A Book Fair

This past weekend I participated in the Book Fair sponsored by Virginia’s Festival of the Book, which operates under the umbrella of the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  Charlottesville is fortunate to have had this great Festival held right here for eighteen years. The Book Fair took place in the Omni Hotel atrium and despite a rainy day the event was well attended.  Several other events and a luncheon were scheduled at the hotel that day so we had the benefit of a continuous flow of foot traffic which, to our disappointment, failed to result in a volume of sales.

As an exhibiting author I have to begin by stating unequivocally I found it to be a great deal of work which, on the surface, produced small gain.  However, on closer examination I realize I learned a number of things and also made some contacts.  I got ideas on how to word my handout to include a lowering of the price for that day only, so as not to annoy those who may already have purchased at the regular price.  A gentleman sharing our table introduced me to a tiny device that can be plugged into my iphone and accept credit card payments.  These things are perhaps helpful only if I decide to try a future book fair, but they are certainly interesting.

My dear friend and partner in book promotion was most creative in her suggestions for how to stage our half of the table.  That all went quite well, although it did require three bricks, a sturdy board patched with cardboard, and two yards of red felt.  She says the only thing we missed was a dish of candy kisses to entice those strolling by.  Well, maybe next time.

I spent some time talking with representatives of a book publishing company located here in Charlottesville.  Although I am basically satisfied with the services at Createspace I will continue to be aware of other opportunities.  One aspect of Createspace that works for me is the print-on-demand feature.  I don’t have to order a large run of books and then worry about how and where to distribute them.

I spoke with another self-publisher who encouraged me to approach area branches of Barnes and Noble to see if I could set up a book talk and get copies on the shelf there.  I admit I need more than a slight push or shove in this direction.  I have not found it comfortable to sell my own product, although I’m truly proud of my two novels and have had great responses from readers of both.  I was also encouraged to try a plan called Kindle Select that gives Amazon an exclusive right to sell and/or give away your ebook.  Amazingly, this apparently can raise the sales of your print titles, and if enough copies are snapped up, you rise in Amazon standing.  I was offered this program several months back but turned it down.  Perhaps it deserves another look.

I sold five books, two of the Menokin story and three of Caissons, but two of them were to my houseguests.  All in all, I guess that’s good.  The man sharing our table with a book on management sold four, and my friend’s book The River Me, a charming series of vignettes about the old days in a Rappahannock river town sold three.

With my three friends, we had fun sharing a new experience together.  The evening show at the Paramount Theatre with authors Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle and singers Marshall Chapman and Mattraca Berg was terrific!  Even getting caught in a downpour and running two blocks to the parking lot was fun.  Is there a better way to spend a weekend?



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