On October 6, Dan and I attended the Collingswood Book Festival, where I was a vendor. I displayed my books and chatted with interested individuals. I also spoke with a person who had a podcast about mystery writing (Saint Maggie fits – kind of – into that category) and with another man who invited me to call his bookstore and do a signing event. I also met some other authors and bought books from them.
Sadly, I did not make up the money I spent to register ($50), since I only brought in $35 during the festival. Given that fact, was it worth it to drive 1 ¼ hours each way and sit outside for 6 hours? I think I have to say “yes.”
Whenever an author can get out and about is a good thing. We spend a lot of time with our laptops and on social media. Of course, being on our laptops is critical (or with a pencil and paper if you’re old school). I mean, how do you think we get our books written? Ya gotta do the work, people.
As for social media, it is required these days. However, I have to wonder if blogging and being a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and all those other social media outlets really help all that much. And yet, common wisdom out there dictates that an author needs to be on social media, so I do what I need to do.
Dan talking art with our next door neighbor at the Collingswood Book Festival.
There is nothing like being face-to-face with people, though. I am at heart an introvert. But because I am a pastor of sorts, I also have learned how to be an extrovert. I guess I’ve become an extroverted introvert. The good news is skills I learned working in parish ministry have carried over into my life as an author.
I really enjoy meeting readers and other authors. Although I may start out giving a “spiel” about my books to a semi-interested party, if the other person shows more interest, we can get into a great conversation. One of the people who stopped to talk to me on Saturday was passionate about historical fiction. She said she never liked history until she discovered historical fiction. I sympathize with her. My high school history text books were dead boring. I told her that history is actually stories about people and cultures and societies. Good historical fiction is able to draw readers in so that they care about the characters and their world. And, if the author is careful to be as accurate as possible with the facts, readers just might learn a little history in the process.
Sometimes, however, I feel as if I’m in a high school filled with authors and one’s genre determines popularity. That statement is kind of self-revealing on my part. I was never with the “in crowd” in high school and probably was perceived as a major geek. I suppose being an author-geek is a weird extension of my high school self. Life is funny that way.
My genre’s popularity status was evident at the festival. I saw little in the way of historical fiction at the other booths. There were piles of paranormal and fantasy material, some crime fiction, and a few authors offering material for children. There also were memoirs, autobiographies, and stories about overcoming difficulties. I did not, however, get to peruse the entire street full of vendors, since I had to get back to my own booth and rescue Dan before he was forced to make a sale.
A shot of the tents and tables that ran down Haddon Avenue, in Collingswood, NJ.
Despite my “non-popular” genre, I love a challenge. In addition, I have a faith-full, focused heroine (Maggie) and her free-thinking, devoted husband (Eli). They are the kind of people who could push the series out of invisibility. In fact, I might just have to take my cues from them.
My next event is coming up in a week and a half: I’ll be doing a reading and Q & A at the Lahaska Bookshop on Thursday, October 18 from 6-8 p.m. After that, I’ll be back at Schaefer Farms on Saturday, December 1 for Art Under the Pavilion from 10:00-4:00 p.m. I’m looking forward to meeting and chatting with more readers, authors, and other vendors in the coming weeks.
Being an author isn’t easy, but it can be rewarding in so many ways, even if you don’t sell a pile of books. For those who are aspiring authors, remember that! For those who are readers, stop by a booth when at a book fair and talk to the author. Maybe even buy a book. You just might make their day.
See you Wednesday.
Janet Stafford, Squeaking Pips Founder