I hope I’ll be selling books as I prepare for the Buttons and Bows Craft Show in my neighborhood clubhouse every year. In past years I’ve sold twenty or more books at one of these events. I have return customers in the 55+ Active Lifestyle Community. I try to have a new book each year for these dedicated fans.
This year I sold eleven books and I gave away two copies of White Roses in Winter. One to Kathy and one to Barb. These are my friends, neighbors, fans. Kathy is always the first in line at my table. I gave her a book as part of a newsletter drawing, but she also bought a different book, insisting she hadn’t read it. (Even though I’m pretty sure Kathy has every book I’ve written.)
Barb also received a free copy of White Roses in Winter as part of a newsletter drawing.
This wasn’t a stellar year for sales at this show as my card-making buddy Jeanne will attest to. Conventional bookselling marketers won’t agree with me, but sometimes it isn’t about selling books. Or anything else. It’s about the connections you make, the conversations you have, the new friends you meet.
Across from me was a group of knitters with two adorable children’s hats on display. Which started a conversation about potential grandchildren. Which led to the gift of a fertility bunny. “Just tell them to put it on the bedpost,” Joyce insisted. I thought she was messing with me, but she insisted she knew of at least thirty individuals the fertility bunny had worked for. Still, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would explain to my children how I came by a fertility bunny…
Jeanne’s husband Norman arrives along with his oxygen tank. Norman has mesothelioma and has been under hospice care. He tells me stories of growing up. How he and his buddies used to work on their cars on Saturday mornings and then head to the diner. His friends would get hamburgers and Norman would order pie. I offer him the pineapple cake from my free lunch. Jeanne frowns but relents.
I people watch. I journal. Chat with other sellers. I take a tour to see what crafts are being offered. Quilts, jewelry, placemats, shawls, woodwork. Christmas décor; golf cart seat covers; honey and goats’ milk soap.
I ask if I can take a picture of each reader who buys or wins one of my books. They smile. I hope I’m giving them a few hours of enjoyment as they read. If they post a review or write me a fan letter, I will be eternally grateful. But if none of that happens, I don’t consider eleven book sales in five hours a failure. Because sometimes it’s not about selling books.
Her eyes narrowed. “What’s next? A strip search?”
He tamped down the mental image that question conjured. The woman was no stranger to working out. And there were some serious curves under those clothes. But he wasn’t a cretin. “Nice of you to offer. But you can keep your clothes on. For now.”