Under the Marquee

This would be the first signing that wasn't one of "my" events, it would be me at a table supporting the Torrington Library, along with a couple of other local authors to sign and sell books. I had no idea what to expect and, like the Boy Scout I never was, I decided to come prepared! I had chairs and bottled water, snacks in a cooler, sunscreen, posters, a box of books, a bag of bookmarks, spare cardboard, a variety of pens and most importantly: duct tape (don't leave home without it)! Thus encumbered, I set up my corner of the dual-tables under the marquee of the Warner Theater and waited for things to start happening. The good news was that I didn't have to wait for long, I had both good company and a huge crowd appear as if by magic in a matter of minutes; the bad news was that only strange, creepy old men seemed to stop by the tables asking we bemused children's authors whether our books were free or whether we'd put any online criminal law into our stories.

It was going to be a long night.

But I was up for the challenge! Chatting with my fellow authors, random pedestrians, and the rep from the indie bookstore that had come to my Luminous Summer ice cream event was fun, but then it got depressing/boring watching all of these people going by without even a glance our way. I'm an extrovert with a Ren Faire/improv theater background, so I started looking for things to throw, set on fire, or otherwise make a spectacle of myself. I settled on grabbing handfuls of my glossy bookmarks and handing them out to meandering teenagers. This went fairly well as far as getting some free distribution (these kids circled the fair two or three or four times) and opening up conversations about my book. However, I did learn that maybe using the words "It's a paranormal fantasy" doesn't work as one girl responded by sniffing the bookmark. I stared at her.

"Um, it doesn't smell. It's just a bookmark," I said. "For a book."

It struck me that she must have thought "Paranormal Fantasy" was a new fragrance. I sat back down.

More walking, more waiting, more small talk. I tapped my hands on the cover, I made the book dance on the table, I wondered if I could juggle them, then thought better of it. I got up a few times to hand out more bookmarks. I got up one time to attach a hastily-sketched illustrated sign saying: ANGELS, BLOOD, MYSTERY, ROMANCE, BONES! and duct taped it at head-height to a street sign. (Don't laugh, it worked!) But it was much for naught--even people who seemed genuinely interested in the book didn't have that much cash or didn't want to haul a book around for the whole of the street fair so, luckily, I could tell them it was available at Amazon, B&N.com, and their local indies, but I know that the best intentions rarely equal a sale in your hand. With one sale by 7pm, I was beginning to call it a day.

My first sale was a keeper, though: this fan was so busy reading my book, her grandmother stopped back at the table to tell me that her granddaughter had been reading since she got it, loved it, and hadn't walked into any poles yet!
P.S. You can see the edge of the cardboard sign behind her head. Note the duct tape!

As is always the way of these things, I *did* manage to sell three more books just as I was packing up to leave, which I happily signed and dated. That brought my grand total up to five books in four hours, not including the two-hour round-trip drive. And yet...it was kind of worth it. After feeling kind of crappy about Bookscan numbers and stubborn WIPs, to be able to talk to real people and see their eyes light up when I talked about what my book was about was really nice, it was a gorgeous day with not too much sun and a steady breeze, hundreds of great people for People-Watching, and I got to meet fellow Elevensie, Tommy Greenwald!


At the end of the night, I was smiling; I had made some sales, been interviewed by the local radio station, pitched a workshop class to my indie bookseller, loaded my car in three trips without needing to wait for the car line, and headed home feeling just a little bit more like a real, live author. Which I am. Really! It says so right there on the cover!

And that's how I left it under the marquee.

Me + Book = Smile!


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