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OCT
23

Subtlety


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They do though.

This was part of my display at Friday night's ArtNight Pasadena, an event I've now attended for the second straight year. Part of me wonders why I went back. Not that it isn't a GREAT event, but it's just such a big event. And all the authors get stuffed into various nooks and crannies in the castle-like (charming yet simultaneously stinky) library. Even for the few people who manage to find you in the back corner of this dimly-lit building, most of them aren't really prepared to pay for something inside a library. Not that they couldn't. But that, on principle, they believe libraries should exclusively provide free stuff.

I do kind of get it. An event inside a bookstore will sell exponentially more books.

Not that it was a total loss. I met some great authors, sold a few books, and the best moment was when a woman saw the cover of Jeweled and loudly exclaimed, "I've read that!" She proceeded to ooze to the woman who was with her about what a fascinating and well-done book it is, and you'd think this other woman would have bought a copy. Indeed, before I got into this whole book thing, I was sure all I needed was a small core group of people who read and liked my books, and that The Snowball Effect would take care of the rest. That your book sales largely stop with this core group of people who read and like your books has been one of the most surprising lessons of bookselling.

"I may be back," the woman's friend said after looking at the front and back of Jeweled, an obligatory response to her companion's glowing endorsement.

She never came back, but then again, I knew she wouldn't.

No matter.

I'll continue to do these events because, in spite of everything, I enjoy them. And because you never know who'll come by, like you, read your stuff, and start the snowball that will eventually lead to your big break. Or at least lead to someone loudly exclaiming in front of a room full of book lovers that yours is particularly fine.

AUG
24

Bob's Beach Books

This store hosts a Northwest authors fair each summer, and for years I've been trying to get in. Nevermind that I no longer live in the Northwest. Nevermind that I spend much more getting to author fairs than I make in book sales from them. That's not really the point. The point is me, feeling like an author, introducing my books to people and seeing their faces when they smile that "I want to read this" smile.

It happens less than you think it does. People wanting to read your books. Even when you think your book is one of the best (or at least most normal) options at the whole fair. People will still pass you over for the stapled books of poetry or quilting murder mysteries or cult vampire thrillers. People will ALMOST ALWAYS pass you over for these things. For anything. For anything else you can possibly imagine. Very rarely is your book actually going to be what someone wants to read when given a whole slew of varying options. On one hand, it's comforting, isn't it? That it takes all kinds? And while I used to be discouraged when only a handful of people at an author fair would choose to buy one of my books, I've learned to appreciate it when it happens, knowing this is the kind of person who would probably be a literary kindred spirit of mine. I mean, anyone who listens to my spiel about a jewelry memoir that celebrates the role it plays in our lives, loves, and families and then agrees to buy a copy is certainly the definition of kindred spirit. (Sidenote: this was the first event EVER where I sold more Jeweled than Schooled.)

A word about Bob's Beach Books, because I can definitely see why so many authors want to return to this event. It's remarkably well-run, mostly due to the efforts of the store manager, and, now that I've visited, it's exactly the kind of small-town independent bookstore that I would frequent if I lived there. Here's hoping I get in again next year. Because coastal air up north is so refreshing. And because Oregon has no shortage of kindred spirits. Even if so many of them do prefer quilting murder mysteries and cult vampire thrillers.

JUL
11

Typesetting with Cats (Again)

It's hard to do, I'll have you know. What with my cat running all over the pages; the pages she assumes have been set out just for her. But no matter. It doesn't make me like this part of the process any less. So yes, round one of typesetting options is in the books. And seeing my words laid out for the first time on actual bookish pages is always equal parts exciting and confusing. Like, how did this happen? How are these my words? They look so official. And also, am I ready for this? Is the world? (Are my ex-boyfriends???)

In any case, bring on round two. And it's clear what my cat's vote is.

