The Book Fair at Crosby’s Civic Hall yesterday was actually much as I’d feared it might be: not enough footfall through the building, no need for the ridiculously early start and not a book sold. Having got there just after 8.30 we were not able to set-up until 10.300 for an 11.00 o’clock start. As normal, it only took ten minutes to set up. Ironically, we were long gone by the time the most promising crowd arrived. There was a children’s show on at 4.00, our finishing time. The audience would have been more likely to buy books on the way out that on the way in when there was too much anxiety about getting their seats.
I used to do craft fairs a lot and had similar experiences there.
There were some other irritations as well. We gave away a lot of free information, yet those people who were prepared to stop and chat for ages were not willing to buy a book and support an industry they claimed they wanted to be part of. Several people asked us how much we charged out authors for publishing their books. We are not vanity press. We do not help people to self-publish.
However, I still found it enjoyable. It’s possible that a book fair for independent publisher isn’t just about selling books. There was the opportunity to network with other publishers, put a few names to faces and actually make a few more connections with the general public. We pointed several people to our web site. Who knows what that might lead to. And we gained a fair number of new ideas from our competitors.
It also had one great advantage over the craft fairs I used to do: we didn’t have to pay a penny for having a stall there.