Is a vendor booth at an event a good idea? Depends on your goals – and the event!
So a couple weeks ago, my husband and I happened to be passing through Coolidge, Arizona, a tiny town about 60 miles southeast of Phoenix. By luck or happenstance, the weekend we were there, the town was holding Coolidge Days. After the fact, I looked it up and found this flyer:
Since we were there on Sunday, it seems we missed the exciting things … like the pancake breakfast, the horseshoe tournament, and the PARADE! We didn’t see many cars of any sort, let alone of the car show variety, and we were gone well before the volleyball tournament got underway. What we saw was, well, somewhat sad.
We had good frybread – again, more by luck than planning, I think. And there was live music that wasn’t bad – especially if you like (or don’t mind) the “here’s how Jesus saved my life” commentary between each song.
I bought an incense holder, a birdhouse Christmas tree ornament, and a pair of earrings for $5 at one booth, and we were pretty much ready to leave Coolidge Days behind us. Then, a man approached us and asked a simple question: “Are you book readers?”
Um – yes. Yes, we are.
I indicated as much and asked him why. He’s an author, and he had a booth we had completely ignored because it had no signage and nothing to indicate what it was or why we should visit. Now, in this man’s defense, Sunday was a W-I-N-D-Y day. The tarps on every booth were flapping and flailing like crazed Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. So Dustin – it turns out the man’s name is Dustin Hall – explained that he was a new author and had his book, Waking the Beast, for sale. His partner also informed us that their booth had been well appointed the prior two days of the festival – the wind on Sunday had just made it impossible to keep the banner secured or anything on the table upright on the day we happened by.
So, we bought the book. It still sits on my side table, right where I left it when I walked in the door that evening. I’m reading another local author’s book right now, but may give Dustin’s a crack when I finish that one. No promises, because it’s really not my genre – but it is my husband’s! Here’s the most amazing part, though. I asked Dustin how he’d done, in terms of sales, and he told me he’d sold about 50 copies over the course of the weekend. I don’t know what his printing cost was, but at $15/book, he still did pretty well, especially since the booth rental was only $75 for the entire weekend.
So here’s the takeaway. A 10’x10′ booth at the 2016 Tucson Festival of the Books is $710. Yep, there are 100,000+ in attendance, but you’re one author trying to make even a small splash inside a very big pond. From my perspective, an investment in an event like that has to be more about exposure and networking within the industry than about book sales. Will your budget support such a thing?
On the other hand, you can do what Dustin did and be the only author at a small event. And be willing to get out and talk with people. Not only did he sell 50 books, but he met me and I’m blogging about him and his book. And this blog post is going to get shared on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. Will it generate even one more sale? Possibly. Will it help with his exposure? Of course. And it may help his SEO because it will create a link back to his site.
One last thought: The Power of the Group. With whom can you partner to share an event booth and cut costs while you increase your exposure? Good partners might be other authors, musicians, speakers, coaches, or people with products in which your readers would have an interest. And while you’re partnering there, why not keep looking for other ways to leverage your connection? Events, PR, promo products, videos … the opportunities are only limited by your imagination.
Here’s to finding the great opportunities and capitalizing on them!
We welcome and encourage your thoughtful, courteous comments below.
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