I haven't had a lot of experience selling my handmade books at shows. In fact, I've only done three: two short evening shows that lasted about three hours each, and Glitterfest last March. At the first show I was pretty much flying blind. When people stopped at my table and looked over my books I started chatting away, telling them that I incorporated a lot of authentic vintage and antique elements, such as cabinet cards, tin types, ledger pages and other bits of ephemera.
People seemed interested and I think it helped sell at least a couple of books. It also led to some great conversations about history and appreciating old, beautiful things.
At the Glitterfest show, which was an all-day event, I learned much more.
I had gone to the previous fall show with a friend to check out the vendors and the venue. I probably should have paid more attention to the attendees to see who they were and what they were buying.
After that happened a number of times it dawned on me that maybe the books were a little too blank for some. Even I'm intimidated by a big, white page at times. Obviously I'm not going to sell journals that are already filled, but including some printed or decorated pages probably would have been a good idea.
I also made a mental note to make more themed books, such as travel journals and recipe books, and to display some of my own finished books.
One thing paid off: offering non-book items, like hand-dyed ribbon, fabric-covered magnets and ephemera kits. Those were popular and attracted some non-book people. I shared a table with my friend Jan Lindstrom, an amazingly talented jewelry designer. Those are her pieces above. We collaborated on miniature book necklaces--I made the book and she made the necklace. We sold out of those pretty quickly!
Books are unlike other items usually featured at craft shows in that they're not really finished. Jewelry is ready to wear, tote bags are just need to be filled, but books require the buyer to add his or her own talent and creativity to them. Lesson learned, and I can't wait for the next show.
What have you learned from selling at shows? I'd love to know about your experiences!