Are Book Fairs Dying?

Author Kim Hornsby joins Beach Read Authors today to comment on her recent trip to the ECWC Book Fair in the Seattle area last weekend. Take it away Kim...

Thanks BRA!
I did the Emerald City Writer's Convention Book Fair yesterday, as a new author, a scared author, and a fan of authors. I wasn’t sure what I was trying to accomplish except, like that crazed Glenn Close character in Fatal Attraction said, “I will not be ignored.”
I hate to be left out of any social gathering and so I registered to ‘sell’ my books at the book fair. This was my first year as a published author and this is my home RWA chapter. Yipee!
I ordered a load of books, not knowing if I'd sell any, made some pens, got The Wild Rose Press to donate a bunch of swag, had a big sign made that told the world I’m an Amazon Best Selling Author, and chose the color aqua for my signature shade, to go with my book cover.

I won’t pretend that I was excited. I was actually scared to go to the Westin Bellevue yesterday at 3 to sit at a table and hock my goods. I emailed my critique partner and writer bestie, Christine M. Fairchild and she promised to come sit with me.
Did I sell books? Not really. A few. Did I have a good time? Yes, I did. Was it good to get my name out there? I think so.
I gave out candy, pens and eventually books, got my pic taken with some wonderful authors, learned some marketing tricks from other authors (Dana Delamar, Kristyne Cayne, Ann Charles,
Cherry Adair, Susan Fox and on and on) and got through my first book fair.

Was it worth it? Kind of. I got some interest generated in my book by giving out cards with my URL and had a nice conversation with a Montlake acquisitions editor named Helen, who looked me up on her phone as soon as I introduced myself to her. (It’s a digital age) And getting your face out there never hurts. The thing is that I’m super friendly, kind of loudish and not shy, so I spent time away from my table (thanks Christine!) to schmooze and see what all the other authors were doing. Hi Rebecca J. Clarke! (I loved my table, but my hair looks a bit flattish in this pic!)
I did not see many books leave the room and I was close to the door so I could keep an eye on the comings and goings. I wonder if Barnes and Noble thought it was worth sponsoring the event. In past years, the Book Fair has been CRA-CRA busy and the lineup to check out would be thirty people deep, but not this year. There wasn’t even a huge lineup at the Superstars’ tables. Many ‘customers’ told me they read off their Kindle or phone, not print.
I sat there worrying about the future of the printed book. And the future of a Book Fair. Maybe in the future, instead of a book fair, conventions will have meet and greets where you can scan the code to download the book at the table while you talk to your author crush. Apparently autographs are big at book fairs. You line up and get your favorite author to sign the copy of your book that you already own. I saw a bit of this.
For me, I got to talk to two authors whose careers I’ve watched closely over the last year, Catherine Bybee (although when face to face with her, I had one of those brain farts and forgot her name!)
and Ann Charles, both of whom have risen to the top of the heap fast, if you consider the rest of us a heap.
And I got to thank Cherry Adair for helping me with my opening chapter when I did Finish the Damn Book and won a critique by the Best Selling Author and Pacific Northwest writing mentor to us newbies.
I made Cherry cry when she saw my book in print and told her how much I rely on her advice. Sorry. And I ended up giving her my PROOF copy, by mistake, I believe. Double sorry! God, I hope she doesn’t read the back page to see the word PROOF. Please, please, please.
Was it worth the money and time and effort of lugging around a hundred pounds of books and all the candy and pens? The jury is still out on that one. If I hear from Helen, I'd say yes. But, I’m not sure if I would do this book fair again as a new author, although it was mega- fun to be lumped in with a room full of successful romance authors and see how they work their magic.

What do you think, authors, readers? Is the Book Fair worth it anymore or will it evolve into something else soon?

Kim Hornsby is the Amazon Bestselling Author of The Dream Jumper's Promise and Necessary Detour, both romantic suspense novels and available on Amazon. She's also a former scuba diving instructor and once a professional jingle singer.


  1. It was great getting to meet you in person this weekend, Kim! I always have a blast at book signings. I handed out way more postcards (with QR codes) for my ebooks than I sold of print books, but there are still enough folks who love print that I think the effort is worth it. Besides, there's nothing like meeting your fans (or future fans) in person! :)

    1. You are so savvy about those codes and marketing! It was worth it just to see you in action, Dana!

  2. It's all good! You don't know how many people saw your book, met you; then went home and ordered it on their Kindle. That's what I'd do! You're an Amazon Best Selling Author for cryin' out loud! Your contacts and keeping your name out there is invaluable. As you've always told me ... "**** to the wind"!

  3. Well, it sounds like you had a good time, and yes, you did get your face out there. I have actually never had a successful book signing, but if you're at a book fair meeting other awesome authors, then it's a success, right? :) I think the cards with the QR codes are the wave of the future, and I had some made for my Vampire Diaries stories. And you know, you can autograph those! :) Thanks for sharing your experience.

    1. I agree! Gotta get me some of those QR codes. Dana Delamar does this whole business on top of being a best seller where she does all that for you. some people are just so clever! Thanks for commenting Alicia Dean, who actually plucked me out of the heap and gave me the reason to be an author!

    2. Aw, you were ripe for the plucking! :-) I actually managed to figure out how to create a QR code on my own, and I designed my post cards and got them for was all much easier than I thought. If you need help when you're ready, I'll try to help you stumble through.

  4. It was great meeting you! I'm looking forward to reading your book and to calling on you for diving advice when I get there in my next novel.

    My goal is usually to at least break even but more important, to get my books into readers' hands. It builds, as they say, one reader at a time.

    1. And you never know what can lead to a good thing! Great meeting you too Wendy. Fellow Canuck!

  5. It was so nice to see you briefly in person. :) I'm not a big bookfair fan. I went all out for my first one and sold 2 books. I did nothing but offer chocolate this year and sold 10. Go figure. It helps that I have more books out now, I suppose. If I wasn't shy by nature and an introvert, I'd probably enjoy them more. I don't really care for them as a reader either so... :)