It was the New Forest Book Fair on Saturday and I tripped along for an experience, and I got me one of them. There were no murders to speak of, crimes were only represented in fashion and the only thing Belgian was a general sense of boredom.
It was a shame because I was well up for a spot of selling but the fair just wasn’t geared to new, unrecognised fiction. I was the only author who had a stall and I was out-flanked on all sides by second-hand book traders. It was all about rarities and collector’s editions.
It was an eye opener into a world which had remained largely hidden from me until the weekend. A world of elderly gentlemen with fascinations for ships, trucks, engines and fish. They would shuffle along the aisles, nodding occasionally to a fellow bibliophile who they once haggled with. They have long coats, flat shoes and delight in the rare copy of a book which came out in 1983, selling only one hundred copies.
Don’t get me wrong, they seemed to enjoy themselves in their own non-expressive way but I’m in a slightly different world. One trader came to me at the end and speculated that the initial cold weather had probably caused most of the punters to stay at home. I don’t know about that. It wasn’t snowing or freezing cold biblical weather, it was about seven degrees.
Anyway, I spent the entire seven hours sitting next to my books, reading mainly and occasionally saying hello to the odd person who at least cared enough to have a look at them. I sold a few copies, so not a total loss, but more than that, it gave me a great insight into a marketplace.
You have to do these things in order to find out what works for you. Fiction is hard to sell when you’re unknown and we all must remember that. Non-fiction can be sold to a person who is into that subject but not fiction. It’s just a story and why’s your story better than that one in the bestseller’s chart which has sold a gazillion million?
This is what you’re selling and you hope someone will take a chance. Once you’re known it becomes easier, recommendations, word-of-mouth, but it all takes time. I’m not sorry that I went to the book fair but I’m disappointed in the result. You live and learn though. Some things will work and some won’t, and the important step is to take the learning and move on unaffected, which I most certainly am. This isn’t a depressive post, written by a man in a gutter who’s been crying so hard that his eyes are on fire. It’s just the truth.
Until next time…