Nearly every Friday morning, spring through fall, I sell herbs and plants at our local farmer’s market. Like many writers, I’m not especially brave at pushing my book so it took me awhile to realize I could use this venue with success. Here are a few tips I learned along the way:
• Browse your local farmer’s markets, and pick the one with the friendliest people. This is the market customers return to week after week and you’ll get to know them quickly. If they like your work, they’ll tell others and your sales will increase.
• Find the market manager, and ask how to apply for a space. You may need to fill out an application, get a vendor’s license, and pay a daily, weekly, or yearly fee. Note the day and time the market opens and closes so you can plan accordingly. If you are assigned a particular space, be sure you don’t hog someone else’s.
• Set up a tidy display. You do have to factor in the weather. Gusty winds and rainstorms don’t stop during marketing hours. Sheets of heavy plastic can often save your investment. Many sellers use a canopy or a large umbrella stuck in a coffee can of cement to keep their customers from wandering over to the neighbors. Bring a comfortable chair and a table. If you opt for a tablecloth, use one with elastic binding or clip weights around the edges. Queen Elizabeth had weights sewn into her skirt hems to keep the wind from exposing too much royalty.
• Consider handouts. People will pick up colorful bookmarks and/or business cards with your book covers printed on them. I write a monthly garden column for a free local magazine so I keep a stack of these beside my books, and hand them out to interested readers. Many people are delighted to meet an author from their own state and this is a wonderful way to network. This has resulted in me being interviewed, and being written up in the newspapers.
• Tie in your books with clever gimmicks to draw customers. The ubiquitous bowl of candy does little except deplete your pocket change, and encourage littering. So, if your novel is a Western, learn to twirl a lariat. If it’s a cookbook, hand out a favorite recipe. Books make unique gifts! Add a touch of humor with a sign reminding people how many days are left until Christmas. Since I also sell herbs, I point out that each chapter of “Mustang Girl” ends with an herbal remedy for ailments like cuts, bee stings, or indigestion. Often, the people who buy my book also purchase an herb.
• Select your method of payment. You can accept strictly cash or, if you have the app, you can use Venmo or Square for debit and credit cards. This helps with impulse and bulk purchases. People don’t tend to carry a lot of cash to farmer’s markets but, if they can depend on you being there next week, you may have a future sale if you only accept cash. I recommend accepting credit cards.
• Prepare for anything. Talking to potential customers is great fun, but also tiring. Bring water and snacks. You may need a jacket, sunglasses, and a hat. Find out if there is a restroom available. If not, don’t sip that second cup of coffee. It’ll be a long drive home!
• Be courteous and friendly to everyone. Help other marketers with their sales by pointing out and suggesting their products. “Just look at those peaches that Flo sells. The aroma is heavenly!” “Have you seen Ruth’s kitchen towels? She does her own crochet work!” The other vendors will often do the same for you! Offer to carry bags to the car for the elderly, those with many purchases, or those with young children. During slow times, visit the rest of the booths, and chat with the other sellers. Comment on their nice displays, and buy something that interests you. Be the kind of neighbor you would like to have.
- Sell Your Kids’ Book to Schools! by Kate Williams – 02 2017
- Use Snapchat to Sell Your Book(s) or Writing Services to Millennials! by Joan Selby – 09 2016
- Go Back to School to Sell Your Story By Eric D. Goodman – 03 2009
- Color Outside the Lines to Sell Your Book By Jacquie McTaggart – 04 2004
- Can You (or Should You?!) Sell Your Self-Published Book to a Traditional Publisher? – 09 2010
Kay Flowers combined her love of words and forty years of working with horses into a compelling story about horse training and dealing with whatever life throws at you. “Mustang Girl” follows teenage Corky as she trains a wild horse and tames the emotional chaos of her own life. The author has had articles published in magazines such as Horse and Rider, Hunter and Sport Horse, and Arabian Horse World. Check out Mustang Girl on her publisher’s website, BookLocker.com! It’s also available on Amazon, and many other sites around the globe.