Well, my first dedicated book sale event was yesterday. It left me exhausted (or, well, perhaps a little dehydrated), but it was a good time. Weird internet issues today (wifi’s been spotty, Facebook has been acting up, and when I tried to go to Wikipedia earlier, I was somehow redirected to the Polish version of Wikipedia. I’ve never been to Polish Wikipedia, before, and have no idea how that happened) has made typing an extensive write-up… difficult, but here is a BRIEF summary of my thoughts in the aftermath:
- It was an outdoor event, and advertised as “rain or shine.” Rain and books don’t mix well, so I was happy to see that it wasn’t raining. In fact, I dare to say it was the nicest day of the year, so far.
- Despite the good weather, the tent I was in had clearly been rained on over the past several days… and it was leaking. I was a little hesitant about putting my books out for display on a table where dripping water had pooled. I got the table moved so that it wouldn’t get dripped on as much, and dried it off, but the water was still dripping on my head any time the wind blew. In order to minimize the risk of getting my books wet, I wasn’t quite able to set up my table the way I wanted. I’m not sure what could be done to prepare for this sort of thing in future events, but I need to figure out something if I’m ever part of another outdoor book sale. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be glad to hear them.
- I went to this event last year, though as a customer and not as an author. It was raining off and on that day, and foot traffic was moderate to light (I did not notice any wet author tables last year, but the whole thing was set up differently; tables were arranged differently, it was in a different part of the library grounds (their front parking lot instead of their rear parking lot), it was larger, etc.). I was hoping that the better weather would result in better attendance, but foot traffic was about what I remember from last year.
- The Loudoun County Library’s Eat Local Read Local event took place simultaneously with the Fredricksburg Independent Book Festival, an almost identical event focused more on indie authors that was taking place about an hour’s drive away from my house (which means it was about an hour and a half’s drive, in the other direction, from the Eat Local Read Local). I asked an author who was there what foot traffic was like, and was told it was “surprisingly light” there, as well. At least in terms of total bodies coming to either event, the Eat Local Read Local was about on par.
- I did, in fact, sell a few books (not as many as my most optimistic hopes, but not as few as my more pessimistic imaginings), despite the light foot traffic. I went through a lot of effort to ensure I could take credit cards (using Square), and got stickers and signs broadcasting that fact, but to my surprise everyone paid cash. I’ll have to remember that if I do it again; I thought I was well prepared, but I almost ran out of spare change.
- We (authors) were all assigned to one of three tents, and provided with half of a table each (in other words, we were asked to share a table with someone else). Our table-partners, with a few exceptions, were assigned alphabetically within each tent. Just what criteria was used for tent assignment, however, was not clear to me — though I do know we weren’t grouped by alphabet, genre, publishing house, bestselling rank, or in order of when we applied to be part of the event. Maybe it was random draw out of a hat?
- My table partner was an affable character who wrote literary works on school life. He said he had been to events like this before and had never sold anything at them, but he thought he would give it ‘one more try.’ He then proceeded to spend about five minutes at the table before standing up and wandering off, checking out the other authors’ offerings, then came back for a bit before again wandering off to have a conversation with someone, then came back briefly, fussed with how his books were arranged on the table, and then left for a bit again. He came back for one last time… to pack everything up and go home with the event half-way over. I have to wonder if this was typical of his past attempts to sell books at these events, and if that is why he’s never sold anything at them before.
- Most authors only brought one or two different titles to sell to readers; I brought multiple copies of all six books that I have in print. This might have been a mistake, considering I only had half of a table, and my books were a bit crowded together. Combined with the need to arrange things so that my books were kept dry, I wasn’t able to display them all to their best effect. My table partner leaving allowed me to spread out a bit, but if I do this event again I’ll have to be a bit more selective in what I bring.
- I made arrangements for my sister-in-law to show up half-way through the event (well, actually I’d arranged for my brother to do so, but he accidentally double-booked himself for that day, so she came instead) to take over my table so I would be able to get lunch. My table-partner had already left by that point, so after buying lunch from one of the food trucks at the event, I took his seat and the two of us worked the table while I ate. Having someone else there was a great help (though it would have been impossible to have someone with me from the start of the event, as there was normally only room for one person), even if we didn’t have any sales during the brief time she was there.
- I got lots of compliments on my book covers. As an odd phenomenon, I had people taking pictures of my book covers, as well. I thought maybe they were showrooming, but so far I haven’t seen any sales bumps among the books that were most commonly photographed. I did see a slight bump in sales of The Merrimack Event in the immediate aftermath of the event, but I don’t remember anyone taking pictures of that book’s cover, so I don’t know if that’s connected at all.
- Everyone loved my little Fennec Fox Press stuffed fox-keychains, but no-one wanted to buy one. I do give some of them away, but I can’t afford to give ALL of them away; I’m only charging the break-even price for them. Ah, well… I’ve got them for next time, at least.
And… well, that’s all I can think to say at the moment. No link-shares this week. So, until next week, that’s it…