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?

32 Marketing Ideas to Promote Your Book

“People are in such a hurry to launch their product or business that they seldom look at marketing from a bird’s eye view and they don’t create a systematic plan.” —Dave Ramsey

Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at
Image courtesy of KROMKRATHOG at

I’ve pursued many of these marketing activities for Calculated Risk. Decide which you have time for, would enjoy, and can afford.

For any of these ideas, search online for help on how to do the activities well and for testimonies on their effectiveness.

Marketing Ideas


1.  “About Content” – Update the content about you on all your social networks. Include interesting tidbits about your book.

2.  ACFW Fiction Finder – Check requirements to add your title to this American Christian Fiction Writers listing for people looking for fiction.

3.  Ads – Join multiple authors in magazine ads. Newspaper ads for author events. Some blogs will display your cover in sidebars.

4.  Amazon Author Central – Set up an account and author page.

Image courtesy of bplanet at
Image courtesy of bplanet at

5.  Announcements – Build email lists now. Send your promotion postcards to readers and libraries.

6.  Audience Analysis – Define your audience and where members gather. Join their online groups and build relationships.

7.  Blog – Post regularly. Display your book cover on the sidebar. Publish book-related posts around your release date. Guest-blog on others’ blogs.

8.  Blog Tours – Find bloggers willing to host you during a set period.

9.  Book Clubs – Include a website tab. Offer free bookplates to groups that discuss your book. Offer to attend meetings through phone or Skype.

10.  Book Launch Party – Plan a celebration at a local bookstore or a community center.

11.  Book Signing – Hand out bookmarks. Join multi-author signings.

12.  Book Trailer – Put your trailer on your website and other sites, such as Amazon’s Author Central.

13.  Drawings – Hold drawings for a book or basket of book-related items at book signings and local businesses.

Image courtesy of digitalart at
Image courtesy of digitalart at

14.  Conferences – Offer books at the center’s bookstore. Leave book promotional materials on appropriate tables. Build relationships.

15.  Contests – Enter respected contests. Winners can add “award-winning author” to their bio. Runner-ups can mention that fact.

16.  Consignments – Approach local gift shops to sell your books on consignment.

17.  Email Addresses – Collect them on drawing entry forms or in your guestbook at author events. Ask participants to subscribe to your newsletter.

18.  Endorsements – Include them on your website’s Book Page, promotional materials, press releases, and author pages.

19.  Excerpts – Choose book excerpts for your website, interviews, and speaking events.

20.  Facebook Author Page – Post regularly. Share book news.

by MrMagic
by MrMagic

21.  Festivals, Fairs, and Craft Shows – Set up a book table and chat with people.

22. Goodreads – Hold book giveaways. Participate in Goodreads groups.

23.  Influencers – Gather people to read your advance reader copies, write honest reviews, and promote your book on their social networks.

24.  Interviews – Obtain interviews on blogs, websites, and other media.

Image courtesy of chanpipat at
Image courtesy of chanpipat at

25. Library Events – Contact local libraries and plan fun meet-the-author events.

26.  Newsletter – Produce a newsletter periodically with content exclusively for subscribers.

27.  Press Release – Send releases to local newspapers and the content to library and bookstore coordinators for your events.

28.  Promotional Materials – Order bookmarks, business cards, postcards, posters, car magnets, banners, and book-related giveaways.

29.  Reviewers – Request book reviews from bloggers and professionals who write reviews.

30.  Speaking Engagements – Prepare talks to use for various types of events.

31.  Virtual Parties – Host an online party with book-related blurbs and giveaways.

32.  Website – Maintain a quality, updated website.

Peruse these marketing ideas & start promoting your upcoming book now. Click to tweet.

Add to the list. What are other marketing ideas?

Calculated Risk by Zoe M. McCarthyHere’s a plug for a marketing idea my publisher is doing: 

For the entire season of Lent, all e-books in the Pelican Book Group store are free. Yes, free–all e-books in the catalogue–from 18 Feb to 2 April. Calculated Risk is included in this promotion.