Author Appearance After-Action Report

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I thought this title was nicely official sounding and also just alliterative enough.

Honestly, this article's kind of dull even by my standards, unless you like small town festivals, and maybe even then. But I did post here when I was going into our three day appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival, so I suppose it's only fair that I report on the results.

Anyway, the longest book signing in history, featuring two introverted people who are averse to crowds and noise but went to a festival, is over. Emily, my wife, laid out our display table after telling me to go do something else, which tells you all about my organizational skills. Here's a photo of the table with Emily and a guest who stopped by: My father, Delbert. They're munching on caramel corn at this moment, which we'll talk more about later.

 

I just realized how much my dad reminds me here of the title character from Weekend at Bernie's.


The first surprise was when we were setting up on vendor's row, and I discovered my cousin had a booth right next to us. (I bought some antique coins from him.) In this photo that's his place on the left.



Then it turned out one of the people on the other side from us was a woman I used to work with in the EMS. Ah, small town life. Unfortunately for me, they were selling (among other things) some truly yummy chocolatey stuff. Then the Noble County Gas and Steam Association set up across from us and started making caramel corn ... from scratch, in an actual kettle.


 Is this in any way fair to a guy who needs to make dollars, not gain pounds? Don't even get me started on the bacon, lettuce, and deep fried green tomato sandwiches they were selling down the way.

We were within sight of the stage, and over a three day period were treated to, among other things, bluegrass, 80s glam rock, country, rap, and the kiddie queen and king contest. Below is a long distance photo of Cougar Hunters, who I take it were hunting not large cats but older women.


 There was also a festival going on, and every once in awhile I got to walk around and take a look, although of course not so much at the busy times.


 

 Car show, too. Maybe I'll do more of a post on that later.

 


So, how did we do book sale-wise? Well, the first two days were kind of a disappointment, by which I mean a substantial disappointment. Still, by the end of the second day we broke even on our one-time expenses. By the middle of the third day we'd made up what we spent on other things, like the canopy and a folding table of our very own.

If it had been a typical three or four hour book signing, I'd be crowing about the sales we made. Spread out over three days it wasn't so spectacular, but we did well Saturday afternoon and evening. We also got some bites--gave away business cars and bookmarks to people who, hopefully, will go on the website, or Amazon, or B&N, and make some purchases. That's one of the reasons we do public appearances anyway: to get the word out. I also got to do a blurb on the local radio station, the irony being that my newest novel is about a local radio station.

The one thing I've found strange is that so far we haven't sold all that many copies of Radio Red -- the newest release. But that will come, unless it doesn't.

Comments

Phil Greenough Added Jul 2, 2017 - 6:23am
C’mon, did you really think people were going to buy a lot of books?  I’ve been to quite a few festivals over my life and never once have I come across a table where someone was trying to sell books.  So you should be honest about the reason you were there, it was to find people who wish to read your books.  Even now, you’re submitting articles to this site where I can only deduce that the purpose is also to find people who wish to read your books.  There is a fine line between passion and obsession and your wife deserves a lot of credit for supporting it.  So if you want to make some dollars at the next festival, sell sausages or baked goods. 
Leroy Added Jul 2, 2017 - 8:09am
Thanks for the update.
 
"We also got some bites--gave away business cars and bookmarks to people who, hopefully, will go on the website, or Amazon, or B&N, and make some purchases. "
 
If I knew you were giving aways cars, I would have shown up and given you a plug.
John Minehan Added Jul 2, 2017 - 12:31pm
"I also got to do a blurb on the local radio station, the irony being that my newest novel is about a local radio station."
 
Now you can advertise it as Meta-fiction without violating the Lanham Act.
John Minehan Added Jul 2, 2017 - 12:35pm
"Anyway, the longest book signing in history, featuring two introverted people who are averse to crowds and noise but went to a festival, is over."
 
Given that most authors are probably more INTJ than not, that has to be a recurring problem in publishing.
 
Maybe at the Steven King/John Gresham level there are people who facilitate these things? 
John Minehan Added Jul 2, 2017 - 12:44pm
in the sprit of my last question about fried dough, is "Carmel Corn" like what New Yorkers call "Kettle Corn?" 
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:07am
Well, Phil, I can only deduce that you didn't read the article too closely, and didn't read the previous one at all. But you're right about one thing: Of course I was there to find people to read my books! That was the whole point of going, to get the word out, that's why they call it an "author appearance". I don't understand at what point I wasn't being honest about that. And the reason I decided to accept the invite and try it is exactly because I'd never heard of anyone doing it before.
 
But no, I didn't think people were going to guy a lot of books there, which was also my point--I was surprised that I made some sales, and surprised again that my meeting and greeting there led to a slight increase in online sales, too. I've had book signings at actual book stores that garnered less interest than this one did.
 
