Search This Blog

The Magic of Cross-Promotion How To Do It Frugally Style

A Retrospective of the Doings at the LA Times Festival of Books

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Stuff to Know Before the Book Fair...

...or Preparations Before the Fair.

Here is what you'll need and a few directions and helps:

Those who are signing at our booth, please take the time to read this all the way through. There is lots here that can make a difference to you. If you still have questions after reading through, highlighting, and absorbing, please ask questions on this blog by using the comment feature. That way we can ALL benefit from them. Also, everyone feel free to chime in with a comment, to exchange ideas and to give help according to your expertise. (-:

To park go to the LA Times Festival of Books website ( and look at the campus map. Park in the #3 structure, near Sunset and Hilgaard. You will find people there who will help direct you to our booths, #610and 611. Parking is $8. Follow parking directions to the letter. Tickets are expensive.

Bring your books for sale and be prepared to take extras back to the car if you have more left than what you can carry. We can't store backstock of books for everyone. There is just not enough room and we try to keep a tidy booth.

If your poster does not arrive in the mail on Friday before the fair, it most likely will not get posted. These posters go up at 6 am on Saturday morning--or before.

It is best to use something that rolls to bring your books and display material for your table.

You will need:

-Change for cash sales.
-A Visa machine set up if you take credit cards (not necessary)
-A resale license (it can be temporary). You probably won't need it but you should have one anyway.
-Decide whether you want to take checks. I do. I don't take credit cards, though. That's because I don't sell many books myself but go through wholesalers and distributors.
-A box for your money/checks, etc. I use my pockets. Not too classy but very fast.
-The signs you put out on the table for special offers, the price of your books, if you have an award and want it to be evident, etc. We provide the signs that say our customers get a free book with a purchase of a book, while supplies last.
-Stands for your books and/or other display aids like inexpensive card holders. Try Michael's or Staples.
-You may want to pack a lunch, depending on your schedule.
-Wear warm shoes in case it is cold or rains. The booths are on the grass and feet can get cold.
-Dress professionally or in a way that will market your title or brand yourself. Color works well if you want to attract the visual media. Also, you will be filmed by Rey Ybarra for Authors' Coalition videos.
-Arrive at least 15 minutes before your allotted time. There is some trade-time between authors.
-Make your reservations for your personal video with Rey Ybarra if you wish. To reserve your own special time ($99.) e-mail him at
-Plan to be at the booth each day at 4 pm for some video footage that Rey will shoot for Authors' Coalition. These videos will be available to everyone who is participating to use for promotion. You will want to be on them!
~A guest book if you wish. Keep collecting names for your contact list.
~A good signing pen. Several others for backup.

I can't be specific about how many books you will need. It depends on your title, how old the title is, how you promoted your signing beforehand, how well you relate to the crowds walking by the booth and the people who come into the booth, how expensive your book is. The free book with purchase offer will help you close a sale. Beyond that, I have seen a book priced at $50 sell two books. I have seen authors sell as many as 40 books in an hour. Bring what you think you can sell. Stow extras in your car (always a good idea). Bring a friend to help you run to the car if you need to and help in other ways. And, in the meantime, promote, promote, promote! Keep in mind,though, that this fair is HUGE. It attracts 135,000 visitors including Hollywood types.

You may also wish to take advantage of the great free seminars offered by the fair. There are dozens and some are presented by famous authors. Others are valuable panels.

You may sell your books before and after your allotted time but we do ask that you step outside of the booth to do so. Those who are signing will want to be seen and if you crowd around you will limit visiblity. You may also want to discreetly pass out fliers before your signing time and/or post them in lavatories, etc. Note the word discreetly. If you are asked to desist, do so politely.

Please plan to send out invitations if you have not already done so and e-mail reminders one or two days before your signing date. Don't forget your media releases to your local press/TV/radio. You could even call your local reporters and invite them. Even send personal invitations to them.

If you haven't heard from me, that means I do not have your materials for display. Display means the bookshelves that show your books when you are not signing. That is where we put your order forms, books, and bookmarks. You may have some of those materials on your table when you sign, of course!!

Give yourself time and a small budget to browse and to buy the books of others. If authors don't buy books, how can we expect others to buy ours?

Note that Rey and Randy (TV host and cameraman) will be in and out of the booth filming. This will attract traffic. It is up to YOU to utilize it well. I. E., strike up conversations with those standing about looking.

Also note this is a cross-promotional effort. When you have sold a book (say to someone you have invited to the fair), introduce them to your table mate and/or suggest one of the other books in the booth. When you first sit down, take a minute to learn something about your table partner. Early in the day, browse the other books on display.

Use the booth and the entire fair to network. You will be evaluating your experience not on sales but on many intangibles. Leads. Contacts. Opportunity to contact those who can help you in the future (editors, publishers, readers, etc.). Learning new promotion techniques from your fellows. I. E. fairs are opportunities for you get more exposure and to build relationships. Also keep in mind, many who don't buy your book will go straight home and buy at a discount on Amazon. I recommend that you let them. I don't think it is a good idea to sell your own work at a discount. It competes against your bookstores (not really ethical) and it diminishes the value of your work. That is one of the reasons we offer the free book with purchase.


Blogging by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, founder of Authors' Coalition ( Learn more at both the AC site and Carolyn's website, and her blogs:

1 comment:

  1. Ok, here's a question: How much money (and what denominations of coins and bills) should we bring in our cash boxes to make change for our book sales? Does anyone have a ballpark suggestion from prior experience?


Please share your promotion ideas with others. Ask questions, too. Here is good place for authors to help authors.