NOV
07

The Typewriter

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I'd always wanted a vintage typewriter. I probably mentioned with glee when I finally acquired one last spring while living in New York City...the land where they have everything, including not only a plethora of vintage typewriters, but also people who can repair them and restore them and teach you how to use them and order you a new ribbon for your circa 1960s model. (The Typewriter Doctor)

Of course, the Typewriter Doctor will also charge you a fortune, but it's worth it. Right? To be able to plunk out darling, nostalgic notes for people. Or even for yourself. To write letters. To craft the most charming grocery and weekend to-do lists you ever thought possible. (You try typing 'Pay Target Bill' on a vintage typewriter and see if it doesn't make you feel downright excited to pay it.) But excited as I was on that sunny day when I schlepped the not exactly lightweight machine from 23rd Street to the subway and then from the 77th and Lex stop all the way over to 1st Avenue, I haven't used it. I blame the fact that I was in the thick of gemology studies. Then I was preparing to move across the country. Then I was actually moving across the country. Then I was getting settled on the other side of the country, starting a new job and figuring out how to properly apply sunscreen.

I feel I owe my typewriter a commitment to use him more, I'm just not sure it's a commitment I can confidently make. Not that you should interpret any of this to mean that Tali has suddenly become all down on vintage typewriters, because I haven't. I think every author should have one. For what though, I'm really not sure.

OCT
17

ArtNight Pasadena

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For those waiting on the results of my candy experiment, having a big bowl of chocolate at my table did draw in a record number of visitors. Indeed many other authors at last weekend's Pasadena ArtNight commented to me on how popular my candy was. Not that it really sold me any more books. People just wanted some candy. Jerks.

It was a great event though, the ArtNight. And hats off to Pasadena for arranging such a complete and hassle-free experience. I found myself wishing I could ride the free shuttles around town to the different buildings housing various artists and musicians for the evening. What a great way for a city to see and experience a wide mix of genres and talents. And such a great reminder, for those of us at the library, of just how many people out there write books. Of course, it's also a reminder of how there really is something out there for everyone...and about a billion things not for everyone, which is why indie book selling is and always will be so challenging. There's a relatively (read: extremely) small number of people out there who are interested in reading your books. As opposed to all the other books they could be reading/buying. But I suppose that's what makes the world go round. And keeps the traffic at a book fair moving. As for that traffic, however, there might have been more of it had the library's $1 books room not been right next to the author area. Made our prices a tough sell...even with candy.

 

SEP
23

Choose my Table

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I'm getting ready for an author fair next week. I love author fairs. Book events of any kind, really. It's nice to be reminded you're an author, especially when just a lowly one like me. Because sometimes I forget. Sometimes I feel discouraged and wonder why I do it. But an author event can bring me back to myself...my writerly self.

The question at any author fair is, of course, how to get people to buy your books. Selling books is hard. People can't just look at a book like they can jewelry or artwork and know they will like it. And people aren't as free with their money as they used to be. An author fair attendee peruses everything and oftentimes buys only one book. One book. So how do you make sure yours is the book they buy? Just make sure yours is the most interesting book. Right? Possibly out of your control, but even if it weren't, before a person can even think your book is interesting, you've got to get them to approach your table. And there are *a lot* of tables at an author fair. Most of the time all lined up in a row or arranged in some other closely-spaced configuration.

I don't know what the magic formula is--something tells me it probably involves a low-cut top, a celebrity guest, and an expensive giveaway--but I may try out a few new things at next week's fair. (Much to my sister's disappointment, I will not, as she suggested, be hiring friends to hang around my table and act very interested, thus creating the illusion of mass intrigue and popularity. But that's really only because I can't afford it. And also because I don't have many friends yet...new in town, remember?) In any case, if you find yourself in Pasadena next weekend, I hope you'll choose my table. There will be candy. Which, come to think of it, is probably almost as good as a low-cut top.

JAN
19

Book Group

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Recently I had the opportunity to participate in a book group discussion. I don’t belong to any book groups, and never really have (other than this one time, but I only went once, when that month’s book was something I had already read, but the host’s house smelled like fish and it was hard to hear over the yappy dog being kept in a bedroom), but a book group over on the west coast invited me to participate in the discussion of their January book, which just so happened to be one that I wrote.

