Book Fairs–My First Time as an Author

My character study on Abraham is finished. I really learned a lot from it. The approach I took was trying to understand what his stories meant to the author and who they were originally written for. There were a lot of surprises, even for a lifelong student of the Bible like me. I gathered a lot of material that I think will make fodder for publication in magazines or maybe a book.

But now the question is, as far as my blog is concerned, what’s next? This week, it wasn’t hard, because I had my first book signing on December 7. (But I’m already worried about next week). The Anderson County Public Library held an event called the Story Lines Author and Small Press Fair. I’m pretty sure it’s an annual event, too, so I plan to come back next year.

David Anderson at the Story Lines Author and Small Press Fair
At the Story Lines Author and Small Press Fair at Anderson County Public Library

If you haven’t had a book signing yet (or wonder what it’s like for authors), here is how it came together.

Behind the Scenes

From one of my writing groups, I got an email notice about a book fair at a local public library highlighting local authors, book crafters, and publishers. I wanted to get in on it, so I went to the website and filled out the application. The organizer noticed my book was only listed for Kindle and asked if I had any print books to show. I said I would by the date of the fair.

I talked some about the trials involved with that in my last newsletter. To recap:

  • I uploaded the cover to KDP and the formatted manuscript for my print-on-demand (POD) paperback. I tried to link it to the Kindle version already on Amazon’s website.
  • The paperback and Kindle versions were supposed to link together on the sales page, but they weren’t. They linked my paperback to another author named David Anderson.
  • Once that was straight, I ordered three proof copies to be sure they were ready for sale. After days past the delivery date, they still had not arrived.

Later in November, I checked the tracking. The last place it was known was somewhere in Ohio. I’m in South Carolina. Maybe that was the other David Anderson. The date for the book fair was coming up. I didn’t have time to check, so I ordered twenty author copies (without the benefit of seeing proofs first) and prayed for the best. They arrived November 27, and they looked great (thank God!). I had the paperbacks I needed to have a table at the fair.

A couple of people stop at my book table
A couple of people stopped by. I’m not really as worried as I look.

One author and friend who has self-published for years saw my matte book cover and asked how I did it. I told him I published through KDP. They give you a choice of glossy or matte. He wants matte covers because they don’t show fingerprints. But he’s been using Lulu, and that’s not an option with them. I think matte is the default option with KDP. I didn’t really know what I wanted, so I went with it. He confirmed to me I made the right choice.

A view of the front and back cover
I was pleased with how the front and back cover looked. I may have convinced my friend to switch to KDP.

It was fun. I got to meet potential readers, other like minded authors, and a couple of local publishers. My wife helped me with the table décor. It looked a lot better with her touch.

part of our display, two candles on a bamboo roll out mat and some mints
The mints, the candles, the sheer black table cloth made the table more welcoming.

I got to talk about the book with several people. The paperback is available on Amazon for $6.99. I told people it’s $7, or only $5 if they sign up for my email list. Some looked at me skeptically like, “I’m on to you.” But they signed up anyway.

I went around to meet some of the other folks. Several authors from the Foothills Writers Guild were there. I took a few photos of my favorite displays. Maybe they will give me and my wife some ideas for the future.

That doll is Shirley Temple, who stars in Kathryn’s mystery novels.
…and coffee lover.
…and fellow Foothills Writers Guild member

Next Event

There’s another book signing coming up at McDowell’s Emporium, one of our local independent bookstores, on December 21. Events like this are great for getting out there. I could not have done a book signing by myself. People only come out for one author if they already know and love. Steven King or Danielle Steele could do book signings by themselves and draw hundreds of people. Until we reach that level, I think we’re better off joining in fairs and events with multiple authors.

Authors, book crafters, and publishers at the fair
Not sure we got everyone but the library photographers probably did.

What are your opinions about book fairs and book signings? Leave a comment below.

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