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the everyman memoirs

The official blog of author Tali Nay.
JAN
22

A Return to Author Events

I've done many an author event in my day, various festivals or community nights where markets or bookstores feature a group of authors for an afternoon, an evening, a couple hours here or there. These events see the authors setting up tables with flyers, bookmarks, and, of course, books to sell. I immediately loved them when I started 10 years ago, because they made me feel so official. Like a real author. Over time they got harder, mostly because I started to learn how difficult it is to sell books. Picture readers perusing a parking lot full of author tables, where they mull over everything from poetry to mystery to romance to self-help to literary novel to historical non-fiction to delightful everyman memoir. With such selection (and with every reader coming into such events with his or her own specific genre preferences), I can tell you that the odds of these readers selecting YOUR book to purchase are low. So I got used to ending these events having sold almost no books. (In some cases, selling actually no books.) In short, it started to feel discouraging.

And so I took a break, which turned into a longer break, which turned into totally being out of the habit, which turned into a global pandemic where events didn't happen anyway, which all turned into a new attitude when it came to participating in the Sunset Market's Author Night this past week in Oceanside. After so long without doing an event like this (and especially after so long without even having the option), it felt fun again. It made me happy to be out seeing people, talking to them about my books, and to be meeting other local authors and writing professionals. And to my delight, I sold some books too! More than I thought I would.

These events are of course full of you, the author, giving your spiel over and over again to those that stop at your table. I usually start by asking if the person likes to read, giving them an out if they don't. I then ask what kinds of books they like to read, again giving them an out if they say something like "exclusively sci-fi" or "straight-up erotica." But if they like the delightful everyman memoir, or if they say they are open to whatever catches their eye, I explain that I tell stories about life, and I walk them through each of the themes of my five books. I can 100% tell you that there is nothing as satisfying (or shocking) to an author as hearing a stranger who has stopped at your booth, listened to your spiel, and stood there reading the back covers of your books say, "I'd like to buy this one." I always think there must be some mistake. You want to buy my book?? Because, again, this scenario is so rare. For them to have picked your book. For them to reach into their wallet and put money down for this thing that is not like art or jewelry, this thing they can't simply look at and know they will love, this thing that is, when you get right down to it, a gamble. As an author, I will always be grateful for those readers who choose to bet on me. And I'm looking forward to more author events in the near future. I'll hope to see you there!

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.