Things to Consider in Selling Your Book at Festivals & Flea Markets

But making money at fairs and shows isn’t as easy as it seems. It requires research, planning and the ability to keep a smile on your face while standing on your feet for long hours. And that’s not for everyone.— Rosalind Resnick

by Hans
by Hans

This spring, I took Calculated Risk, my inspirational contemporary romance, and my two books of Contemporary Christian short stories to festivals and a flea market. Consider these observations and experiences in your marketing plan.

by ClkerFreeVectorImages
by ClkerFreeVectorImages


1.  Music Festivals


•  If the primary draw is music, interest in any kind of vendor was much less than at flea markets I’ve attended. Attendees of music festivals come to listen and dance to the music.

by OpenCLipartVectors
by OpenCLipartVectors


•  Because of the folksy atmosphere of music festivals, readers and tourists who attend such functions tend to gravitate to books based on history, activities, or other subjects related to the area.


2.  Book Festivals


  • The first one I attended was part of a music festival. (See Music Festivals)
  • The second one assigned an author to each store on a quaint town’s Main Street.

•  I did better than the other authors. Why? I sat in the back of a friend’s art studio, where she was teaching an art class to children. The salesperson was to send back book-fest wanderers. All my sales came from the storeowner, salesperson, and the parents and grandparents of the children. None were part of the fest.

•  Long-term road construction outside of town hampered people in the golf community, the town’s main source of sales, from coming to the book fest.


by geralt
by geralt


3.  Flea Markets


•  Unlike music festivals, people who attend flea markets are looking specifically to spend money at vendor stalls.

•  Probably less than 10% of attendees are book lovers.

•  The local flea market had considerably less people flow through than any of the music festivals. Yet, I sold more books at the flea market than at any one festival.


4.  Success Can Be Something Other Than Sales


•  Book-related professionals seem to attend book festivals looking for authors. I met four.  

•  At a book and music festival, I received two author event invitations. One from a library representative, and one from a bookstore manager in a larger city.

•  At a book fest, a used bookstore owner invited me to stop by and talk to her. I will.

•  At the festivals, I met other authors, and we shared contact information. Often authors in the area will alert you to other opportunities.


5.  Book Sales & Expenses


•  Unless your book is based on history, activities, or other subjects related to the area or you’re a great salesperson, expect to sell few books.

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthy•  I sold more of my short story books than my romance novel, Calculated Risk. Possible reasons:

•  The short story books were less expensive.

•  The short stories appealed to people who don’t have the time to read novels.

•  Romance appeals to only a subset of mostly women.

•  The music festival in which I sold the fewest books charged $25. The others were less or free.

•  The music festivals required I bring a 10’x10’ canopy and table.

Before spending time or money on festivals & flea markets consider these things. Click to tweet.

What has been your experience in selling books at festival and flea markets?

7 Examples of Writing Great Word Pictures for Your Stories

“For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of the battle. It has the power to give grief or universality that lends it a youthful beauty.” —John Cheever

by geralt
by geralt

Sometimes a strong noun or verb is insufficient to evoke much in our readers. Word pictures take time to write, but if succinct, they bless readers’ experiences.

Word Pictures That Work


by Alexas-Fotos
by Alexas-Fotos

1.  “She strutted ahead, stabbed the wooden stairs with her spiked heels, and unlocked the front door.” Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes

“Stomped up the stairs” would’ve left out much about the woman with OCD.


2.  “Did she dare? She knew Aunt Nita wouldn’t begrudge her a piece of canvas. But painting again…could she recapture that girl who was willing to open her eyes wide enough to see past the boundaries of have-tos and shoulds and let color spill into something more than all the right places and shapes? Maybe it had been too long.” Wish You Were Here by Beth K. Vogt

This rewrite wouldn’t have captured the nostalgia: But could she paint again like the girl she used to be, one who didn’t follow all the rules?

by Gadini
by Gadini

3.  “There, in the shadows, stood our patio table set for two. She’d adorned it with a tablecloth and the silverware she only dragged out on holidays. Cloth napkins fanned out from empty wineglasses, which were paired beside crystal goblets of water. Candlelight flickered up from the center of the table and the iron sconces that hung on the brick wall behind us. Balmy night air wafted in through the screen, making the flames bend and bow.” Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes

Phrases like: “the good silverware;” “napkins were stuck in empty wineglasses next to goblets;” and “candles and wall sconces lit the area” would give setting descriptors. But they’d fail to set the mood or tell anything about the character’s wife.

4.  “As the sun sets, the cabin gets dark inside, too dark to read. He didn’t pay the electric bill again. I hope he pays it before Christmas or I won’t hear the songs on the radio.” Words” by Ginny Yttrup

I feel the loneliness of the child, and I don’t like her missing mother’s boyfriend.

by Ben_Kerckx
by Ben_Kerckx

5.  “Even the wind held its breath as the gathering of warriors stood solemnly around the altar at the stern of the ship. No part of the wooden deck was sheltered from the high sun burning unchallenged in a cloudless sky. The victory fire, renewed with faggots of oak and rowan, licked at them with hungry forked tongues.” Maire by Linda Windsor

I feel the heat!


6.  “Mother turned to Daddy and tried to smile, but it was little more than a ripple of sorrow passing over her lips.” Sweet Mercy by Ann Tatlock.

A fresh way to show a sad smile.

7.  “His smile was a slow lift of the lips.” There You’ll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones

Much better than: He smiled slowly.

Great word pictures like these evoke images and feelings in readers. Click to tweet.

How would you rewrite the following? The carousel took him back to another time.