Blog No. 334
I forgot how fun it can be to go to an event and actually sell some books. Don’t get me wrong. It’s work. It’s making sure everything is organized and packed ahead of time, getting up early and piling everything into the car, finding where you are supposed to go and where you can (or can’t) park, then carrying everything to your table, sitting there for eight or more hours, packing it all up, and heading home. Most of the day is spent sitting at the table, greeting the people who wander by, giving the same pitch over and over again. It seems like no big deal, but it can be exhausting. When you have two events in two day, in two cities (though it’s easier when one of them is in your home town) the fatigue is magnified. Those days can feel like years. Sure, it can be fun and when you go year after year, you make friends, but the one thing that helps more than anything else is getting the first sale and keeping the momentum from there.
Saturday was the second Windsor Small Press Book Fair. It’s a bit of a smaller, local event, but with so many great local authors, publishers, and creators, the quality of what’s on sale is high. This year I think there were nine or ten vendors/publishers one or two who couldn’t be there for the whole time. The event isn’t long, five hours plus one for setup, travel, and the like. It’s pretty easy day and knowing most of the people there, it’s nice to catch up and talk shop. Thankfully, I sold pretty well. Really well for the size of the event. Having the new book certainly helped, and I think my idea of the package enticing buyers is turning out to be true. People loved the book wraps and were more inclined to get both than one or the other. Since the book fair was so well priced (even including the parking) it doesn’t take much to make a profit. I ended up making a bit more than just a profit, thankfully, since I owe for the cost of The Neon Heart, and that wasn’t cheap. We did better than last year, too, which hopefully means the event is growing. I really like it (a book focused, local focused event that doesn’t cost much but promotes the writing culture in the city). With any luck, it will keep growing for the next few years and turn into a really nice annual event.
On Sunday, I was in Sarnia for the Sarnia Pop Culture Show. It was my first guest event of the year and since I’m not going to be at Shock Stock, it was the deadline for Neon Heart. I’ve been a couple times before with Christian (of course) but I wasn’t there last year. Being a guest is pretty nice. You get advertised, you get to sit in an area with other guests, and you usually don’t have to pay for the table. Christian and I have managed to be guests at a few conventions, but it’s almost like we’re junior-guests. Some conventions pay their guests depending on how big of a name they are and if they are likely to draw more people. Sometimes there are different levels (some getting paid and some just getting the table covered). We haven’t reached paid status yet, but we do our best to advertise, keep active in the different aspects of the events, and sell enough books to be a reason for people to come back the next year (assuming they liked what they read and wanted to get the newest books). Also, being a guest gives a good impression. People see your face in the advertising and come by to see what you’re all about. It makes you seem more important than you are. Being a guest and the repeat invites are part of the reason for my Novella Series (having a new book every year for all these events). It gives the guests a reason to come to the table, and it gives me something to sell to the people who have all my other books.
Since I wasn’t at the SPCS last year, Christian and I had three new books on sale. All These Crooked Streets, The Thinking Machine, and The Neon Heart. The big winner of the event was No Light Tomorrow, though. I sold a bunch of the two packs of Thinking and Neon, but No Light edged it out, right to the end. We didn’t break any sales records (our first SPCS is still at the top, though, we had priced No Light ultra competitively that day). Interestingly, every book did alright, except for The Neon Heart on its own, but since I hadn’t sold any Thinking Machine last year and it’s a sequel, that makes sense. Christian’s first book, The Space Between Houses is getting a second release through Urban Farmhouse Press in the Fall. It would have been nice to have that one there too, but I’m really happy with how well we did. The Pop Culture Show has an interesting vibe. It’s not the largest, craziest, or best attended event I’ve been to, but the people who do come are interested, friendly, talkative, and best of all for the vendors, willing to buy things. It’s a well run convention that the citizens seem to appreciate. They bother to come out and they are looking to support it and the people there. I hope I get to keep going back and one day move out of junior-guest to the real thing if I can jump the next hurdle.
Thanks to those two events, I’ve sold just over half of my initial 100 book run of The Neon Heart. There are still books at stores, Anchor, Biblioasis, and Indigo Devonshire, that are in flux, but I may end up ordering more sooner than later. I have to get more of the other books too, so the financial hurt may be on for the summer. The kicker is that I started to feel sick on Friday, so I was fighting it all weekend at the events. On Sunday night, when I got back from Sarnia, it flooded over me like a tidal wave, and I’ve been sick all week. Small price to pay to sell some books and be a guest at an out-of-town convention. The next thing I have is an appearance at Bilioasis for the Independent Bookstore Day on April 27th and the official Neon Heart launch at Anchor Bakery and Espresso Bar on May 5th. I hope to keep the sales going. I’m really proud of The Neon Heart and the first two books in the series as a whole. I’m plugging away on the novel, but I’m eager to get to the next novella too. For now, I’m going to rest until the next event.