Racing The Blue Monarch - Lap by Lap Notes

Authorfest or Retailing Your Heart

April 13, 2015

Tags: authorfest, Jessie Haas, Michael J. Daley, retail, sales, public, humiliation, girls, boys, books, authors, racing, raffle, thriller, subscription, story, Racing the Blue Monarch, Shanghaied to the Moon, At Home With the Sun, advertising, Beach Socks, enthusiasm, pizza box solar oven

We must face it squarely – there's a sort of terrible humiliation involved in trying to make direct sales to the public. As you sit there in your booth at authorfest, behind your colorful, dynamic, wonderful display of your works, you are confronted with the stark fact that most people – and I mean like almost ALL people – are not interested in your stuff.

Your stuff, in this case, is the fruit of your creative work. The evidence that after countless hours of struggle trying to render a private vision into comprehensible form so that others might experience what you intended. Your gift(s) of love intended to delight, entertain, make laughter, evoke emotions, educate and illuminate sit there on the table with their attractive covers crying out for attention and all those people filling the room...well, they don't even come close enough to read the titles! How COULD they? You are thinking, but of course you smile and nod at them and try to make eye contact and if you're feeling especially outgoing and brave you actually step out from behind your table and accost them with a quick pitch...in my case, are you interested in car racing? Thrillers? How about signing up for a free raffle? This neat radiometer is the prize...oh, and also a subscription to my new story, Racing the Blue Monarch.

And your thinking, God, I am not cut out for this! My heart goes out to everyone – craftspeople, farmers at market, mall workers, the old ladies in bazaars, anyone everywhere trying to hawk their wares. Making the attempt helps me better understand the frenzy and flash of modern advertising. It's really a form of hysterical clamoring for attention, more sophisticated but no less needy than a baby wailing for it's mommy.

I'm doing that. Beside me, Jessie is doing that. All around the gymnasium, 58 other authors are doing that. And of course, the people walk by and it seems as if the whole four hours will go this way...barren, humiliating. Thankfully, it does not. For Jessie, there is Saige, the American Girl doll of the year for 2013, standing there with her and catching the eye of lots of the girls. They come towing their mom to the table.

For me, there is the marvelous, perfect sci-fi cover of Shanghied to the Moon there at the top of a big stack of itself. At least twice, once with a boy and once with a girl, I saw that cover connect, their eyes flash with delight and attraction. Pure gratification and justification! Then there was the young woman, bless her, that stood right there and read the entire first chapter of Racing the Blue Monarch, oblivious to all that went on around her. Every writer wants their words to have that effect on the reader. Next came the family that recognized At Home With the Sun and that I was the guy who had visited the school yesterday to do pizza box solar oven building workshops. The Mom tells me her 6th grade son, not present at this moment, came home full of enthusiasm about that project. “He does not enthuse about much,” she confides. Well, make my day!

And one more story of triumph to totally wash away the earlier feelings of hopelessness - the lady who snatched up my one and only toddler book, Beach Socks, and sighed. She had just bought a beach book for her grandchild. “Mine is better,” I offer lightly, jokingly – though I mean it. She cracks the cover. Looks. “Your right, it is, I'll buy this one, too.” Ahhh...


  1. April 16, 2015 7:53 PM EDT
    Ha, fun post! I was at Cape AuthorFest, too. I wish I could have gone around and met everyone--what a huge turnout!
    - Marcia Strykowski

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