This past weekend was an annual book event called Pulp & Press. It is done at Mill No. 5, an old mill that has been converted into a spot to shop locally. I have talked about the Mill before. Serpentine Books is there. I am frequently at the coffee shop to write or meet people. This annual event is something I have attended for the last 2 years, but this year I got to set up a table there with SIPA and sell some books.
Two other SIPA members, Laura and Bruce, joined me for the day. We spent about 6 hours sharing all these amazing local authors with people who came through. As a bonus, Laura got to talk about her writing process and the things that inspired her to right the Revealing Hannah series. She was so engaging and was one of the better speakers that afternoon.
The SIPA Table
The thrill of the day was not the amazing sales we had (the most we had ever had at any event), but getting to see other authors and learn from their good decisions and missteps. We brought so many different books with us. We had to put a lot of thought into how we set up the table. This needed to be something that made it easy for us to help people identify the best book. We have a mix of young adult, non-fiction, short stories, and so many different fiction genres that there has to be some rhyme and reason to the table. We ended up putting all the YA on the right, the short stories and non-fiction in the middle, and the fiction on the left. We used book stands to display a copy of almost every book. It worked really well for us.
Even the decision about which books got on a stand took some thought. Some books lent themselves to being displayed, while others didn’t. It made sense to keep the middle books low and flat so that we didn’t knock them over as people gave us payments. As books sold out (we had about 2-3 copies of most books) we were able to shift things around and let others get displayed more prominently.
There were copies of Mill Pages vol. 1 and we sold 2 copies!
Seeing all the tables and hearing all these authors read and speak really helped me see some examples of what I could and should do. For example, I realized, if I ever do a reading, it might be good to read something people will only get to experience at the reading. This could be related to the book or maybe published when I move on to the next book’s promotion. The idea is that people aren’t hearing me read something from the book and out of context.
The people who read, even those who were great readers, and didn’t talk to the audience were the ones who didn’t get the best reaction from the audience. The ones who talked to the audience got the best response. What I realized was that I have to do more than read something at an event. I have to talk to people and let them talk to me.
Being at this event really helped get me excited for being able to participate in future events as a published author.