Earlier this week, I had a moment of panic when the official webpage for the Eat Local, Read Local library event — an event that I’ve been telling you for months, on this blog, that I would be a part of — went live and, well, my name wasn’t on the list of participants.
An e-mail to the library took care of that quickly enough. There was a miscommunication, but we got it all straightened out, and so yes I’m still going to be there… (and by the time this blog goes out, my name should have been added to the list on that link, as it should have been from the start). So, if you’re interested, I’ll be selling and signing any of my print-edition books, as well as any swag I have on hand, at the event. I won’t be alone; there will be many other authors at the event, including (of particular note for fans of the sci-fi\fantasy genre) the bestselling and multiple-award-winning, multi-talented author, teacher, scientist, ballet dancer, and musician Catherine Asaro.
But the issue prompted me to think about everything I’ve gone through so far for what will be my first sales event:
As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, I took inventory of my books a couple weeks ago. I ordered some copies of the one book that I didn’t have any copies of, but I already had enough of the others to be okay. I also bought a few display stands at the same time — I already had a few for conventions, but I figured I would need more for this event. They shipped just this morning, but they’re supposed to arrive well before the event.
I also took inventory of my swag. I still have plenty of my keychain-sized stuffed fennec foxes, but not enough of them have the bow ties that include the Fennec Fox Press branding. We have the ribbon on hand, but my mother needs to get her embroidery machine up and running to put the branding on it. I’ll have a few on hand, though, at a minimum, and they’ll be for sale as long as I have a surplus. I also have some postcards and a few other little things of that nature.
I want to get some additional swag made, though — something cheap enough to give away, but useful enough people won’t toss it in the trash the moment they get home. Most commonly, when other authors try for this type of swag, it includes things such as pens and refrigerator magnets. I was hoping the people who did my postcards would be able to make these, but they say that their particular franchise won’t do magnets (though some other franchises in their company will).
There are two alternatives I’ve considered that might be able to do those magnets. The first, and the more expensive option, is Vistaprint, a business that a number of other authors I know recommend for business cards and the like. The other is a local option, both on the front-end and in the manufacturing capacities, and it has the advantage of allowing me to REAL PEOPLE about my needs… and it’s cheaper, as well. I still need to go and talk to the local option before making my decision final; I’ll have to do that soon, though, because there isn’t much time before the event.
There’s also legal stuff. I’ve been running Fennec Fox Press as a sole proprietor with a DBA (Doing Business As, a legal business\fictitious name) from the beginning of my writing career, and will continue to do so (for now, though if I ever bring in other authors for anthologies or the like I’ll be switching to a LLC), but I’ve never needed to bother with the aspects of the business that would put me in a position to have to collect sales tax. I’ve actively avoided doing certain things because I didn’t want to deal with that, and I didn’t see much short-term return on them. I’ve been thinking about setting this up for some time, thinking I would maybe try selling some of my books at Marscon or Ravencon earlier this year, but things didn’t quite come together in time and so I never bothered.
For an event like this, however, I’ll almost certainly have to collect sales tax. I have yet to complete all of the paperwork, but it’s in process and I SHOULD have it ready in time. (From a legal perspective, according to the research I’ve done on the local regulations, I won’t be getting in any significant trouble if the paperwork is a little late; I just need to make sure I collect the appropriate tax when I do the sales, and file the paperwork as soon as possible)
And this means I’ll need to set things up to take credit card payments. I’ve set up a Square account, and I’m waiting on a card reader now. The card reader is very basic (it’s the one that only works with magnetic strips, not chips), but it should see me through this event just fine. Long term, once I learn my way around this system, I’ll be able to set up a store for directly selling my books from my website, and maybe replace that card reader with a more modern one that’ll also work with chip-based cards and the like.
So… I’m not ready yet. I’ve got a lot of things in progress, though, so hopefully, by September 29th (the date of the Eat Local, Read Local event), I’ll have everything done.
And if Loudoun County is just slightly outside of your driving range but you still want to go to a book sales event, you’re in luck. Turns out on the same day, at the same time, in Fredricksburg Virginia, there’s the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, where Martin Wilsey, one of the other authors of the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology, will be selling his wares.
Meanwhile, a PARTIAL manuscript for the next Law of Swords book is with the editor. I had to rip out an entire subplot right before deadline, in order to make things work in the conclusion, and that’s going to involve re-writing two complete chapters and portions of several others. That has delayed completion a little, but if I can win the race of finishing those rewrites before he reaches the end of the portion of the manuscript I’ve already sent him, I ultimately won’t lose any time.
The book will certainly be out before the end of the year, regardless… (though, sadly, it doesn’t look like it will be out before the Eat Local, Read Local event. Ah, well). It may not have the cover that I showed off earlier this year, though — my test-audience doesn’t like that cover for a variety of reasons.
I hired a skilled and experienced artist, and liked the artwork myself, but I did have a few reservations. I thought the problems I had with all had to do with the change of style — no-one is going to match the style of the original artwork perfectly — but the test audience I’ve shown it to has several objections, some of which I share. None of them, surprisingly, are about the subject of the cover; mostly it’s about the coloring, the proportional size of the dragon, Euleilla’s hairstyle, and the texture of the stonework on the castle wall), so I may need to replace that artwork. Which probably will mean a new artist search. I’ve still got that cover as a fall-back, though.
As far as the next Shieldclads book is concerned (something I know many visitors to my blog are interested in), I’ll be starting that as soon as I’m done with the Law of Swords manuscript and can get the rest of it off to the editor… though, by now, I’ve learned better than to try and predict a completion date.
I don’t think there are any link-shares this week (something may have come in this morning, but I can’t check right now), so instead I’ll use this space to plug the crowdfunding campaign for Starflight 3. The fondness I have for the original games has me pushing for this to succeed, though the fundraising target they’ve set has me worried for it. If you’re willing to help me support a sequel to one of the very best PC computer games of the 1980s, please look into it.