Thursday, July 20, 2017

FESTIVAL ON THE SQUARE - MARKETING - AND WAYS TO GET THE WORD OUT

A couple of weeks ago the Clay County Arts andHistorical Council held the annual Festival on the Square. In the center of our little town is a large beautiful brick courthouse built over 100 years ago.

On the grounds of the court house which is no longer used as a courthouse, vendors set up every year, on the weekend following July 4th, and thousands of people pour into town and onto the grounds. Fine crafts and handmade art of all kinds are sold in the small tents on the 10 x 10 spaces allowed. For many years there were no literary arts booths, but a few years ago the NC Writers’ Network West, our mountain program for writers, was allowed to be the only book sellers on the square for the festival.

This year Deanna Klingel, author from Sapphire NC, took the responsibility of putting up the canopy with forty pound weights on each pole so it would not blow away if we had a wind storm. Deanna is a writer of children’s books and she makes many kids happy when she calls them over to look at the books on the table in front of her. I think there is a bit of jealousy from other writers who don’t have her knack for selling books, but I admire a good marketer. After all, if you can’t sell your books in today’s market, you might not be in the writing business. 


Carolyn Frazier and Bob Grove in front with Deanna in pink strip and me with blue around my neck.
Deanna made table covers with skirts that looked professional and gave our booth some extra pizzazz that brought in passersby. She and her husband, Dave, brought tables and chairs for the booth and she brought copies of all her books. 

I sat in the booth to give out info on NCWN West and Writers Circle on Sunday afternoon. It was hotter than I can remember and I have to accept that I can’t do that anymore. I was no help in taking down the booth because simply taking my own things and my chair back to my car did me in. I was in terrible pain by the time I arrived home, and I suffered for three days afterward with my back.

This might have been our last booth at the festival on the square. We don’t have enough interest from members to make it worth the labor involved. None of us are young and energetic and the heat saps our energy. This would be a great experience for younger people, maybe a few men who don’t mind setting up and taking down the tent and loading everything in the cars. Outgoing writers who engage with the public could sell books and find new readers, but shy or introverted writers find this experience unpleasant.

My purpose for the booth at the festival is to make the public aware of our writing community in this region. We always find interested people who give us their contact information so I can put them on our email list. We send out newsletters and event announcements and those on the email list receive them. In time, many of them join us.

Perhaps because I lived with a salesman for 45 years and had a brother who was the best salesman ever, I have a good understanding of marketing. I understand that no one just comes to your door and asks for your books. If the public doesn’t know what you have that they want, how can they order your book online? Your family and friends will probably buy your book, but then the sales stop.

One of the authors in the booth was Bob Brooks fromBrevard. He said that any chance to connect with the public, even if a book is not sold at the time, helps the author down the road. Sometimes the success of marketing is not seen at the time, but comes later when a reader who has taken your card at the festival orders your book online.

Deanna says she always sees a rise in online sales a few days after her appearance at a public event.  Too bad most writers close their eyes to the need for successful marketing.

Some writers don’t want to market their books and don’t care if they sell a single copy. That is fine. But their publishers usually want them to sell books. After all, the publisher needs to make money in order to stay in business.
Marketing is the part of the writing business that most authors dislike, but if they plan to stay in the writing business, they should learn how to market their work.

Tara Lynne Groth will teach a class at Writers Circle on August 5, 1 - 4 p.m. on using a newsletter to reach your readers, your audience. This way writers can sit at home and promote their books. Readers don't buy books because they want to do something nice for an author they don't know. They buy books because the author has something to offer them. They buy books because they see the book or the author or hear from the author who wants to share something with them -- her book. 



3 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

I am sorry to hear that the heat and your back did you in. And sympathise. I turn into a troll in summer and do my best to only come out at night (or very, very early). Self preservation (and protection of others). Heat turns me into a sad, sore, soggy and grumpy mess.
And yes, marketing is like so many things, the effort put in often pays delayed dividends. No effort? No dividend.

Glenda Council Beall said...

Thanks, EC. The heat this summer has been awful and has kept me a prisoner in my own home. I don't know how anyone lives through it without AC. I think my autoimmune illnesses make it worse. Two friends with MS say the heat is very hard on them, just as it is with you.
But aren't you having winter downunder?

Elephant's Child said...

I am indeed in winter. Revelling in it - and dreading the warmer months (the sweaty season) ahead.