I have an author event this Sunday that I've gone to for the past few years. It's not an event where I can sell books. (It's not even an event that focuses on books. The focus is local businesses.) I have a table to display my books, business cards, and SWAG to giveaway, but I am not allowed to sell anything. Why do I do this? Simple. Being an author isn't just about selling books. It's about sharing what we do and making people into readers.
At this event, I talk to people about writing in general—how I went from idea to book, how I found my agent, how I got published, and what I do on a daily basis. The amazing thing is that most of the people in attendance are non-readers, and yet they find authors interesting. I think it's because authors genuinely love what we do. Sharing my writing career with strangers is so much fun for me. Sure, some of these people take my business cards and order my books. I know because they come back the following year and tell me they bought one of my books and what they thought of it. That's great because of course I love getting sales, but it's not why I go to this event.
It's about making connections with readers and/or turning people into readers. I've also gotten invites to other author appearances each year from the people I speak with at this event.
So marketing isn't just about selling copies of your books. Keep that in mind when you book your next event.