But you're dead wrong about why I'm on WB. My books are light entertainment: fiction of the romantic comedy and young adult variety, local and state history, humor and alleged humor. Very little politics (although I did once spend a chapter making fun of Obama), less talk about economics, foreign policy, or climate change, no heavy, argumentative tomes. Surely you've been here long enough to realize those who frequent WB are deadly serious, focused on their cause or position, and much more ready for a fight than a laugh.
 
Granted that I was talked into staying here by some members who think we need a little pointless levity, from time to time. Just the same, from the moment I first got here there was one thing I was certain of: Nobody on WB has any interest whatsoever in ever buying any of my books. But if you decide to prove me wrong, let me know and I'll send you a link.
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:09am
For once, I didn't get a D! Oh, Leroy, you should have seen those cars. I drive a Ford Escape, which I like very much, but the hub caps on some of those classic cars are worth more than my entire ride.
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:32am
John, I suppose the other irony is that I came up with the idea for my newest novel while I was a part time DJ at what was, at the time, the only other radio station in our county. Naturally, I didn't mention that in the interview. But in any case, I have a secret love for meta-fiction.
 
Being unfamiliar with the term INTJ, I did some research: I don't think I really match that type, although my wife's somewhat closer to it than I am. Apparently we're "just" introverts. But you're absolutely right: Hugely successful authors have people who take care of that kind of planning and arrangements for them. That's reason enough to aim for some measure of success! I picture my assistant as Natasha Romanoff from Iron Man 2: Efficient, a good gateway, and a great bodyguard.
 
As I understand it, kettle corn is coated with an almost invisible cover of light sugar, while caramel corn is more heavily coated with "caramelized" sugar, and looks brown. I got a little confused myself because they were selling both kettle corn and caramel corn--both made in a kettle.
INTJ
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:38am
Stop making me hungry, Dannl.
 
I've thought about doing food writing, but the problem is I'm easily pleased and have low-brow taste. Put a solid block of milk chocolate in front of me, and I'm happy -- I think foodie readers would expect more than that!
Michael B. Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:46pm
There's another band called the MILFhunters, I bet them and the Cougar Hunters would be a good double bill, lol.
John Minehan Added Jul 3, 2017 - 5:59pm
. . . as a double bill at the Barnard College '85 Reunion . . ..   
John Minehan Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:14pm
I interviewed with a law firm at one point that shared a lobby with a radio station.  It was a News/Talk format (the radio station, that is, law forms always are).
Michael B. Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:27pm
Barnard College...LOL! Actually, Bryn Mawr would have been my first choice, as I once dated a woman who wound up teaching there, lol.
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:41pm
Yeah, the MILFhunters and CougarHunters would get along famously! I'll bet neither of them does a cover of "Only 16" or "Don't Stand so Close to Me".
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:42pm
John, the radio station I worked with was owned by a father/son lawyer team, but it was a wide variety rock/pop station. Being an air personality there was one of my favorite jobs ever, although it didn't pay worth crap and I was never all that good at it.
John Minehan Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:54pm
I went to high school with a guy who has done that, on and off, for about 49 years. 
 
He said, in addition to low pay and frequently losing his job to format changes, the hours were brutal.
 
But, hey, he got to play the Doors and the Stones!  
John Minehan Added Jul 3, 2017 - 6:58pm
Back in the early '70s as I was finishing Grammar School. they made everyone go out and buy PE uniforms announcing us as "School 2 Cougars."
 
That slang didn't exist then, but I wonder if any of my female classmates find that funny in retrospect, now that they actually are such . . . .  
Mark Hunter Added Jul 3, 2017 - 8:50pm
Oh, right: the hours were horrible, too. But I did love playing the music. After I left they changed to country music, which I don't hate but don't love either, and ultimately they got bought out by another country station.
 
My high school mascot was the Cougar--and still is. I wonder if it's become a big joke now?
Leroy Added Jul 3, 2017 - 11:16pm
"Oh, Leroy, you should have seen those cars."
 
One of the guys at work used to restore cars.  He would enter his cars at events such as the one you described.  He was too good.  He quit work to do it full time.  His cars used to appear in movies.  I lost track of him. 
Mark Hunter Added Jul 4, 2017 - 4:05pm
Another guy who followed his passion and found success! It's the kind of thing my brother used to do and love, but I have zero talent for it. If I was rich, I'd hire my brother and end up with a Jay Leno sized warehouse full of antique fire trucks.
Leroy Added Jul 5, 2017 - 10:10am
My father was into anything motorized, except motorcycles, from cars to heavy equipment.  It didn't rub off on me.  It appears to have skipped a generation.  My son is a car nut.  I might have the talent, but it doesn't interest me.  I used to work on cars and even heavy equipment on occassion.  My dad would tell me what to do and I would do it.  But, I still have no love for it.
 
If I were rich, my wife would take care of that.
Mark Hunter Added Jul 5, 2017 - 6:03pm
It didn't rub off on me either: my brother got all the mechanical ability in my generation. He can't write worth a darn, but nobody comes to me to fix their small engines with my keyboard.