My career as an author kicked off January 2016 when my first book, Step One, Step Two Step Three and Four was born.
I found myself hungry. To do anything to get my name out there. For children to hold one of my books. I applied for everything. I booked myself for my first gig at the Louisiana Book Festival. I thought a hundred dollars for a table was cheap. I’ll make it back, easy. I traveled alone for two and a half hours. I was in a great mood and could feel my box of books being emptied in a few hours.
When I got there the school seemed a bit small but no biggie. The area was active with people. I was set up across from a woman who could sell a stinky sock. She was good. Too good. Reeling them in like a fish. She had crowns and dolls and gift bags. The gal to the left of me was from the area. She had a handful of books. I sat there with my one soft cover. So in four hours I sold three. I was devastated. The gal to the left saw the look on my face. She said, “Don’t let this get you down.” How could I not? I drove 2.5 hours one way. Not to mention my time.
Did I learn my lesson? No. I wanted more. I split a booth with some writers for the TLA conference. I didn’t think it was bad since it was a double split. I could make it up. I sold enough to pay for my booth. It didn’t cover parking, lunch, tolls and gas. I made connections but didn’t get school visits out of it. I did find my publisher through it though!
I signed with a publisher for My Big Tree. Now I had two books to sell. I went to events where I was lucky I was covering my gas. Some instances I made 2.00 and hour. My 19 yo daughter was making more than me waiting tables. Did I learn my lesson? Nope not yet.
I had a gig that offered free booth space. Did I say free? That was my ticket. I’ll score big. Thirty minutes into my three hour drive I thought, what am I doing. Next exit I was turning back. Then I realized I was speaking at this event. No, not paid. They got me for free. I arrived. The scenery was beautiful in the hill country. I set up my two books. Texas Authors set up their display across from me. It looked like they opened up a book store. I thought this wouldn’t be so bad. It would draw customers in. People listened to my plug on my books. I sold 15. It would’ve been a good day if I was in my territory not three hours away from home. I cursed myself on the drive home. What was I thinking?
I’m working weekends now which I said I’d never do. My family says i’m never home. Something had to change. I felt I was doing this all wrong. Then I started thinking. My time is valuable. It’s worth something. I decided I had to be VERY selective on my choices where and when I promoted my books.
I recently gave up a gig I enjoyed but it killed two hours of my day, without pay and some days without a sale. It didn’t make good business sense. The business had me for free and I had to work to sell a book which wasn’t happening often. Also, a friend of a friend asked me to entertain children with my books. I could’ve done the gig with the chance I’d sell a book. A Saturday night, away from my family and the possibility of selling my books. I had follow through with change. I gave my fees for my time. She was surprised I’d be asking for a fee. I wanted to write back, “Would you invite a magician to a party and not pay them for their time?”