Peddling Wares – An Idea

ImageOn my recent trip home from the grocery store, I drove past our in-progress county fair. The rides and food booths were situated along the chain link fence running along the road. As I tried to quickly take in the sights, a light bulb went off over my head.

We haven’t been to the fair since our son was young, but I enjoy the fair. I love the animals – all of them – even the smelly ones. Ahh! I almost forgot! We got our beloved dog, Joe, at the fair! Well, sort of. The people from the dog pound were there with dogs for adoption. All three of us decided that our shepherd at home needed a brother, so we picked out a black and tan coon hound with red ticking on his chest. Our son was excited and named him Ticker. When we went to the pound to get him the next day, there was a mix-up, and Ticker wasn’t there, he was back at the fair. But his brother was at the pound. He looked like Ticker, he seemed to like us, so we went with him. I named him Joe.

Back to the subject of the fair. The rides are ok, but we really like fair food, and one of my favorite thingsImage to do is walk through the commercial buildings where everyone peddles their wares. All of the home improvement gurus are there, the hot tub people, local businesses, craft people … there’s a lot going on. And we go through collecting cards, pens, advertising pieces, etc.  Some of it is useful; some of it is junk.

The light bulb over my head was a flash of an idea. A flash of a booth at the fair with posters of each of my book covers on the walls, print on demand copies of my books for sale on the table, bookmarks, and lots and lots of cards with my website for eReaders. I love this idea!

Of course, I had to tell hubby as soon as he came home from work. He didn’t share my enthusiasm. With a sideways glance and a frown he said, “It sounds like work.” A trade show. It sounded like working a trade show to him. Well, duh.

ImageI assured him it would be fun; it was the fair! And we would have fun together schmoozing with the locals. And the fair is full of old people during the day, and he LOVES old people (I’m six years older than he is), and old people love him, and old people would like my books.

I think I saw his shoulders slump.

“Next year, honey. Not this year. Next year. We’ll have fun,” I said as I walked out of the den. I think I heard a choice word under his breath. I’ll post pictures of him having fun in my booth next year when we go to the fair.

I’m sure this isn’t an original idea. I’d like to know if any of you have done this or something equivalent, and how did it go for you? I think it’s a good chance to get in front of a lot of people who read – both young and old. Someone tagged one of my books at Amazon as young adult. I never really thought about it, but the books are certainly not objectionable, and a young adult reader might enjoy them.

Also, about print on demand. When you want one copy of your book, or just a few, or quite a few for the fair, who do you use? I may want to print a few copies for Christmas gifts this year, but am uncertain where to turn. Recommendations are appreciated.


Baby Joe – home from the fair.

23 thoughts on “Peddling Wares – An Idea

  1. I think that’s a great idea! You could set up a fun little booth showcasing your books. And who doesn’t love the fair? 🙂

  2. I think the publicity part is a great idea, but not the print on demand. Think about your cost per page (paper and print cartridge), it adds up. Why not offer a special on ‘signed’ copies you already have and assist them in ordering hard and soft copies. Also, try to get some free publicity before you arrive; the fair promoters, local book club, etc. can advertise your presence.

    • Steven, at present, my books are only eBooks. I was thinking of having some copies printed ahead of time. I think I can have them printed and bound for around $10 each. Even if I sold them for a little less, it would go to my advertising budget and still be a good promotional item. I like the idea of the publicity ahead of time. Thanks for the input!

  3. Sounds feasible to me. The effectiveness would be trial and error, I suppose, but it would definitely be exposure to someone besides other authors. Is there a fee for setting up a booth at a county fair?

    Ron Herron has used CreateSpace, the Amazon POD service. I’ve checked it out but haven’t used it yet.

  4. It doesn’t sound like a profitable proposition. I’m trying right now to get copies of my book for about $5, which makes selling them at a profit a bit more possible. Hopefully I’ll have them soon.
    A booth at a major book fair is expensive, but maybe county fairs and other gatherings are easier to manage. Good luck.

    • Hi Bumba. The county fair is quite inexpensive. There’s a lot of time before the fair rolls around again next year, so I’ll have plenty of time to make an informed decision, but I like the idea of getting my books out in front of locals. There’s a lot to be said for word of mouth when it comes to books. Thanks for the good luck wishes. Hope your $5 venture works out for you.

  5. Am planning on using createspace to print mine for christmas pressies it also has the advantage of leaving the book available for other to buy easily via amazon aswell as the kindle option and gives you the IBN number free, the plus side of doing it next year is it gives you plenty of time to find good deals for bookmarks and other items such as cards, flyers etc, maybe you could see if your amazing artist could do you a life size cardboard susan to stand by the booth?

    • I looked at several sites, but glad to hear you’ve already decided on CreateSpace. That’s helpful. Oooh, what a fun idea for a life-size cardboard cutout. I always appreciate your creativity, Paula. 🙂

      • also was thinking that the pinkness of the booth is gonna attract lots of little girls (ie potential future readers) dragging mums along with them so why not if you can afford buy some cheap bottles of bubbles and print off Susan Hunter labels to give away to the kids so mummy gets chance to look longer

        • I swear, I’m going to start saving money now so I can invest in this project. What good ideas! Even if I didn’t make a lot of money on my books, I would have so much fun doing this. I read an article where one woman took her history book to the fair, and she sold 200 copies. There’s plenty of time to give this some thought and do it right. Thanks, Paula!

          • I think the main thing to aim for rather than hoping to make lots of money on the day is to make sure they go away with the name susan hunter stuck in their memory so if they don’t have spare cash on the day to buy a book they remember when they get home and look them up online and extra’s you sell on the day are a huge bonus, also worth finding out nearer the time if any other stalls have raffles or tombola’s that you could donate a book as a prize to then if people see someone walking round with one they will be curious themselves, hey maybe if the writing doesn’t work out for me i should think about a career in marketing or PR lol

            • You = marketing = no kidding! I’ve already thought that I wouldn’t have to print too many books because people wouldn’t want to carry a book around at a fair – even in a bag. I’d have to be sure to have enough inexpensive promo items with the name Susan Hunter and the website on them. I just had to go look up the word trombola! 🙂

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