I’m sure you’ve been on tenterhooks to hear about my experiences manning the “Books, Beautiful Books” stall at the Mill Road Winter Fair here in Cambridge a couple of days ago. Well, here is what we looked like in the morning:
And here’s how we were in the afternoon:
We started off in the marquee – location chosen in case of rain – and then the frost on the marquee melted in the sun, and dripped through onto us! So we were wetter indoors than out, and eventually we decamped. That’s me on the left: it was a very cold day so I am well-insulated by many layers under my cape, and have ended up resembling a tweed Dalek.
Sales were not great, to be honest – it’s a hard way to earn a living, I can tell you that. I was offering my paperbacks for special fair price of £7 and sold nine (eight “Fatal Forgery” and only one “Canary”). They cost me about £4.25 per copy to order from the publisher in the US, so that’s a “profit” of £2.75 per copy, and a day’s takings of £24.75.
Lessons learnt? One of the other authors was giving out little flyers with a code for a free download of a chapter for her Kindle version – I could have done that. I think six such disparate authors was perhaps a bit of a tricky proposition for some – maybe we could have grouped or organised our offerings better. (We covered so many genres: young adult, historical fiction, detective, poetry, fantasy, and romantic suspense.) And I think we needed to make it clearer that we were local, and had actually written the books we were selling – many people thought we were simply a book stall. So a big banner saying “Meet the local authors and buy their books!” might have done it. But I also learnt what fun it is to talk to other self-published authors about their experiences and recommendations and warnings. Writing can be a very solitary activity, and the Winter Fair experience was a highly recommended antidote!