Sunday, April 22, 2018

Signing in the Rain

     What authors do to sell their books! March in Louisiana is fair and festival season, primarily because the weather usually fine, clear, warm, but not too warm. It's the best time to promote my books, too. I signed up for four events to do so, one a wonderful arts and crafts fair where I usually sell a number of books and sometimes small pieces of art. Setup must be completed by nine, and the fair runs until four o'clock.  It's a long but worth it day most years, and I don't have to pay for my space. This year, the first weekend in March was simply freezing. I bundled up, but found doing my setup too hard with gloves and was fumble-fingered hanging the art and doing my book display. I finally settled into my chair, threw a blanket over my legs, drank some of the hot tea I'd brought along, and consoled myself with a cookie purchased from one of the vendors.  Of course, customers did not venture out until almost noon when it warmed up. I had all my sales then and met a bunch of people who might buy later, but the whole time prayed I wouldn't get walking pneumonia again as I did at a chilly event in December.  Not doing anything outdoors in December again--though it can be warm here. You never know.
     Event number two took place on a week night to entertain six hundred visiting bicycle riders--who after riding forty miles really had no interest in art or reading. My husband was scheduled to set up his telescope for sun viewing. I said I'd put up my tables nearby as he usually has a line and hope for the best. Clouds closed in and threatened rain. My husband packed his telescope and helped me drag my tables under a nearby awning in front of an office in case it rained.  It did. While huddled there, again with hot tea from my thermos to ward off the damp, a woman approached and asked what I am doing there and who am I?  I replied, "Participating in the art walk and taking shelter from the rain."
     "Well, my boss wants to see some ID."  I gave her my business card.  She asked if all my info was correct. Yes. They wouldn't do me much good if it wasn't. She contacts her boss in the bowels of the office building--which is closed. He wants to see my driver's license. I get it out, and she photographs it and me. Now, I have lived in this town over thirty years and know a lot of people. First time
 I've ever been treated like a criminal, especially since I'd been asked to participate. I'd had enough and said I'd pack up and leave.  Oh, no, now I can stay.  I did for another hour. Had one sale to a rider who bought my shortest book for his wife--because he has to tote it in his backpack. Nice guy from California.  The sky grows dark again. I pack up as a misty rain falls. I do believe this is my last participation in a cycling event. Just not worth the hassle and being hassled. And by the way, public sidewalk, and I was not blocking his door or the right of way. Guy was a lawyer--figures.
     Event number three was several days later, a literary festival with fifty authors lining the main street and offering every kind of book for sale. I was set up in my paid spot between an interesting mystery writer from New Orleans with an impressive setup and tent and a self-published friend with a card table and no canopy. Not wanting a repeat of the last rainy venue, I'd brought mine. Supposedly, my tarp can be set up by one person--one very tall and strong person, which I am not. My husband raised it with the help of the fellow from New Orleans. I set up my display and waited. Some traffic, not much interest, and weather that turned cold and threatened rain. I had my first sale around noon when the hospitality committee brought us all a nice lunch of pasta and chicken salad and a cookie, but I kind of wished it were nice hot gumbo. Again, saved by that thermos of hot tea. An hour later, the wind is whipping and a drizzly rain if falling. Those without tarps pack up and go home. We were supposed to be out there until three. I call home for help getting the tarp down and begin to pack. Suddenly, two people who said they'd come back and buy later (they rarely do) rush up and buy a total of seven books. In one case, I had unpack to find the ones she wanted, but I did appreciate the sale. I'm home by one-thirty, as I think most of the writers were, and had a nice, cozy afternoon where I actually got some writing done instead of trying to sell it. 
     The last event, thank heaven, was indoors at a library. The authors were clustered in a rear meeting room which library patrons avoided. Mostly we visited each other, and some of the newly published had their families show up. For me, a three hour round trip drive and one sale, but I did hand out a lot of cards and appeared to score some sales on Amazon later. At least, I wasn't cold and damp.
      So aspiring authors, this could be your life. Think you can just stay home and write?  Nope, you have to put yourself out there to get noticed.  Be sure to buy a canopy of your own because you might be signing in the rain!