An Art Festival Recap

Mark Paxson

Over on my personal blog, I provided a broader recap of this than I will here. Two days ago, I participated for the first time in an art festival. I had booth that displayed, acrylic art, photography, and my books. I’m going to focus on the books here.

I had five books available for purchase. $10 for an autographed copy. Plenty of people glanced at them, or even picked up a book and read the blurb on the back. I also gave the thumbnail sketch of each book for people who lingered a little bit longer.

In the seven hours the festival ran, I sold about one book an hour. Or thereabouts. I haven’t looked at the actual numbers, but my memory suggests I sold six or seven books. If that was the only thing I was selling, it wouldn’t have been enough to pay the booth fee.

It wasn’t just me. The Elk Grove Writer’s Guild, of which I’m a member, had a booth also. They had different writers come in for two hour blocks to staff the booth and to sell their own books. The leader of the guild was there all day and had her books available. Towards the end of the day she told me she had sold only one book. I don’t know how the other writers did.

A booth next to me included a number of indie published childrens books. I don’t know exactly how many he sold, but I rarely saw anybody buying his books.

Maybe it’s because it was an arts festival, and not a book fair, that the books didn’t do very well. Or maybe it’s because people just don’t read as much as they used to. But after this experience, including the experience of other writers, I’m going to think twice about trying to sell books at an event like this.


  1. I participated in several Christmas craft fairs several years ago, and was happy to sell about 10 books overall. BUT I didn’t have to pay for the table because it was a group effort by my local writers’ society. Each of us put in a couple of hours and represented the society. That was before the pandemic and inflation; people are less inclined to buy things now.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. kingmidget says:

      There are just a lot of “lookers” at these things. Not many buyers.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are regional book fairs in my area that I’m thinking about getting into. Hopefully, they attract people who want to buy books!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. kingmidget says:

      I’d like to try a book fair at some point.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. chucklitka says:

    I have to confess that I haven’t been in a bookshop in, well, I can’t remember. A long time. But I suspect that potential buyers would feel more comfortable checking out a book if someone, especially the author, wasn’t watching them the whole time. So a booth might not be the best way to sell books. But then again, I wonder how many books an independent bookshop sells in a day. It certainly might be in single digits on some days. So six or seven, is probably a pretty good day. Still, when all is said and done, Amazon sells like 70% of the books in this country. That’s were you’ll find buyers.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. kingmidget says:

      It’s an uphill climb no matter what.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Marina Costa says:

    You were there, interacted with potential readers, and this is well. You probably connected with other writers as well. There are not many book buyers lately, unfortunately. But social presence counts too. I was in December at a national book fair, and only big publishing houses sold more. I will attend a small, local one on Sunday, too. I am sure I cannot sell much, but I will be there. Making yourself known involves this, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. kingmidget says:

      Yes … I got out there and made myself visible. I’m going to try to find a book-exclusive fair at some point and try that.

      Liked by 1 person

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