chicago fire of 1871, Adrian and his parents move to the Michigan wilderness where his father lands a job at the sawmill. The town is called Singapore - as if a name could make a tiny spit of a town into a great seaport.

Adrian finds it difficult to adjust to his new surroundings. Back in Chaicago, it was easy to keep his hobby a secret, even from his father. But in this small town, will people discover who the true knitter of the family is? Only his best friend, big R.T., keeps Adrian level, even though R.T. does have that habit of speaking in animal dialects.

Then, just as Adrian starts to feel that Singapore is his home, he discovers the moving sand dunes along the Lake Michigan shore are slowly burying his town. He tries to stop it, but how can he fight both man and nature?

Sandy has generally offered a copy of THE TOWN THAT DISAPPEARED for a giveaway. It’ll be a print version for US and an e-book for International winner. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on June 15th. I’ll announce the winner on June 17th.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry. You must be 13 or older to enter. International entries are welcome.

Hope to see you on Monday when I interview Dianne Salerni and give away an ARC of her new book, THE CAGED GRAVES. It’s a historical novel filled with mystery, paranormal elements, and romance that I really enjoyed. Dianne’s one of my writing heroes and I’m thrilled to interview her.


Creepy Query Girl said...

I'm about a thousand miles away from having to think about this but fantastic tips Sandy! And 'yay' for Dianne!

S.P. Bowers said...

I've seen authors at fairs before. It's always fun to step aside and check out their books. Great tips!

Ann Finkelstein said...

Great ideas. Thanks for sharing, Sandy. Will you be at the Venetian Festival/art fair at Saugatuck in July?

(I'll bow out of the contest because I already own a copy of Sandy's book.)

Danielle H. said...

I like the tips for summer marketing. Great ideas! I hope to be a winner of your book, Sandy! I will post on Facebook.

mshatch said...

Oh good tips, I know a few authors who do these fairs so will give them a heads up :)

Kristin Lenz said...

Sandy - Thanks for your practical (and humorous) advice, and congrats on your book!

Theresa Milstein said...

Sandy, I could promote on Facebook and Twitter, but a fair sounds so daunting! I've seen other authors do it and sometimes I walk over to their table. If I ever have a book to promote, you've given me some good ideas.

Good luck with The Town that Disappeared.

Andrea Mack said...

These tips sound great!

Jeanette Pekala said...

Good idea with the free stuff. I know I'm always attracted to the booths with free stuff! LOL.

Anonymous said...

@Theresa -- "a fair sounds so daunting"? It's terrifying! In fact, the morning of the first day my stomach hurt so much I though I'd just stay home and relinguish my vender fee and cower in my den for the weekend. It took about till noon of day one before I relaxed enough to do more than say hi to my neighboring venders. Courage and smiling both help. Thanks for commenting.

Gwen Gardner said...

Love your ideas, Sandy. Maybe one day I'll get over my fear of the public, LOL! Your book sounds intriguing - knitting? I love it :)

Hi Natalie!

Anonymous said...

(I'm having trouble publishing comments.)

THANK YOU all you wonderful commenters! Wish you each could win a free copy!

Anonymous said...

Two thumbs up for Ann! (Thanks for the heads up. I'd heard of other fairs there, but surprisingly not that one.)

nutschell said...

wow what a great post. so many awesome tips. NOt at the stage where I can use them just yet so I'm bookmarking this. :)

Angela said...

Thanks for the great tips Sandy! I posted the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter.

Lydia Kang said...

Nice tips, thank you Sandy!

Candace said...

I think festivals are a great way to get your book out there and this is a great list of tips! I attend a lot of festivals and always check out the books just cause I love to chat with authors (and read books, of course) but I know the freebies draw in people. I think giving away candy or swag is good and having a drawing as well is a great way to get some email addresses. This is a fantastic post and has me excited to attend some festivals since they haven't really started just yet, but will be soon! I wonder if I have an author friend who might want to do one and I can help her... that would be fun!

Heather Villa said...

Thanks, Sandy. Maybe I'll meet you at a festival this summer.
Heather Villa

Anonymous said...

You're quite welcome, and thank you, commentees, for not only stopping by to read this post, but to also take the time to leave replies. (Oh, who's going to get the giveaway copy? Can't wait to find out.)

Rachna Chhabria said...

Thanks for the fantastic tips, Sandy. Interesting title.

Crystal Collier said...

Awesome. I've been to a couple live events like this when we managed an audio/visual company. I love the atmosphere and camaraderie with other vendors.

Laura S. said...

Sounds like a cool book. I love the title! Thanks for the tips, Sandy!!

Happy reading and writing! from Laura Marcella @ Wavy Lines

cleemckenzie said...

Connecting with readers in person is so rewarding. I loved this post. It had some excellent suggestions for making contact and selling your book. Thanks.

PK HREZO said...

What a great thing to remember. I saw many writers doing this very thing at Mega Con and they lured my kids in with novelty items, then told me about their books. Holding a book in your hands is very enticing for buyers to buy, especially when the author is right there.

Love the premise for the book!!

Christina Lee said...

COOL post (and that book blurb!!!)!!

I like that you said wash and put away, too--the simple idea of that might slip by people. :D

Cynthia said...

A man vs. nature story....how cool!

The idea that I could promote my book (someday, because I'm unpublished) at a fair or festival never occurred to me. Great tip!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I've never done a festival on my own, but there are plenty of them in my area.

Unknown said...

What a wonderful tip! I used to live in New York, and the NY and CT area had the best festivals and fairs! I really miss living there. Good luck with your new book, Sandy!

Carrie Ann Pearson said...

Great ideas, Sandy. I'm sure your infectious smile and positive vibe lure festival and fair attendees right in! Your book is next in line on my nightstand :)

Unknown said...

These are fantastic tips to keep in mind when I get to the promoting stage. Thank you for sharing Natalie :)