I learned of the Ohio Authors Book Fair from a fellow author, Stephanie Ayers. Stephanie writes horror. We frequent many of the same author-oriented events.
The Ohio Authors Book Fair took place at Destination Outlets located on the outskirts of Jeffersonville, Ohio. It’s only a few miles from another outlet mall which was constructed around the same time. The two malls have since been in heated competition with each other, with the Jeffersonville location faring poorly due to its less prominent location.
The property itself is clean and well-kept. Property management assisted in promoting the event by adding it to their “upcoming events” signage placed throughout the complex and in bathroom stalls. The complex contains many popular brands such as Coach, Under Armor, and Nike. That last store is going out of business. Dining options within the mall are almost nonexistent beyond vending machines and one coffee shop (Orion Coffee & Tea).
The book fair organizer, Theresa Garee of Social Ally, did a really nice job in planning and promoting the event through social media and offered the incentive of a refunded registration fee to the vendor who shared/promoted the event the most. She put in a great deal of work for the modest registration fee charged to authors. The event pulled in around 40 authors whose tables were sprinkled throughout the complex. We needed twice or even three times that number to be really visible and for shoppers to understand at a quick glance that something extra was going on. As it was, shoppers expressed some surprise: “What’s going on?” Some sidewalk signs (e.g., “Book Fair Today”) placed strategically throughout the complex would have been nice to have. Those are signs that, carefully worded, could be reused for several years, making them more economical to purchase.
We couldn’t have asked for nicer weather: blue skies, warm temperatures, and a brisk breeze that required weights to anchor canopies to the ground. Many participating authors, including me, also sold other merchandise. One author had baked goods. Some offered tee shirts and other swag. I and my best friend, artist Cindra Phillips, offered original artwork. I sold a couple of small paintings, and she sold one or two paintings. I did sell several books.
The event’s scheduled duration from 10 AM to 3 PM worked well. Unlike the Springfield Antique Show & Flea Market Extravaganza’s outrageously long hours, this book fair didn’t suck all our energy from us.
The complex and the event started with some technical issues: a power outage. Stores remained closed for most of the morning. Visits to the restrooms required bringing in light sources so as not to fumble awkwardly in the darkness. However, the power (and thus the lights) came on around 11:30 as the parking lot filled up with shoppers’ vehicles.
Although the parking lot looked full, the mall did not appear busy. Perhaps its sheer immensity made it appear lightly populated. Regardless, a steady trickle of shoppers passed through.
The upshot: I recouped my registration fee and per diem expenses. Theresa asked for vendor feedback to which I suggested grouping authors more closely together so we didn’t get lost among the shops and were more visible. I also suggested organizing a food truck rally both for such an event’s popularity (food truck rallies draw lots of people) and to expand dining options for hungry vendors.
I look forward to participating in the 2024 Ohio Authors Book Fair.
#henhousepublishing #hollybargobooks #events