Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Summer and Medieval Festivals: Promoting yourself?

Over the past couple blogs I had covered medieval, renaissance fairs that I had attended. These posts included the events I saw there, and some of the people I met. There was a comment put on my blog asking me how I promoted my book at one of these events? My response to this question is: To mind your own business and go bother someone else: JUST KIDDING.

This is actually a wonderful inquiry and opens up questions about who, and what we are as authors, and how far should we go to promote our books. I want to clarify I am speaking about going to a medieval faire or festival to attend that event, not renting a table or booth. When you rent a booth at an event, you are no longer an observer of that event, you are part of it, and so the rules change.

I must confess that I am not a professional writer. I have a very good career in government, and as a public servant, I have excellent security and a steady paycheck. My livelihood does not depend on how many books I sell, so my opinion might not be the same as someone who is a professional author depending on the sales of his or her books.

It is easy for me to comment about promoting a medieval novel at a renaissance fair, so authors of other genres must be creative at where they can promote their own novels. For science fiction writers, you might want to attend Sci-fi/comic book conventions. Horror and romance writers, your conventions are limited to a yearly event, Halloween and Valentine’s day respectively. I am mentioning conventions and holidays, because these will be the times when promoting your novel is the easiest; the potential reader is already in the mood for your genre of writing.

What I do at these medieval faires, is to have fun enjoying them. I will observe the different demonstrations and events and if there is something I like, I will go talk to them. It is at this time, I will comment to them that I want their business card or contact information. I then will tell them I am going to mention them on my blog, and give them one of my novel’s bookmarks that have my blog web address on the back.

Now, I want to make one very important point, and want to make it at this point in my post. I am complimenting, and recommending these performers and demonstrators based on THEIR merit, not for the point that I may receive some kind of quid pro quo, expecting promotion for myself. If you are going to mention someone, your first priority is to be sincere and promote them, if there is any advancement that comes your way; that is secondary. If you are not genuine, you will not be able to hide that. I do not think there is anything worse in this world than insincerity.

This is somewhat different than a group you might belong to on Facebook or LinkedIn, where it is expected that you might visit each other’s sites to make comments or suggestions, etc. When you mentioned a business or entertainer on your blog, you should do it to promote them, do not expect anything in return.

After I have made contact with the people at the faires, I will “friend” or “like” these groups or people on social media sites. I will do simple blurbs about them, and what I thought of their performances or demonstrations.

The next step is to write my blog about the event. It is in this blog that I can mention the above-named groups and include a link where my readers can find them. This is different than a review, I rarely if ever complain about something I encounter at one of these faires. This is not to say I might not mention the long lines, or complain about the turkey leg I got, this kind of grievances is beyond the control of the faire promoters.

So in your blog you have mentioned the performers, vendors that you like, now go back to your social media and tell them about your blog. Here is where the sincerity of your blog post kicks in, if it is not honest, they may not tell you about, they may do something worse, and that is to ignore you.

If you made a simple honest comment about them, then they will tell others where to find your blog. As you can tell, doing a blog listing the people that you met at an event, will increase your blog views, and as a result more exposure for your product.

Now we come back to one of the points I commented on earlier, Who and What we are as writers. I remember the words I received as a professional wrestler from Killer Kowalski; “Never turn down an opportunity to promote yourself.”

Although I respected Killer Kowalski, I find this a hard concept because it is against my personality, I am not a pushy aggressive person and do not like to impose my will on others. I knew early on in life that being a salesperson was not an appropriate career choice.

As a writer, I used the same approach I did as a wrestler; put out a good product and then people will admire it. I know that this may not be popular with many writers, or business people, who think that the end all is to get someone to buy you book or product.

My result of not being aggressive has increased the viewers of this blog immensely. I want to thank everyone who has visited recently and hope you return each week to read y post.

You could use the aggressive approach when at a fair or convention, going through the crowd handing out bookmarks or flyers, but I think you will find you may get more negative responses then positive toward your product. When you attend a faire or festival as a visitor, that is what you are, a visitor. Treat these events as a guest.

So ask yourself if you should go to events as a visitor, or use that event as a way to aggressively promote yourself or your product. The answer is something you must answer internally.

I would like to take this time to wish all my American readers a happy and safe Independence Day and my friends to the North, a safe and happy Canada Day.

Next time: I will discuss the sequel to "Legend of the Mystic Knights" that I am currently writing.


  1. I agree with philosophy completely. Any compliment should be given without the intention of receiving something in return. I think that goes for everything, book or no book:)

  2. Medieval faires are an unusually good fit for your book. Most of us have trouble finding as targeted an audience. Sounds like your approach, engaging with the people who you find interesting, would be effective. It is certainly more pleasant than just hawking your wares.

  3. Very interesting. I like the distinction you've made between attending an event as a visitor versus a promoter. As Ken pointed out, medieval faires are a good fit for your book. Because you enjoy these events and talk to people and entertainers you find interesting, the faires become a bit of networking event for you. I think all networking events or opportunities work best when we are genuine and sincere. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Great perspective and strategy - it's almost an organic process, since you're attending events that you enjoy, engaging with talented people and promoting your mutual interests. And then hopefully, someone buys your book!

  5. If you write about an artist that you like but completely ignore an artist that you don't like, then you are in effect reviewing both of these artists. And it's fair enough to do this: life is too short to waste time on things you don't like. (I often follow this approach myself when I write about music.)

  6. First, your marketing tactic seems like quite a fit William. My thinking is that your approach sounds like relational marketing. You've found a proper audience for sure, now you let relationships build and it goes from there. Thanks for giving a clear illustration of the distinction.

  7. For you it's a great idea to attend medieval festivals to promote your book. Like your strategy.

  8. Self promotion is one of the hardest things to do for most authors and even though I've spent most of my life in sales and marketing I will admit I'm no exception. I like your approach William and I think it makes a lot of sense. Similarly what I endeavor to do is focus on the benefits for my readers rather than myself. Even this is a balancing act because these days everyone wants to know about you, so I try to share enough to let people know that I write from a place of experience so I understand the challenges on a personal level. Thanks for sharing your approach.

  9. What a great perspective and strategy. Anytime we can go to events that we enjoy in an effort to learn and promote a project is a very good thing. It puts in touch with what other talented people are doing. I wish you great success in your endeavor and you sell LOTS of books. 😊

  10. That's a great strategy and one we are all better off trying to employ. Much more comes back in return when we don't expect something back.

  11. The interesting thing is that I've been thinking about doing something similar. I've started reaching out to people I know who work in different aspects of my field to see about interviewing them for my blog. The first bonus for me is that it will make my blog more well rounded. Second, it might bring new readers to me if they promote it. It is nice to hear you have had such luck with your strategy

  12. That's a great strategy. I know it will pay off for you.

  13. I think your idea about how to promote your book/blog at a fair without being aggressive is an excellent one. I am not an aggressive person either, but I am not afraid to assert myself. I will use this idea at some point because I believe it's a win/win, even if they don't choose to buy my book.

  14. Great strategy to promote your book and network with potential buyers and viewer of your blog. I totally agree that going to venues that hold your demographic of people works wonders and you don't have to work hard to get them to see you. Good job zoning in on your customers.