My first major success as an author!
Before this past weekend, the historic Corn Hill neighborhood hadn't been able to host its annual arts festival since before the pandemic. The last time I attended, it was as a journalist covering the event in 2019. But this year I was there as an author, and wow, what a blast!
My booth included a purple tablecloth and potions, of course!
I'll be honest, I was a bit apprehensive at first. To begin with, the booth was a little costly, and there isn't much return on books. From the beginning, it was never about the money. But as a journalist and self-published author, it's not like I have a very big budget to work with. Then there's the table decorations, books themselves, etc. But I told myself if I could sell 25 books to pay for the booth, I'd be happy.
Well, I'm pleased to report that not only did I sell more than 25 books, I sold every copy I had! More than 40 books, with some orders that I promised to sign and deliver at a later date. More importantly, I met some great folks, got to interact with some very young and enthusiastic readers, and did a bit of networking. The temperature didn't break 72° all weekend, and all-in-all, I had a terrific time.
I had no clue how many books I'd sell, but obviously I didn't bring enough. I'm still trying to learn the business side of things, but it's definitely a good issue to have. I am very fortunate, and hope everyone that took a chance on me this weekend thoroughly enjoys my first book!
What is being an author supposed to feel like?
When I first started my career as a journalist, it felt surreal. Like... is this what being a journalist feels like? It was exciting, but also felt alien and strange. It took some time for reality to sink in. And finally having a published work, a lifelong dream realized, feels pretty much the same way. But at that festival, alongside so many other talented artists and artisans, the reality started to sink in. You should have been there to see the smile on my face! Perhaps some of you were.
At the same time, it was a whole other side of the craft. Writing the damn thing was the easiest part. But registering as a D.B.A., drawing up invoices for local bookstores, crafting the right ads for social media... it's been a lot of learning as I go. As for selling myself at the festival? Luckily I was a salesman at Kay Jeweler's through college, and I actually felt like I was finally standing on some familiar ground haha. But I wasn't selling jewelry. I was selling something that was mine. Something I was truly proud of. And that felt really, really good.
My first customer!!
But the best part was, of course, the people
From my talented neighbors, to the kind vendor across the street that let me make change with him like a bank, I had nothing but pleasant exchanges all weekend. I had lots of grandparents come by, wondering if my book was right for their grandchildren, and even the people who just came to my booth to look always passed along their congratulations and praise. My illustrator also got lots of love, so of course I'll plug him here again like I've done many times in the past.
One of the most humorous interactions was an elderly woman who came up and asked what my book was about. So I gave her my elevator pitch, and she goes, "Did you say witches?" I replied with a "yes ma'am," and she then shook her head and immediately walked away. Haha! Look, there's no Satan worshipping in Wis' Apothecary, I promise! They're good witches.
But my most wholesome exchanges always involved children. There was this one girl who came up with her parents, and as soon as I got done explaining what my book was about, her face lit up and she looked excitedly at her mom. Her mom asked her if my book was what she wanted, and the girl eagerly nodded her head. She then handed me a $20 bill, and her mom explained her grandmother gave her the cash to spend at the festival. For her to so readily use it on my book... I can't put into words how special that was for me.
Then there was one family, pictured below, who is taking a road trip this week. Their young daughter was very excited about my book, and her dad said it'll give her something to read while driving. The daughter then happily offered to read the book to everyone, and the parents were very supportive of the idea. Her six or seven-year-old brother also said he wanted to read it! So they promised he could read a section or two.
Not to sound like an old man, but in the world of apps and Netflix, how often is reading encouraged these days? As an author, this obviously made me very happy. When I was her age, I was a voracious reader. I can only hope my book fosters a similar love of reading for someone.
I wonder what the son was looking at? Haha!
Art and the Artist
Just like everyone at the Corn Hill Arts Festival, I was putting myself out there. From paintings, to sculptures, to photography, creating something for others is a pretty intimate deal. When you share something you've created, you're sharing a part of yourself, and that can be really scary. What if they don't like it? What if it's not good enough? These are worries any artist has.
But with all the excitement I saw this weekend, I'm really glad I put myself out there. For maybe the first time, I truly felt like an actual author. An artist.
I don't think my book is right for everyone, but I do think its right for someone. And of the 40+ copies I sold this weekend, if it can mean something to that someone, that's all I can really ask for. Of course I want my audience to grow, but I want it to grow the right way. And little by little, I think I'm getting there.
So everyone who has given me a chance so far, thank you!! It truly means the world to me. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a review. Hopefully next year I'll see some familiar faces, eager for volume 2. Which means I better get to work.
Until next time!