At the book festival

A drive through the bright winter morning to sell my books at a book fair in the lovely Cotswold town of Evesham. Unfortunately when I got there I found no punters – plenty of other authors but nobody actually wanting to buy books.

This isn’t unusual for small press authors, events like this are often hit and miss. It’s in no way the organisers’ fault – they had made sure there was plenty of publicity both in the local media and by word of mouth, but sometimes, people just don’t come. Perhaps because of the location or the timing or whatever. So instead of talking to readers the authors talk to each other.

One thing I am noticing more and more at these events is that the trend towards self-publishing really has taken hold. I think I was one of just a handful of the 20 or so writers in the room who actually has small press publishers for their books. Everybody else had decided to go D.I.Y. Either literally doing it themselves or often paying a publishing service for the work which would previously have been supplied by a traditional publisher.

They end up with a bill up front by doing it this way but they get to decide exactly when books come out, how they look and so on. And so long as they can pay off the costs of publication through sales and break into profit it works for them financially too.

Personally I still prefer to have a publisher as a partner, they do their bit, I do mine, they take on the initial costs and we share what profits there are. I don’t want to be a publisher, I want to be a writer, so I’m quite happy with the division of labour, even though finding a suitable and willing publisher to take your work can be a chore.

There’s no right and wrong way of publishing I don’t think – you find the best way of doing it for you.

It was also interesting to hear a novel sales technique one writer has found for his novels. He takes a stall in the local market and sells signed copies to the passing shoppers that way. This sounded quite fun, and entrepreneurial. Did it work for him financially? Not really it transpired, he didn’t lose money but didn’t make much either. He pretty much broke even, despite all the hard work. But he was putting his books out there into the hands of readers, painstakingly making a reputation for himself one book at a time. Isn’t that the story for all of us small authors?

So we all chatted, ate cake, drank tea. It’s nice to have a gathering of authors now and again given that writing is a solitary business.

Some authors spend lots of time doing events like this – they dress their stalls up nicely and have quite elaborate stuff to give away – info cards, little gifts etc – what the Americans call ‘swag’.

I don’t have any of that except some bookmarks the publisher gave me to promote The Pick-Up Artist. I don’t make it along to to many of these events either. You find that often it’s the older authors who are more active with this kind of thing – those who have retired and have the time and head space to do it.

For me there’s still the full-time day job, the teenagers and of course writing in the queue before attending events.

Still I enjoyed this one, even though I didn’t sell any books.

My latest book The Pick-Up Artist is out on Kindle and paperback. If you have enjoyed this post please take a look, try a free sample, and see what you think! To take a look click here 

‘Loved this book, a bloke’s view of the dating game, made me laugh out loud.’

4 thoughts on “At the book festival”

  1. We had a ‘pop up bookshop ( coffe and cakes )’ at home on Sunday, howling gales and rain, lots of people ill or doing other things, but some friends and neighbours came – 7 to be precise. Sold 6 books, Cyberspouse got carrried away with his baking, so probably spent more on cakes than we got back from the books. But as it was also a good get together with people we least expected to come, who were not writers and took an interest in my writing and our Independent Publishing House we were pleased.
    It is just this year we have started publishing my boooks as papeerbacks through Amazon Kindle. Previously we had tried book launches, but visitors would eat the cake, go home and not download my books!
    Since Sunday other people have expressed regret at not being able to come, so I’m sure we’ll have another go.

    1. Sounds fun, I think the market online, through Amazon, has become so crowded these days that writers are looking for any way they can to find a little space for their books.

  2. Chris, my experience with these events is the same. I’ve actually given up and focus more on online sales now and being active in online book groups. But the events are fun to go to! It’s good to do them now and then. I’ve also thought about taking a market stall, but I’m not sure if it would be worthwhile in a non English market. I might try it one of these days, though.

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