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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
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.

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.

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.

JAN
28

Writing vs. Selling

While in the hallway this morning at work, a woman who knows about my book (is she my anonymous pen pal??) asked me how sales were. And the answer, in a word, is slow. Which I can hardly expect them not to be. She reminded me that all it takes is one reader, one endorsement, one opportunity in order for sales to take off. This of course is true, and nothing I haven't thought of before, but bringing us back down to reality, I have to work and market as if it's all up to me. Because it is.

The annoying thing about it being all up to me is that I don't know much about book marketing, nor do I have much of any free time in which to do it. And like most writers, when I finally do have free time, I'd rather be writing. Of course, as someone recently asked me when I sounded discouraged, "Is selling tons of copies the reason why you write?" Which, of course, it isn't. I write because I love it, and because I can't not write. That said, I would certainly rather be selling tons of copies than not selling them.

Not sure what my point here is, other than that selling books is just much harder than I thought it would be, and that I am much less adept at it than I should be. And even though I know I probably should have spent my free morning yesterday trolling for twitter followers, I spent it doing some writing for my next book. And I know most of you won't agree with me, but I believe my time was better spent in doing so. (Said the author who had no readers.)