Recently, I had the pleasure of attending my first Art Market with my new publisher, Mirror World Publishing. I looked forward with anticipation to the throngs of new readers I would meet there. I had my bucket of candy good to go. I had signed postcards and trading cards lined up across our table. I had my Sharpie® marker at my side, ready to sign the copious amount of books I’d sell. And I had Justine, my trusty publisher by my side to introduce me to the world. Um. Yeah. Cue the crickets. What I found out was Art Markets and Craft Shows are not for the faint of heart and may not be the best venue for authors. However, NEVER underestimate the power of connecting with future readers, and getting the word out about your books and products.
Below are six simple tips I picked up from ‘working it’ on the blacktop during those two days at the local Art Market:
1. Usually potential customers (a.k.a. readers) are lured to tables when they see books. That’s a no-brainer. Make sure you have an eye-catching banner running across the length of your table and that your books are strategically placed in stands (you can purchase these at any dollar store) and positioned together in the same genres.
2. Engage readers immediately and ask them what genre they like to read. Then, go for the sweet spot and ask them the names of their favorite authors. Since my publisher had an array of books and authors of different genres splashed across the table, we had a better chance at filling the readers’ literary needs. For example some liked fantasy, others were avid young adult fans, so we steered them toward the appropriate section. FYI – two of the most popular genres were mysteries and historical fiction. I think Justine made a note of that!
3. Next, ask the reader what book covers hook them. You’d really be surprised at their answers. A group of gray-haired women loved to read blood and guts (still laughing about that), yet my cover for Legend of the Timekeepers—the prequel to my time travel series—scared the hell out of one of them! They ended up buying one of the darkest books we had on stock. *Head desk.
4. If children or teens are in tow, move to the front of the table and go for the candy. They’re already staring at the jar, so why not offer something that they love! Just make sure their parents are on board. Even adults love candy, so go with your gut and offer them a sweet temptation.
5. The elements of nature can be a loving force or a force to be reckoned with. Be prepared for anything. My publisher brought a drop sheet in case it rained, but when the wind kicked up we had to hold onto the tent for dear life! Thankfully a kind vendor across from our table loaned us a couple of cinder blocks to batten down the hatches!
6. Finally, never ignore anyone, and always end conversations on a positive note whether they purchase a book or not. Hand them a brochure on your products or a signed postcard along with a smile. You never know. They might just buy your book at later date!
So there you have it! My six tips based on my first experience working at an Art Market. If you’re an author who loves doing the Art Markets or Craft Shows what tips can you add? If you’re a reader—what book covers pop for you? What covers scare you? Would love to read your comments! Cheers!