Sunday, December 12, 2010

Are Christmas Craft Fairs Profitable for Book Selling?

Over the past few days, I sold my mystery novels at two different Christmas craft fairs. In the past, my day jobs—always involving weekend shifts—kept me from participating, but self-employment has provided more selling opportunities. I’d heard mixed reviews from other writers who’d sold fiction and nonfiction at Christmas fairs, so I was curious to experiment.

The first event was hosted by my local fitness center for members, so it wasn’t advertised. The fair was five days long. I split the cost of a table, and was able to come and go as I pleased. This was a real communal effort from sellers, where everyone looked out for one another’s table so we wouldn’t have to stay all day.

Because Taxed to Death and Fatal Encryption both feature the adventures of tax auditor, Alex Bellamy, I wrapped some of them in cellophane with a ribbon and bow, and sold them as an autographed set at a discounted price. I discovered, though, that just as many people bought unwrapped sets for personalized signing. In the end, I made over $250 in profit, and sold more books than I thought I would for a center with only 150 members. The best part was that I received some good tips about future craft fairs for next year, and chatted with a lot of people I didn’t normally see.

The second event was the first Christmas artisan fair hosted by a local cultural center to tie in with a tree lighting ceremony. The fair was only four hours long and, again, I split the cost of a table. Although there were many people at the ceremony, we estimate that only 150 attendees made the trek across the parking lot and into the building to look at crafts and warm up from the cold. Still, I made a little profit and had the most interesting conversations with all types of people. I’m going to try new venues next year and see how it goes. If you’d like to try selling at Christmas craft fairs, here are some tips:

. Book well in advance for the popular ones. I have to book now for some of next year’s events.
. Don’t book a table that costs over $100, and split the cost with another writer.
. Presentation is important. A festive table cloth, some gift-wrapped books, and promo materials will help draw people to your table.
. Talk to people. You learn all sorts of things.
. Have a large enough float to make change. Bank machines spit out twenties, and that’s what people carry.
. Accept checks. Not everyone carries cash.
. Have fun. Going in with a positive attitude makes all the difference.

Good luck!

My Alex Bellamy mysteries can be purchased at

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