It’s a weird thing, listening in when a group of readers are discussing your book. It’s even weirder when they’ve got you up on the big screen TV while you’re talking. But technology is pretty cool when you think about it. And it got me thinking about how nice it would be if, after finishing a book I’d enjoyed, I could have a conversation with the author, ask her any questions, tell her I particularly liked this aspect or that.

And that’s what these ladies did. They asked questions about jewelry, questions about writing Jeweled and if it was harder or easier than writing Schooled. They asked if I visited my jeweler when I was home for Christmas, asked about conflict diamonds, giggled about my musings on old-lady veins, shared how powerful the opening scene was with the whale. They even answered a few questions for me which might help me shape the structure of my next book, which I’ve recently begun to rethink.

How grateful I am for readers, for books, for kind words, for camaraderie. I’m also grateful for the times that make me feel like a real author. I will not say that they happen a lot, but when they do, it's enough to keep me going.

AUG
06

The 5-star Book Review

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I confess I was really hoping the San Francisco Review would give me 5 stars for Jeweled. Of course, you never think it's going to happen. Just like you never think people--any people--are really going to like your book as much as you do. But hearing from the SF review this week, seeing those 5 little stars, reading the review prior to it being put into their publication, it's been a huge pick-me-up. Not that I needed one or am feeling down these days, it's just nice to be reminded that maybe you really did write a good book. And maybe peope other than your friends and family think so, too. Let me just leave you with this little gem:

..."Although Jeweled is the sincere and outspoken retelling of Nay's jeweled experiences, her stories invoke the humanness in all of us. Truly a fun and totally engaging read from cover to cover."

Now if that doesn't just warm an author's heart, I don't know what will. Besides, like, selling a ton of books. That would warm my heart, too.

 

JUL
03

You Are Invited

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I promised I'd remind you again, so here it is. You are officially invited, Cleveland. 

Author Alley (as part of the fabulous Larchmere Fest)

July 5, 12-4pm (this Saturday!!)

Loganberry Books (13015 Larchmere Blvd., Shaker Heights)

If you are a reader, you really ought to be there. You'll have the chance to learn about all kinds of books written by local authors, and after perusing all the options and meeting many delightful people, you can pick your favorites to buy and go home with a couple of new reads for that upcoming summer vacation. Those favorites might not be (read: will probably not be) my books, but they're someone's, and all the indie author goodness warms my heart.

So come on down. The weather's fine. 

See you on Larchmere.

FEB
23

How to read someone else's manuscript

b2ap3_thumbnail_detective.jpgThe answer is that I have no idea, but I had the chance this month to be a beta reader of someone else's manuscript. I'd never done this before, and it's kind of exciting. Hot off the press. Not even out yet. Being one of the first few pairs of eyes to ever read something. On the other hand, it's a little bit daunting, too. Because manuscripts (and this was a particularly long one) are like kids to their creators. So to end up with several pages of notes and suggestions for someone else's manuscript can make a beta reader feel like she's being kind of bitchy. Oh well. Feedback is a gift, right?

It's a wonder then that I don't ask for more of it with my own manuscripts. This author has a whole group of beta readers, whereas my books go to press with me and my editor as the only ones who have ever read them. For me it gets too complicated to get a bunch of hands in the pot, even if they are the hands of my most trusted friends and family members. I start feeling torn and indecisive if said friends and family members disagree on certain elements, so the best I can do to stay sane is to just move forward with the book the way I like it best. Of couse, when you write non-fiction, it's probably easier to get away with this. I don't have complicated plot twists and character development to worry about, as did the author of the manuscript I just beta-read.

At any rate, I was flattered to have been asked, and am always impressed by people with the discipline and talent to create entire books. They make the world--and my life--much more entertaining.

