The last post on this site was the extent of the notice that I put out on doing an author event. I had my reasons.
On Saturday, July 10th, I attended the Lake Geneva Public Library’s Beachside Authorfest near the shores of Lake Geneva in Wisconsin — not to be confused with the Lake Geneva in Switzerland, which I’ve also been to. Anyway, although this is the 7th year of this event, it is only my second time attending. The first time was the 2nd year that they put it on.
Since COVID had knocked out much of the events in 2020 and the early parts of 2021, I decided that although most of the author fests/events I attend are busts, it was time to dust myself off and give it another go.
To be clear, I am not all that good of a salesman. It is one of many reasons my writing career is stagnant. Realistically it only comes into play when I have books to actually sell, such as at these events. All of it being the communication issues I have as an anxious, shy, introvert. And while the reasons for my being so are often unfounded, it doesn’t change that it is how I am. So I need more practice to help move past these traits when I need to — and author events are a good time to do so.
An added factor (in this case) is that I am in the early to middle stages of preparing for a rebranding. I have a scifi saga that I had initially put out in novellas that I am going to shift into a series of novels (starting with re-releasing the initial novellas as one book), I have book 2 for The Dangerous Life of Agnes Pyle in revision stages, thoughts of releasing a second poetry book, and I have somewhere between 3 to 6 other stories that are in varying stages of revising that may or may not be ready for 2021 releases if I play my cards right — in other words, if I fucking work hard for it. Given all this, I only had one book to sell as I’ve burned out my personal stock of books ahead of this “rebranding”.
Anyway, the event gave me an opportunity to learn how to sell again, to brush up on my skills on not giving in to my anxieties, etc etc. However, it ended up being a wash in that department.
The Beachside Authorfest was held for 6 hours near one of the public beaches on the lake, on the grounds surrounding the library. They placed me right on one of the main walking paths around the lake, near the entrance to the beach. It was both a great spot and a terrible spot. Great in that hundreds upon hundreds of people walked by — terrible in that fewer that maybe a few dozen (at best) even showed an interest in anything on my table. Of that, only maybe 4 actually showed interest in the fact that I was selling books, not just showcasing the two antique typewriters I had on display.
With me at the event were 5 other members of my family who were there to enjoy the lake and the town while I sold my wares. They told me later that they heard many people express confusion as to what was happening. It appeared that no one around except for the authors themselves were aware that there was an event. And they told me that signs near the event were small and that there was no advertising in the rest of the town that they could see.
Being rather unknown myself, I knew that advertising it on my end would bring exactly 0 patrons. My family purchased from a number of other writers at the event, which is the best I could contribute. Beyond that or patrons that other writers might get to come to the event, the library appeared to be minimal in its own advertising. I both understand and am annoyed by this.
Realistically, other than the gorgeous view of the lake that allowed me to people watch while I waited for people to walk by and maybe pay attention to me, it seemed there was no point in my being there. Of those maybe 4 people that showed interest in my book, I couldn’t hook them. It just seemed that everyone there was more interested in enjoying the cool weather, the lake, or the town — not a bunch of hopeful writers.
I don’t blame the writers or the library though. Maybe a bit more advertising on the library’s part might have changed the foot-traffic towards the event’s favor, but realistically, I don’t believe there was a difference to be made. Circumstances are what they are — Lake Geneva is essentially a tourist town. Most of the people there were there for a day trip to the lake, or maybe for a few days. They were not there to shop for books at a library event. Yet even despite these facts, I am glad I went.
What I really like about these events is the lessons of what to do/not do while there. It was where I learned to have gimmicks up on my table to attract potential customers. It’s understanding how to put visuals up, how to present the books. Then there’re the mistakes I make (such as forgetting to bring cash for change… not that I needed it). Or not having Square or some other payment system set up to take credit card transactions as so few people carry cash these days. Another area I have to resolve for the next time are giveaways like pamphlets or bookmarks — items that give information as to who I am and where to get my books for those not willing to take the risk right then.
More than any of that though, it gives me some opportunities to practice talking about my writing and my books. Awkward or not, I need to do this if I think that a career in writing (be it part time or full time) is possible. There’s a long road ahead before I reach any point where I can call this thing anything more than a simple hobby. These events, good or bad, are perfect places to add to the list of skills needed to make this whole thing possible. So expect to see me there again next year.