Sunday, November 06, 2011

The Benefit of Selling at Craft Fairs

As we all know, brick-and-mortar stores are only one option for selling books. Certainly, they’re necessary and obvious choices, but have you also considered selling at Christmas craft fairs? Pretty much every community has one, whether through recreational centers, churches, or other organizations. Did you know that high schools in your area are probably also hosting craft fairs? There are at least four in my community alone. While they might not attract huge numbers of customers, they can be quite lucrative, and at the very least a terrific marketing tool.

The two most attractive aspects of selling through high schools are the low fee: $30. on average, which is far less expensive than the fees charged by community centers. The other benefit is that the fee is used for worthwhile fundraising events, which can include after grad parties. If you have teenagers, you’ll know the cost involved in your child’s graduation year. This is a great way to help the schools and kids in your community.

The other great thing about craft fairs is that customers come with cash in their pockets, intending to start their Christmas shopping. Experienced customers (and many of them are) now that Visa or debit cards aren’t an option, so as long as you bring a decent float with lots of coin and small bills, you’re good to go.

I participated in my first craft fair of the season yesterday, and it was well worth it. Not only did I meet a lot of people who were interested in my books, but I received tips from other crafters about other fairs to try. Preparation for attending a craft fair is similar to many writing events. You need business cards, an info sheet about your books, bookmarks or postcards to hand out (two customers asked if my books were available on Kindle, so I gave them bookmarks or postcards). If you have more than one book in a series, it’s a good idea to gift wrap a signed set of two. Half of my customers were buying for someone else and appreciated not having to bother with wrapping.

Now, before you rush out and apply, keep in mind that not all fairs are run the same. The more established fairs have a jury to decide which crafts to admit or not. Not every fair accepts books and, even if they do, some will only consider self-published books. If your book is traditionally published and available in stores, it might not be suitable for all fairs. If you want to be welcomed back, abide by the rules! Also, apply early. These events are run by parent volunteers who start in February or March for the following school year. Happily, you do not have to have a child attending that school in order to participate, and many do ask for a donation of your product for their raffle.

Yesterday’s event at Terry Fox Secondary was terrific. Not only was it well organized, but there were plenty of wonderful student volunteers to watch tables if we needed a quick break, help cart supplies in from vehicles, or to answer questions. We were even given a complimentary lunch and applications for next year. 50/50 draws were also available, and I have to say that it was a good time. I have three more fairs to go. By the end, a lot more people will know about this local author than they would if I had simply stood in a book store to greet people.

THE OPPOSITE OF DARK, now available for iphones, iPads, and iPodTouch at Also available in paperback at

1 comment:

Sarah Allen said...

Ooh, very good idea! I'll have to look into that sometime in the future.

Sarah Allen
(my creative writing blog)