So the first bank holiday weekend has come and gone and i thought I should share some of the joy with you.
Of course the opposite to joy is what depression, anger, frustration, boredom. All four were part of the selling experience this weekend. It was my unfortunate experience to encounter one really sad man who wanted to vent his own negativity on those near him. Initially I tried to rise above his tiresomeness but eventually at the Hop farm I came to realise what he was feeling. While at Chilham our frustration was simply down to the organisers lack of motivation. Which was strange because at their previous fairs they had been so upbeat and positive. I know as humans we are all due down days but when running a business you have to reflect a persona of positivity even if your hurting inside. As one of my fellow stall holders said, "negativity spreads like the plague," and by God did it spread yesterday.
Very bad signage was the first indication of what to expect, that and the word from those who had been there before that it never got going before noon made the first couple of hours daunting. Steadfastly your hero stood, smiled and greeted the few visitors who trickled in. While our hosts sat and drank tea and chatted with their friends and family. What they do is their own business, but when we had paid to be there the least we could expect were a few cheery words and some motivation. They should look to their selves and the way the run such events before they lose what good name they have.Still the fudge people kept me happy, Mick and Kaye were lovely while their samples were divine.
Eventually customers began to arrive and beneath the withering glare of the other stall holders Kaye and myself fell into our spiel. Perhaps this was wrong, maybe we should have sat silently and waited for the customers to come to us? Not how I work, you have to be out going and draw people into a conversation. Remain silent and seated and you portray an impression of not being interested. The two of us were kindred spirit, we worked the crowd, we began to make sales. As many of you will know I am an ex plumber not a salesman but I can speak to people, once I have engaged with them it is me that either makes or losses the sale and that I can live with. Usually I can convince enough that Dead Men Lie is worthy of reading. I will never convince those with short arms and deep pockets, or those who perhaps can't understand the concept of buying books direct from the author. They are beyond convincing but I can live with them, I simply smile, say thank you and look for the next customer.
What galls me are the young, the intelligent who say "I don't read" then stand reading the literature about the book before moving on. A simple "thanks but no thanks" would suffice. I can even appreciate the talker, those who desire to extol the merits of what I am doing, who discover all about how the book was devised and how I wrote it and even the size of my underpants before saying, "thanks I 'll think about it". Half an hour wasted while other potential buyers have passed by. However one poor soul who appeared unable to raise the cost of a cup of tea did so engage with me. Eventually he did walk off without buying, but this morning he had sent an e-mail ordering five copies of the book. So the time spent with him was indeed worthwhile. We had some laughs as well, one lady appeared interested was about to buy, I had her in the palm of my hand when she spoke. "Oh I wish I hadn't bought this child's cardigan because the two will make my bag simply too heavy to carry." Come on I know DML is a weighty tome but its not that bad.
During a lull in the influx of customers (an hour) Mike and myself went into Chilham to drum up some interest. We found them, lots of potential buyers sitting in the sun drinking tea and beer totally unaware that 200 yards away we were struggling for customers. Bad advertising once again had done for us. Our organisers should have been doing what we did.
So overall what of the weekend, well thanks to sales yesterday we were in profit, we sold fourteen books handed out lots of leaflets and will have to wait to see if E-book sales increase. Would I go back to either event, no. craft fairs are a little clique of friends who are more interested in catching up with what everyone is doing than actually selling. One woman sat all day without selling a thing. Why because her stock failed to arrive? Why she remained and didn't simply go home was a mystery until you realised this was her day out seeing her mates. Thankfully Kaye has e-mailed me details of events they attend which she thinks would be beneficial to me. I will rethink my strategy and reorganise. DML is too good a story to languish in the bargain bucket bin. I shall get the new stall built which will give the book some visual impact. Personally I must rethink my selling technique, after three fairs I realise that I sometime's stumble on that initial "Whats it all about" I need a one line hook with which to draw the reader in. It will come, hopefully not too late for this summer. Oh yes and one last buyer was a new author gathering tips. I am afraid he got more than he bargained for when the told me he was going to give a couple of hundred books away for free. Why do people do this? I hope I talked him out of it. Even Kaye said she would never give away fudge, samples yes but not an entire book full.
There you are a few lessons learnt and if I have shown the errors I made to you the potential new author than my work is done. Writing is easy, its the publicity and the apathy which we have to overcome, that is where the hard work begins. Those lucky authors who have agents, publishers and publicists never have to experience what we, the self publisher, have to endure. One day perhaps I will reach those heady heights, if I do, I hope I will never forget the hard work that was involved, or the amount of apathy I had to break down to get a book known. Until the next time my friends keep writing