I just returned from a local book fair where I sat behind a table and greeted walkers-by, most of whom were other authors in the hall taking a break. Very few civilian customers from outside the hermetic literary world were present.
Such events are mind-numbing and the truth is, I packed up and left this one a couple of hours early. I do them because it’s the job, and it’s good for me. You never know what you might learn or who you might meet.
Today I nearly sold out my inventory of Hunter & Hunted (www. bit.ly/Hunter-Hunted). Only one left! When I reprint a batch at CreateSpace, maybe I should put on the cover, “Now in its Second Printing!” ( — of twelve – I’ll leave that detail off).
I gave away one copy of my other self-published novel, It Wasn’t Me (www. bit.ly/Wasnt-Me) to a fellow author who promised to review it. About half the people who promise to write a review actually do. The other half are too lazy to review it or didn’t read the book or read it and hated it.
I realized today that I needed to rewrite the back cover blurb on that one. Right now it describes a “psychological thriller” and that’s a little too psychological for a lot of people. They read that and put it down. That’s the sort of feedback you can only get from observing people interacting with the product.
I also learned that the display copy, standing upright on its little easel, should never be placed atop the stack of books. Why? Because nobody will touch that book. They don’t want to ruin the nice display, apparently. It acts like a “Keep Away” sign.
So I put the display copy behind the stack of books and people picked up the top book on the stack and thumbed it. Another “live and learn” lesson from watching customers.
I like the people who ask, “Which book has the higher body count?” and “Which one has the most blood and gore?” Those are my kind of readers!
When I walked around the hall, several authors accosted me as soon as I got to their table, immediately launching into explanation of the theme or explication of plot, often grabbing a copy and thrusting it toward me. They also inevitably had a tray of incomprehensible tchotchkes and a newsletter signup sheet. Some also had a bowl of candies or a plate of cookies and they encouraged me to take a sample of all these wares, while explaining what everything was and how good it was.
As a consequence of such vigorous selling, I never did pick up a book and look through it. My only thought was to get away. Maybe others love the performance. Not me.
To my surprise, at one table was the Mayor of Tucson, Jonathan Rothschild, selling his thin book of poetry (http://poetry.arizona.edu/content/reading-list-and-thoughts-poetry-tucson-mayor-jonathan-rothschild) A poetry-writing mayor – who knew? He was soft-sell and I did pick up the book and the poems were accessible and thoughtful. I went back later to buy a copy but he had disappeared.
At another table I found an author selling her 120-page screenplays. They were on interesting topics and attractively bound with good cover art. (They were not, however, formatted per Final Draft standard, for some reason).
I wondered if this might be a good idea. A screenplay is short, easy-to-read, inexpensive, and performable (these particular ones granted performance rights). Assuming the story and characters are good, it seems readily marketable. While I did not find the one I glanced through compelling, that format is something to think about further.
And I drank way too much coffee.