Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Novel Breads and Hard Selling Authors

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of taking part in the Beaver County BookFest. An exhibition of 50+ authors gathered in a fancy tent positioned in Beaver, PA's Irvine Park. It was my first time in the town of Beaver. It's adorable! Even with remnants of Hurricane Gordon soaking the streets, Beaver looked warm and welcoming.

The sun shining on the main street in Beaver, PA. I hope to see this in person
one day. On Saturday it was quite gray and puddly and I didn't photograph it.
This was my first experience with attempting to sell my book to real humans in person. It's safe to say that my pitch needs work. The sales totals for the day were Magic Ear Kids (3), Hondo (0). Also, people didn't even want my spiffy free bookmarks. And all three copies sold went to blood relatives. So... a learning experience!

My table was split 50/50 between No Room for Hondo & Magic Ear Kids.
The fairy lights and doll-sized crib were crowd favorites. The books, not so much!

It was a long day (9am-4pm) with lots of interesting adventures (box lunch! porta-potty that flushes!), but I've pared the list down to the top three...

Notable Happenings at the Book Fair

  1. A few weeks before the BookFest, I received a note from the event organizer about a unique opportunity. One of the vendors, Novel Breads, wanted authors to submit quotes to be baked into artisan bread loaves that would be sold at the event. Of course, I had a lot of questions. How is this possible? Could I eat my words?

    I submitted quotes from the Magic Ear book and Hondo. Days later, the Novel Breads baker contacted me to say that she'd selected the quote from Hondo!!!

    This was the most exciting thing that has happened in my writing career to date. I beat a path to the Novel Bread tent and purchased a loaf of delicious bread with my very own words inside. Then I purchased a loaf called "Don't Cry Over Spelt Coconut" with a quote from David B. Seaburn's Parrot Talk inside. And then I ate a lot of bread!

    Here I am with my No Room for Hondo bread
    on Sunday morning after a nice long night of post-BookFest sleep.
  2. Most of the day was spent greeting people as they passed my table. Occasional interest in one or both stories warranted longer conversation than the typical pleasantries. I talked to lots of people. Only one conversation stood out.

    Mid-morning, an elderly couple approached. A woman, easily nearing eighty-years-old, told me that she wasn't at the book fair to buy books. She'd written a story, what she could only describe as a personal tale "about a boy," and she was doing research about getting it published. She wrote it all by hand, she told me, and she figured she'd need to type it. She has an old typewriter, but it's not very good and people have told her that she should put it into a computer. The woman asked me all about self-publishing with CreateSpace and wanted to know how I got my stories put into printed books. When she'd satisfied her curiosity, the woman took her equally aged husband's hand and slowly walked away.

    Somehow learning that this elderly woman has a handwritten story tucked away that she still dreams of publishing was really inspiring to me. I hope she finds a way to share her words with us.
  3. While we were all setting up, I overheard one author telling another that you "have to talk to people." She offered anecdotal evidence that "Last year, I sat next to a young girl that didn't talk to people and she sold two books all day!"

    Later in the day, my husband manned my table (in case of theft or a sudden influx of customers) and I took a lap around the tent with my daughter. We encountered the author whose advice I overheard and boy, did she ever talk to us! She was one of about four writers engaged in hard selling tactics.

    Do you like fantasy? What would you say to a story in a world where chickens rule over people that have been turned into eagles? Did you know this is a trilogy? Are you in the mood for love?

    This was rather a successful tactic on a rainy Saturday in Beaver. People were buying books from the authors that pitched the hardest. I observed the phenomenon and promptly went to my table where I talked a woman out of buying my book. She wanted to buy Magic Ear Kids for her thirteen-year-old daughter. It just wasn't a good fit!

    It occurs to me that I might have to let go of this fantasy of my book finding the perfect reader. It's not always going to land in a home where it will be read and loved and cherished. Someone might buy it and hate it. They might never read it. They might even give it a bad review. Perhaps I should let it go.

    But I really think that thirteen-year-old would have been befuddled and disappointed. I hope her mom went and bought her a love story about chickens and eagles. I hear it's a trilogy.