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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
MAR
05

Warwick's Book Signing

Last weekend may have been my best book signing ever. And it wasn't just because of the turnout...which was amazingly good. It's also because it's the one that felt the most party like, the most celebratory, the one with the most smiles, the most hugs. I just felt so damn supported. Surrounded by people who were genuinely happy for my achievement...and also anxious to read the new book.

I was remarking to someone afterward about the relative letdown of an event like this being over. Because that's all I get. Those two hours of being the focus of a party held in the city where I live is all an author like me gets. An encouraging boost in both confidence and royalties, the first month after a book is released is pretty much the best. "It's all downhill from here," I remarked to someone a couple of days ago. Which when it comes to book sales, barring some fortuitous intervention of luck, it is. Besides, there can only be one launch party. And once it's over, you won't be able to rally a crowd in the same way until your next book comes out.

And so that probably explains why I savored every moment at Warwick's last weekend. Because the day was mine. Completely. And surrounded by a helpful staff, customers as loyal to Warwick's as any bookstore I've ever seen, family, and friends, it's more than enough to keep me going.

One thing to note about this signing in particular was that it got a lot of the "strangers" involved. Meaning customers who just happened to be at the bookstore that day and were not there specifically to see me. Because the party was such a force (champagne! a candy bar! tons of people! a photographer!), people wanted in. Or, at the very least, they wanted to see what the hell was going on. And in many cases, these customers participated in the festivities. They bought books and had me sign them. They told me stories about gems they loved, or about hearts that had been broken. There's a picture in the smattering you'll see below that shows me wearing a pained expression, hands over my heart. It's because one of these customers, a complete stranger to me, had just told me about her daughter's recent heartbreak. And who can't relate to that? Which is why I love this book so much. "Can you give her some words of advice?" the mother asked as she handed me a newly-purchased copy to sign. "Here's to love," I wrote. And just underneath, I added, "Because, eventually. Right?"

One can only hope.

OCT
23

Subtlety

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.

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.

FEB
26

Artists and the Chelsea Market

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I know I mentioned in my last post about the Brooklyn Art Library that I wish I was an artist who actually had artistic ability...one who created things with her hands. I'm going to say it again, simply because the degree to which I desire this cannot be overstated: I WISH I COULD MAKE THINGS. LIKE, THINGS THAT PEOPLE WANTED TO BUY. I further wish I could then sell these things at a booth somewhere and connect people with things that make them smile. Books, God love them, just don't have that immediate effect on people.

Let's take this past Sunday morning, which I spent in delightful fashion at the Chelsea Market. Eateries aside (some of them are to die for, and I'm not just talking about the dreamy men that Dickson's Farmstand Meats hires to work their counters), the highlight for me this time was the corner flea market. People selling the jewelry they've made, handbags, shirts, magnets, paintings, photographs, and, my favorite catch of the day, the above stationery that I could not pass up. Even when I had resolutely declared I wouldn't be buying anything (I'd already bought several edible treats as well as convinced one of Dickson's counter guys to give me a free sample of the rosemary potatoes), but this is what happens to people when they come across something they could conceivably need (I write letters. I send out cards.) and happen to find it in an irresistibly adorable form. R. Nichols, the man who makes these cards, starts by cutting shapes out of colored paper and arranging them in various scenes and designs to get the prints that then get manufactured into cards. This NYC pack spoke to me for obvious reasons, so did the pack showing the head and tail of a cat peeping out of a dresser drawer. I bought those too.

I also took the business cards of two artists who I think I may buy pieces from to help decorate my new apartment (countdown to moving day is on...posts to surely follow), and all this when I had not planned on doing any such thing. But when talent meets delight, it's hard to say no. Especially when the actual designer/artist is sitting there at a booth. I'm no artist, but I know what it's like to have most people pass you by. I know what it's like when someone really connects with your work and tells you so. I know what it's like to have repeat customers. It may not happen often in my line of work, but I think it's forever endeared me to the artist at his booth.

AUG
14

The Jewelry Effect

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It doesn't have a great effect on book sales, I can tell you that. In fact, full disclosure, it's a bit discouraging how much more difficult it is to sell Jeweled than Schooled. Especially when very close to all people who I've heard from who have read both say they actually like Jeweled better. (Even the San Francisco Review liked it better. See this post:The 5-star Book Review ) But out in the world, to the general public, convincing them to read a book that looks every bit like it will be entirely about jewelry is not easy. Even trying to describe Jeweled has me fumbling over my words. You just can't sum it up as concisely (or as universally relatably) as a book about school. Let's try it, shall we?

It's my life in jewelry.

It's life from the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at the jewelry industry through the eyes of a jewelry lover.

It's a look at life, love, and family through a series of stories and reflections about jewelry and the impact it has on all of us.

It's a series of stories about jewelry and the effect it has on life, love, and family.

The life, love, and family is sort of what gets lost here when I find myself explaining to people what Jeweled is about. Remember, that's what one of my early readers called me up about as soon as he'd finished reading...that the back of the book did nothing to capture the true sentiment of the book, which is actually about life and love.

Still, I like Jeweled better. If for no other reason than it is much more unique to me and my life and passion. I mean, how often do you meet a girl who throws jewelry-themed parties where the guests are forced to play matching games involving diamond cuts? (And how often does said girl become secretly appalled when all of the guests positively *suck* at this game? I mean, what self-respecting adult woman doesn't know that April's birthstone is the diamond? Or that the skinny, football-shaped cut is called a marquise?) Next time, they should read up beforehand. I know just the book.

 

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.

latest tweets

TaliNayBooks Well, I guess now I don't have to be the only #SoCal girl rooting for the #indians in the #WorldSeries. #SilverLining #dodgerterritory
TaliNayBooks Because what's better than 3 days of art, food, ideas and music? Besides maybe stretchy pants. #LifeIsBeautifulFest https://t.co/6aviUYGA4Y
TaliNayBooks I'm sure they'll reach out for the "Authors You've Never Heard Of" edition. #authors #style #joandidion https://t.co/gQE9hPO7r3