shopping-in-the-rain1The 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.

Marlis, Pam, Beth, and I sell books at Printers Row.

Marlis, Pam, Beth, and I sell books at Printers Row.

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.

Beth Solheim and Sam Morton dance while it rains.

Beth Solheim and Sam Morton dance while it rains.

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.

  1. Hi L.J.
    I enjoyed meeting you at Printers Row, also my first time. Now I can put faces with many of the names I see on the Echelon sites. I would love for you to send me the picure of the four of us for my blog. Please send as an attachment to

  2. It is so difficult to say what works and what doesn’t but I have to say that all authors should consider these types of events “worth it.” It isn’t just about the cost of airfare, hotel, and food, along with your registration. Authors should consider that the price of advertising. That’s what you are doing.

    Selling is key, you will never bee a best seller if you don’t sell. And think about it like this. If YOUR name is on the best seller list, shouldn’t YOU be the one that sales those (or the majority of those) books? Otherwise, I think it would only be fair to put the bookstore that sold the most on that best seller list. The call it best SELLING for a reason.

    L.J. and the rest of the crowd were inspiring this past weekend at Printers Row. They went through things that would melt the average Joe, but they all stood proud and enthusiastic in their quest to sell books. I applaud L.J. and all who did it.

    L.J. is a great example of what an author should do, she is tireless and it is paying off for her. I strongly urge you to give her books a read. You will NOT be the least bit sorry, she is an incredible writer.

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