Yesterday I had a table at the Bay Area Book Festival. It was only their third year of operation, and I think they may still be struggling with organizing themselves and figuring out what kind of festival they really want to be, but over all it was a good time. Well, except really windy. I couldn’t lay out all my swag because of the wind, and the umbrella I rented for shade was useless because when I tried to open it, it kept taking flight and attempting to decapitate people. So most of us authors—at least on my stretch—caught some sun.
Ah, well. I had a nice time and I’m glad I went. The entire week leading up to the event I had a sense of dread about the whole thing. This is typical for me, though. I’m always nervous to the point of feeling sick when it comes to this stuff. I like meeting people and chatting, so I don’t know what the psychological speed bump is that tells me, every time, that it’s going to be terrible and awful and no good and very bad.
I had great table neighbors at least. On my right were Papa Mike and his merry crew. He has a children’s book about a sailor and a mermaid that’s actually an Irish chanty. He would sing the song for kids when they stopped by. On my left were D.L. Dugger and her husband, and I really enjoyed chatting with them. I must also thank both them and Papa Mike’s folks for seeing me through by getting me sandwiches and offering water.
Thanks, too, to screenwriting fellow Paul for taking time to swing by and show his support. It felt good to see a friendly face in the crowds.
As for foot traffic, it varied. The first half of the day had a lot of young families but not many people looking for the kinds of books I write. After lunch, however, I garnered more interest from passers-by. Gave away a lot of swag that I hope means people will be looking me up. Received many compliments on my purple hair. (But when people saw my business card they were confused, which tells me I definitely need a new author photo!) Sold three books, which doesn’t sound like much but it’s better than nothing and on par with what other tables around me were selling. So I counted the day a modest success. Any time you get your name and information out there into the hands of readers, that’s something. I just think maybe this particular festival did not draw as many serious readers as it did young families and curious wanderers.
However, I had many an author come chat about my journey through self-publishing and small presses, and I’m always happy to answer questions. (I hesitate to give advice, though, because I can only testify to my personal experience.) Usually I point people at a number of sites and organizations that have helped me as an author.
Would I do this event again? I might wait until it grew a little more and better defined itself and figured out what it really is. I think there’s definite potential, but it’s still in the gangly, awkward stage. But I’m always grateful for opportunities, especially when they allow me to meet fellow authors and make new friends.