So this past weekend was my first book fair, but before I tell you how it went, let me tell you how I thought it had a real possibility of going. When it comes to work or business, I worry about the things that can go bad and let the things that go good, care for themselves. It’s a habit. For me it’s a way of making sure that everything goes as well as it should, but also, it lends itself to a sense of negativity that can be perceived by those around me as a downer. Truth be told, it isn’t a downer, it’s paranoia, and my greatest fear was that I wouldn’t sell a single book.
Now for the update. The morning drive to the venue couldn’t be better, weather-wise. It’s Florida, in March, need I say more? But for me none of that mattered, the car could breakdown, there could be a traffic accident, there could be an overzealous highway patrolman, or a simple flat tire. Any one, or combination of all, could and probably would, cause my first public appearance as a published author, to be ruined.
The forty-five minute journey took over an hour due to the fact that on a Saturday morning, when traffic should be light, it wasn’t. Good thing I thought about that and left a few minutes early. Unfortunately, each and every traffic signal along the way had a fully functional L. Davyd Pollack approach detector, which timed the switch from green to red in a perfectly choreographed display of delay. Fortunately, I worried about that too and my early departure time accounted for it. The entire trip was long and excruciating, and made even longer by the longest train on record that reached the railroad crossing just in time to light the flashing stop signals, and drop the barricade bars right in front of me. I did not account for that but alas; we arrived right on time, maybe five minutes later than planned but as they say, good enough for government work.
Then it was time for us to set up the display table and it all went very smoothly, which should have been a hint of impending doom. With a place for everything and everything in its place, the display table looked great, inviting, but not intimidating. When I looked at it from the front, I thought to myself, this is a table I would buy a book from. I was relieved—but my relief was fleeting. When I originally registered for the book fair, I specifically inquired about access to electric. Part of my presentation was to have my Kindle ready and waiting to show off my website/blog, and how easy it is to buy my books online. I was assured that there would be access to power and to my great surprise, there was. Only one problem, the access was twenty feet away and the extension cord that I brought just in case access to electric wasn’t as accessible as advertized, was only fifteen feet long. And the downward spiral begins.
However, defeat was not to be snatched from victory so easily. Thanks to the help of fellow author, R. L. Austin and his six-foot multiple-plug extension cord, my power problem evaporated. Thank you R. L.
There I was, front and center sitting behind my first book fair display ever, ready to take the ultimate insult, the biggest slap in the face an author can experience. That being, not selling even one copy of the marvelous book I poured my heart and soul into for the past ten years. The fair opened at 10:00 a.m. and at first nothing, but what do you know, a few minutes later a customer approached. I was nervous, real nervous and my presentation was a little stilted, and then, the customer nodded and moved on. It was okay though, first time jitters and all. Being in sales (one of my real life jobs), I knew there would be more chances to screw up and moments later, there were.
Shortly after, another potential fan walked up and heard a more polished version of my spiel, then pulled out his wallet and bought. I don’t know for sure, and of course, I can’t prove it, but I think there’s an excellent chance that I made the first sale of the book fair. My greatest fear evaporated just as easily as my power problem. A few minutes after that, I think I may have made the second sale of the book fair. And guess what. I sold the second book to that poor gentleman who had to endure my stumbling and stilted first pitch. He walked around to all the tables and after giving everyone a once over, came back to me. All I can say is WOW.
At this time, it should be pointed out that I’ve said us and we, not just me. This isn’t a mistake. My girlfriend Miranda, along with her son and daughter, joined me for this momentous opportunity to fail. The kids are still too young to stay home alone. Though I was fully aware that witnesses to my potential failure could only serve to make the experience worse, it was a good thing they were there. First and foremost, I wouldn’t be alone should I totally embarrass myself, and second, they were a great help. Her son took it upon himself to make sure that the sales force had all the promotional supplies they needed, and her daughter (the aforementioned sales force), used those supplies to the best of her ability. Thanks again guys.
In sales, there’s a saying and it goes something like this. He/she can sell ice to an Eskimo. Having been in sales, I knew many people who claimed they could. I never actually met anyone who had a snowball’s chance in H—Florida of doing so. That is, until yesterday. After watching Miranda’s daughter work, all I have to say is Eskimos, beware . . . and don’t forget to hide your wallets. By the way, it won’t do you any good. You’re going to buy the ice, but if you make it too easy, the poor child gets bored.
Suffice it to say that halfway through the fair, when many of my co-authors had already packed it in for the day, L. Davyd Pollack and his dedicated sales force (headed by mom Miranda, an excellent networker), were still closing deals and moving books. All in all, it was an outstanding success for me as a new author/publisher.
Now, to put things in perspective, I didn’t sell out. At the end of the day, I still had a box of books about two thirds of the way full, which I gladly had to load back into the car. Why gladly? Because, when I arrived that morning to set up the display table, I brought in two boxes, both full.
Thanks to everyone, especially all my new fans. I couldn’t have done it without you.