The weekend was devoted to a huge Renaissance Festival, where I was ensconced at a table to sign books. It seemed to me that at a place where people gather who love history would be a good venue for publicizing MACBETH'S NIECE. I was both right and wrong.
Of course, it rained first thing. Hard. My "signage", as the manager called it, was destroyed as I spent my time on protecting the more valuable books I'd set out. (My hair we won't even mention.) Around noon the rain cleared, and the rest of the weekend was fine, weather-wise. The Festival was wondrous, with all sorts of fun things going on all around me. The selling thing was, well, just so-so. If I do it again, and I have been invited to, I will not spend all day but have a specific signing time, hopefully the last few hours of the day, knowing that most people don't want to carry a book around with them as they enjoy the sights.
I learned early on that the advice my writer friends have given me is correct.
FIRST: Don't sit behind the table. People walk right past like you aren't even there. I walked up to anyone who looked like a good candidate (females who looked like readers. Don't ask, I can't verbalize how they look, but I sort of get a vibe.) I honed my approach over time, figuring out that "Would you like a bookmark?" was good but not best. I ended up with "Would you like a bookmark of my new novel?" so that people got that I was the author. (Before that they kept asking, "Is the book any good?")
SECOND: Don't plan on people flocking to you just because you're a writer. In fact, the opposite may occur as they fear you are somehow going to glom onto them and make them buy a book. To counter this, I made a HUGE sign that said, "Will Shakespeare is a big, fat liar." That brought people over, some indignant, some curious, but at least I could speak to them and explain the joke and, of course, the book.
THIRD: Don't expect a sale right then. Yes, some listen, say "Oh, that's my sort of thing," and shell out the cash right away, but there aren't many of those, especially at a Festival where t-shirts, goblets, and even mini-catapults compete for their coin. So I handed out bookmarks: something convenient to stick into purse or pocket and hopefully come across later. One hopes for the "Oh, yeah, she was a nice lady and the book sounds good," response when that happens.
FINALLY: Count marketing opportunities, not sales. The Festival charged me a percentage of sales, and they were very accommodating, so even though it was a lot of time invested, I didn't lose any money. As the weekend progressed I met one woman who'd actually read a review of the book, one who was the book buyer for a very large city's library system, and literally hundreds of people who walked away with the title and my name in some corner of their minds. These people were from everywhere: California, New York, even Canada. They now have the bookmark, which has my website and info on where to buy MACBETH'S NIECE. And if one-third of them mention the book (or meeting an author) to someone else...
So don't ask me how many books I sold. Ask me if I had a good time.