All the other authors and publishers whom I talked to over the three days of the Christmas Market agreed – as an author, and none of us being of the NY Times best-seller class – it is profitable and much less dispiriting to do an event like a Christmas craft fair in company with a bunch of other authors. Much less foully dispiriting than doing a single-author event at a book-store, which is usually total ego-death-onna-stick. First and most importantly of all – customers with money and the intention of spending it are plentiful at a craft fair or a similar community market event, especially in the holiday gift-giving season. Trust me; many of them can see books as the perfect gift, and they are inclined to buy. Secondly – it’s a venue where one is in completion with vendors of a wide variety of consumer items – not every other published author on the shelves. And thirdly – in the slack times, there are other authors to talk to.
Seriously, nothing quite beats the tedium of sitting alone at the Dreaded Author Table in a not-very-well-frequented bookstore, and watching the occasional customer slink into the store trying to avoid your eye. Or worse still, at a large and popular chain bookstore, observing them heading into the computer games or DVD movie section. Which is the trouble with the Hastings chain, as I experienced and other authors concur; the staff are wonderfully helpful, great about ordering and stocking the books, but alas, the client base usually is there for the games, the music and the movies, eschewing the printed word generally. Not even libraries are proof against this; another author told me of participating at a local author event staged at a big public library. He and the other hopeful authors watched as a large crowd assembled out side the library, every one of them anticipating that they would have a wonderful and author-life-affirming event … only to see that every one of those in line headed straight for the library computers.
Yes, the Author’s Life (especially as a not-very-well-known indy author) is full of little kicks to the ego as this – but an event that sells out half the stock of books that one arrived with, is indoors, well-publicized in advance, and mostly-well-attended (although Sunday afternoon slacked off considerably) and having the organizers being quite generous and helpful – this is one well worth recollecting with fondness and returning to again. The good volunteers for the Weihnachtsmarkt even had a vendor’s lounge, stocked with coffee and ice water and all sorts of home-made pastries and baked delights. New Braunfels is Little Germany – they DO that kind of thing here! The whole event is to benefit the local historical museum, the Sophienburg – and it did draw a good crowd. My daughter was afraid that I had pretty well tapped out the market for the Trilogy in New Braunfels; not so, as there were a fair number of fans who came and bought the follow-up books (Daughter of Texas and Deep in the Heart), or asked impatiently about the next book, and even two who bought the German translation as a gift for friends and family who would appreciate a German translation of the first of the Trilogy. In between all these high points though – I spent time studying the interior architecture of the New Braunfels Civic Center, briefly wandering down the hallway to other author tables and the occasional quick foray into the main sales floors. The shops set up in the main ballroom and the annex all featured a great many lovely things that I just cannot quite yet afford.
Ah, well – someday.