NOV
26

Cheryl Strayed in the Cleve

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In all the craziness of last week’s travels, I wasn’t able to mention that Cheryl Strayed was in town. Author of Wild, which I quite enjoyed. Sometimes it’s puzzling to think of an author speaking, because what exactly do they speak about? Their book? Everyone in attendance has read it. Their life? Everyone in attendance knows all about it because we’ve read the book.

Well Cheryl Strayed gave what I can only describe as the perfect remarks. She went into some background and additional detail on both her life and the book, and I could have listened for hours. Her thoughts on writing, particularly on writing memoirs, I found helpful and true, and it’s comforting to know she struggles with some of the same writerly things I do. Like balancing honesty with the part of you that doesn’t want to hurt people’s feelings. Loved hearing about the person who had issue with how they were portrayed in Wild. Loved hearing how she responded, how it made her feel. Loved being in a theater full of people there to support her. Truly, it is the dream.

OCT
06

Mayfield Library

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This is just to say that I so enjoyed participating in the Mayfield Library's author fair yesterday. I was so impressed by the turnout...most people who stopped by my booth mentioned they had a hard time finding parking. I'm also impressed by how many local authors there are in the area. I've done numerous events and met several of them, but never have I seen so many under one roof. It's nice to be among people who are all going through variations of the same process...and in most cases the same struggle of anonymity in a business where it's tough to be completely unknown.

I was also grateful for the friends and colleagues who braved the rainy afternoon (and the crowded parking lot) to stop by and see me, buy a book, or get their copy signed. It always means so much to feel supported.

And I have a soft spot for selling books to people I don't know when in these fair/event circumstances...it's always flattering when they pick my book to buy, because I know it has nothing to do with them knowing me already. It's like when the flight attendant or pilot announces over the intercom upon landing that they realize people have a choice of airlines, and that they're consequently grateful for our business. I feel that way about people who buy my book. Happy, and so, so appreciative.

APR
05

One Year Later

A friend sent me this link, and it got me thinking about what my advice would be. Of course, I'm a baby writer, but this weekend will mark 1 year since my book came out, and in that time I've learned quite a bit. In many ways I've been disenchanted by how hard it is to get people to buy books, how hard it is to market yourself and your book when you already have a full-time job, how hard it is to maintain a blog that almost no one reads (and how sheepish you sometimes feel for doing it).

But I don't regret any of it, and despite this past year turning out very differently than I ever would have guessed, it's also been surprisingly rewarding. The fans I do have are more doting and loyal than I deserve. They warm my heart and make everything worth it. The events and signings I've participated in have helped sink in the fact that I wrote a book. That people can buy. No matter how much of a nobody I am, I've accomplished something significant, and one year later, I'm still reveling in satisfaction and gratitude. And I still love writing. All set to finish up the writing of my next book on this anniversary weekend, I can't wait to do it all over again

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MAR
10

Headshots

Do people out there really have headshots? That's a silly question, I know they do. I see them on websites and blogs and twitter. It seems most people in the book world have---whether professionally done or not---some sort of picture that's pretty much just their head. I haven't had a lot of times yet where I've needed one, but the times I've been asked for one (book signings, guest posts, etc), I have nothing to give.

So I had some done this weekend. I won't say that I at times during the shoot didn't feel silly for doing it. I won't say that I know I'll even use these much. I won't say I'm convinced I really needed them, but I figure they'll come in handy at some point. And if nothing else, they will give me something to put in the About the Author section of my next book. The picture I used in Schooled was not exactly current....although, to be fair, I was trying to be clever.

If they turn out halfway decent, maybe I'll share some here when I get them back. Or maybe you'll just have to buy my next book. Once it's done. Or check out my website. Once I actually have one. Or read future guest posts. Once I find time to write any. I'm sensing a pattern here.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks What does society say you should change? Fascinating exhibit at @WMofC. https://t.co/NAlhWw9hHu
TaliNayBooks @vcolotta Happy Bookiversary to you!!
TaliNayBooks A Prairie Home Companion in #SanDiego was pure delight. And I'm not just talking about the Carmen Sandiego rendition. @christhile
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