The highs and lows of book selling can give you whiplash. One minute a reader says, “Your series looks terrific, I’ll take all three” and your heart swells with happiness. An hour later, it’s pouring rain, you haven’t sold a book in an hour, and you start to wonder if it’s worth. And by it, I mean the whole novel writing experience. Because novel writing and selling books are intrinsically linked.
If you want people to read them, that is.
I attended my first Printers Row Lit Fest last weekend and spent two eight-hour days on my feet (on concrete) hand-selling my series. Overall, it was a worthwhile experience. I hung out with a bunch writers in the Echelon booth, and the social networking aspect was terrific. I roomed and tabled with Both Solheim (author of the Sadie Witt series) and she made laugh at times when I wanted to cry.
At one point on Sunday, it rained so hard we covered everything and pulled the tables in. The customers all took cover too and no books exchanged hands for a while. About that time, a blues band nearby started to play so Beth and I danced to keep warm. She got a few of the guys to dance too for a minute too. It was a great “dancing in the rain” experience. Finding joy in an otherwise dreary moment.
I’m still surprised by how much hand-selling authors have to do: books signings, book fairs, festivals, speaking events, etc. Overall, I enjoy telling readers about my work, but it’s also exhausting and sometimes doesn’t pay well by the hour. The long-term, cumulative benefits are real but impossible to measure. At Printers Row, I handed out hundreds of bookmarks and talked to hundreds of people about my series, so a lot of people in Chicago know about me now when they didn’t before.
Raising my level of awareness, one reader at time.