I made it through the Author Fair virtually unscathed. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same thing for my new earrings. Don’t ask me how one loses a six inch long piece of sterling silver that threads completely through your ear, because I have no clue. All I know is that it didn’t make it back home and it renders the matching one useless. There was one royalty check well spent. Back to the practice of investing all of my sales back into my writing.
(An update after this was initially written: the earring has been found. It was wedged in my inventory and fell out from between a couple copies when I flipped through them. But I haven’t changed my mind about the investment strategy.)
But anyway, as promised, here is a recap of my very first public appearance. As you might recall, I had a checklist of what I wanted to accomplish in my last post on the subject. Since you’re all dying to know if I was successful at any of it, we’ll just take care of that in list format.
1. Talk with potential readers – yes.
2. To be as good of a representation of my brand in person as I am online – leaning towards yes.
3. To let my personality shine through snarkiness and all – yes, and bonus points for using “anal retentive” in a sentence while doing so.
4. To get some new local interest in my work – debatable. I had people take my business cards – which are super cool, by the way – but we’ll see if anything comes from that.
5. To meet a couple of the authors whose books I’ve actually read – half accomplished, as in I met one.
6. To come home with a few less books than I started with – yes.
To read it all spelled out like that, it sounded like it went off without a hitch – right?
Well, not exactly. There were some, ahem, issues with things. But nothing insurmountable.
My children are taking an art class at the college on Saturday mornings, which meant that my husband drove me to the library, helped me get set up, and then had to leave again to retrieve them. My in-laws met them at our house to watch the kids overnight and my husband was supposed to come back and be my companion for the rest of the event. He did come back, but by the time he did, there was absolutely no parking whatsoever and he never got to exit the car and come in to see me in action. This meant he just drove around the block repeatedly waiting for me to get the hell out of there. This also meant that he was not the happiest camper when we met back up.
The turnout for the event on the author front was crazy good. There were 70 authors slated to be there, and there was even a waiting list on top of that. Seems that there are more local authors than I thought. Unfortunately, the table placement was less than stellar because they tried to accommodate as many authors as they could. Which left me relegated to a table off the main drag, just inside one of the entrances, wedged in a corner by the Dunkin Donuts. But I was sitting by another romance novelist and an urban fiction author who were both very nice, and we were having quite the discussion about things.
Eventually, the powers that be took pity on all of us in said corner and we got moved into the main drag to fill up seats from those who had not shown up, or left early or whatever. Unfortunately, this meant that I was split up from my fellow fiction writers and seated in the midst of a lot of really nice non-fiction, historian types. For someone who writes “smut” as my loved one (and my boss) affectionately call it, it kind of made me want to hide under my new table and rock back and forth, claiming my unworthiness.
As I implied above, I did sell some paperback copies. My plan was to offer them at a reduced price for the event. However, the indie bookstore charged list price for them, which is more expensive than they currently run on either Amazon or B&N. Fortunately, my husband knows the lady that bought them and we returned the difference to her after the fact. And yes, since the agreement at the Author Fair was to donate 10% of your sales to the library, I did write them a check for 10% of the list price, not the reduced price.
I didn’t go into the event with unrealistic expectations, so I’m not in any way disappointed. And it was interesting to see how other authors handle public appearances. Some went all out, bringing posters, artwork and table decorations, while others didn’t have anything but themselves. I was somewhere in between. And I certainly wasn’t the least seasoned author in the bunch, which was also comforting. To think that I was able to both speak intelligently with those who have been more successful than I have and to offer advice to others that are just starting out is a good feeling.
Yes, it was a learning experience. Will I do it next year? I’m leaning towards yes, but I’ve got a bit of time to decide for sure.