The Book Fair

Saturday was our city’s yearly book fair. I’ve participated every year for the last four (except last year, when I was away) but this was the first time I was there as a representative of our press collective, responsible not just for my own books, but two other authors’ promotion as well.

We did a lot of research and brainstorming about what we needed to have. Table space was limited, so we went with a stand-alone banner, ordered from an on-line print shot for a reasonable price. I’d put the logo together already, so we didn’t have to design it.

The banner, our table, and three authors.

Bookmarks with our current releases also seemed like a good idea – another online order – and brochures showing what’s available now and what’s available next year. So I made those, using MS Publisher, and printed them at our local print shop. Then we added a bowl of candies, posters advertising the launch of our newest release on November 3rd at our local indie bookstore and the prices of books – and hoped we’d got everything we needed.

As not everyone carries cash, we bought a Square reader, to take credit cards. Remarkably simple to use – and we needed it!  But also small bills – $5 and $10, to make change. A receipt book. Pens to sign books…..what are we forgetting?

OH!  Postcard-sized invitation cards for the book launch. Another MS Publisher production, printed at home.

A tablecloth! Arghhh…a last-minute dollar store purchase.

Books and the stand-up banner (in its case) go into a hockey bag, for easy movement. Everything else is in a tote box. I load up the car, and go to pick up one of the other authors. Her books should have been delivered for this fair, but print-on-demand turned out to be print-at-their-leisure, so we’ve been scrambling to promote the launch instead. She’ll bring a proof copy for people to look at, and vouchers for the book. The other author will meet us there.

Fast forward several hours. We’re tired, hoarse from talking, sore-footed from standing. But we’ve sold books in fair numbers, given out a lot of invitations to the book launch (we could have definitely sold several copies of this book, had they been there), and most of the bookmarks and brochures.

And, of course, several writers have wanted to know how our press collective works, and if they can join. So I explain they have to bring skills to the table, and it isn’t my decision alone. Some may pursue it; others won’t. Some just want advice and someone to talk to about their writing. I direct them to the man who runs the non-profit writers’ community in my town, and whose brainchild this book fair is. The support of Vocamus Writers’ Community has been instrumental in developing Arboretum Press, and supporting me and almost all the writers who are part of the collective.

And then I go home, unload the car, pour wine, and collapse onto the couch. To immediately begin thinking about next year. What could we have done better? Your thoughts, readers?