Smaller book festivals are notoriously hit or miss. Same with readings, workshops, or bookstore events.
I was part of a book festival planning committee and I wish I could guarantee X number of attendees that would make everyone happy. I wish I could guarantee every exhibitor $X in book sales. But I can’t tell you what people want to do with their Saturday. Maybe it’s the first sunny, warm-ish fall day in more than a week. Maybe people are mowing their lawns for the final time of the year. Maybe they are going to the apple orchard. Maybe they want to stay home and watch college football. Who knows? You just throw a date out there , promote, promote, promote, and hope that people want to attend.
I have attended many festivals, readings, workshops, and events in the five years since my memoir came out. Sometimes the audience is of a decent size, and sometimes no one shows up. But I believe you can always put a positive spin on those days when no one shows up.
If my goal is to sell X number of books at these events, I’m going to be disappointed. I have to go in with low expectations. I should prepare to sell no books. That way if I do sell a few, I’m pleasantly surprised.
Make these events about more than books sales. For example…
* Relish the fact that you have a book, and you’re at a book event. Think back to your pre-book self — how thrilled would you have been to know you’d have a book published? That you’d hold it between your hands? That you’d have something to sell? Your pre-book self would not even believe how far you’ve come!
* You get to talk to fellow authors and readers. Maybe they won’t buy your book, but you get to have some intelligent conversations about reading and writing. There could be worse ways to spend a day, right?
* You get a chance to network with others. You can find potential collaborators, potential for book clubs and writing groups, advice on publishing, or you might meet someone that you have something else in common with — yoga, knitting, cooking, etc. You might connect with others who are interested in bringing you to their library, community center, or book club for a presentation. Keep your mind and eyes open, and a new best friend might be right in front of you.
At the Deep Valley Book Festival on Saturday, I sold three books over six hours. But I also got to hang out with the women from my writing group — we rarely get to spend so much uninterrupted time together. It was a great way to reconnect. I met a lot of new writers and engaged in fun conversations. I left that day exhausted, but fulfilled as I lugged my books back to my car — I was not disappointed in the least.
Look for me at the next book festival, reading, workshop, etc. — I will always be happy to sign up!