As a novice to the whole book festival scene and not knowing what to expect, I decided to dip my toe in and take it steady. My first job was to do a spot of research locally. I attended the Lowdham Book Festival one Saturday afternoon in June to take a look at what they had to offer. Over the period of a week they had a range of events, readings and book fairs happening. I chose to attend the book fair. It was good to see the variety of things on offer, from second hand stalls and local businesses as well as one or two local authors. It was also here that I finally got to meet Sara who I had been liaising with for the Newark Book Festival too. Other familiar faces also popped up as well (Jane from The Bookcase and Ross from Five Leaves to name but two). A great little activity they had put together for the children was to go in search for some snails in the park next to the venue. Great excuse for a tweet and a mention on Instagram I thought!
I took notes from this research visit and went away and prepped myself. This meant spending quite a while putting together the first bits of merchandise (in the form of 4 different keyrings), selecting images to print and mounting them along with different messages onto display boards. I also decided from what I had seen at the Lowdham event, that I wanted an activity for the children to do, so created cards for them to colour in and draw on (for the best mummy or best daddy in the world). I thought carefully about how I wanted to present things and found a charming snail planter that was perfect to showcase the keyrings and used plant pots to hold colouring pencils and felt tips.
I also wanted to offer the option for potential customers to pay using a credit card so looked into options here. There are various options but the best one for me was the iZettle card reader and linked app. It was a relatively cost efficient method of making it easier for people to buy my products. As a result of this I also needed to advertise this fact on my stall too.
The day of the Newark Festival came and we packed the car up with all the elements of the display, my iZettle and of course the books and keyrings. As I had prepped everything it didn’t take long to set up so it gave me chance to wander around the stalls at the Newark Book Fest. This appeared bigger than the Lowdham Festival and there were a number of other self-published authors as well as a number of other stalls. It was a very hot Sunday. The lady on the stall next to me (who was very friendly and ran an Usbourne Books stall) said she had had a stall on the previous day and it was quite busy as this was run alongside the normal market day. It was unfortunate that it was significantly quieter though on the Sunday. I took the time to take a wander around (my other half also came with me to help man the stall).
What was the message I wanted to get out there? Here was my first learning point. Nowhere on the stall did I actually advertise that I was the author and was offering to sign books! Other authors had prominent signs saying they were offering signed copies. Oops.
Nevertheless, I still made a few sales (and equalled others there) but it was more about getting my name out. So onwards and upwards with my next promotional project; Nottingham Pride.
With help from links at 200 Degrees Roast House, I have managed to bag a pop up stall outside their Flying Horse Walk coffee house on the morning of the Pride March in Nottingham. So rainbow flags have been bought, further promotional materials have been produced and now the stage is set to take on Pride. I will inform you how I get on in my next blog.