We got out bright and early yesterday morning to head for Musquodoboit Harbour for the Book Fair. We had to take the long way around because of the weekend bridge closure but eventually we managed to find our way to the Old School at Musquodoboit Harbour.
Okay – am I wrong or evil in wanting to shorten Musquodoboit to Musk – just for the ease of typing?
Belinda and I parked the car and we took a walk around and visited the local public library (yeah, we are a wild pair of high-livers) and then we came to a cosy looking little bakery-coffee-shop – (otherwise known as a BCS).
Well, actually it was called the Dobbit Bakehouse.
There we had some of the best coffee I’d ever tasted. It was strong and rich and flavorful.
I had a hearty bacon and onion and cheese biscuit and Belinda had an almond cookie and a molasses cookie which she shared with me.
And yes – I shared with my biscuit with her as well.
The bakery was a little cramped for space so I gulped my coffee to allow them to turn our table over. We walked a little further and came to the Harbour Fish N’ Fries.
Here we had some of the best fish and chips that I had ever tasted. The batter was light and crisp and the fish tasted fresh and was not overfried and the service was quick. Sadly, there was coconut cream pie on the dessert menu that I never did manage to come back to even though I fully intended to do so.
Then we walked on back to the Musquodoboit Harbour Old School Community Gathering House.
The rest of the afternoon was a little less than successful.
We just did not have the sort of a crowd that we had hoped for. There were maybe six or eight actual visitors to the book fair and we spent the afternoon taking turns giving public readings to ourselves. The group of authors were a great bunch and I did manage to sell 4 copies of my Nimbus books – but that was a long way to go to sell four books.
Here’s a photo of the Fair itself. See if you can spot the over-fed writer… 🙂
Sometimes a gig just works out that way. There is really no telling what sort of a crowd you will draw when you go to something like this. Life is a big old experimental laboratory and sometimes you just have to jump in and give things a try.
Still, I have to wonder if this event could not have been publicized a little better. Neither of the restaurants knew about the event. It might have been a better idea to work out some sort of a partnership with the local library. Also, a big old sign close to the road with some balloons tied to the sign and blowing in the wind that read something like GIGANTIC BIG BOOK FAIR IN HERE, COME A’RUNNING! might have helped draw us a little traffic.
It might have been an idea to tie it in with the local schools as well. Maybe to hold a writing contest for local kids with a big book bag for the winner.
As you can see by the photo the Old School is a little out of sight of the road and folks driving by likely dismiss it as being just a big old house. The parking lot was a little hard to find and there was signing warning against unauthorized parking that might have scared some folks off.
Still, I had fun and I bought myself a book from a local author and I got to meet a few folks I hadn’t seen in a long time and Belinda and I had some fine conversation – and even though we got lost coming home we found ourselves pretty quickly and managed to get home in time for a little TV watching – some ribs and some fried potatoes.
I still wish I’d gone back for that pie though.
yours in storytelling,
PS: This is the very LAST day for my Kindle Scout Campaign. If any of you haven’t taken the time to click this picture and nominate my book I would be VERY grateful to you if you did today. It doesn’t cost a dime and if my book IS selected you’ll get a free kindle copy BEFORE the e-book goes on sale.
Please click this link and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program.
My wife Belinda and I had a great time signing and selling our books this Saturday morning at the Halifax Forum Farmer’s Market. We bought some fruit and vegetables and some awesome cake and a cro-nut (part croissant/part donut) and a sweet yummy gooey butter tart and we had breakfast at Johnny’s Snack Bar across the street from the Forum.
This is how a writer has to do it sometimes. He has to hunker down in the craft shows and book fairs and the farmer’s markets and smile and nod and talk to people – and hopefully sell a few books.
Let me give you folks a few nice moments.
Right off the bat Bill Mont – the fellow who runs the Halifax Forum Flea Market and the owner of Devil’s Island – one of the most haunted locations in Nova Scotia stopped by to test my knowledge of Nova Scotia in general and Devil’s Island in particular. I told him that I had actually flown out there once in a helicopter and that I had met and talked to the couple who lived on the island as caretakers.
He asked me if I had ever written about Devil’s Island – but unfortunately my book that has the most to say about the subject is currently out-of-print.
Nimbus WILL eventually get this one back in print – but all good things take time.
A little later a young fellow showed up and told me that he had read all of my ghost story collections and that his buddy Andrew was my very biggest fan. Sure enough, shortly afterward a friend of mine who was working her own table overheard this young man on his cell phone saying to his friend – “Hey, if you want to meet the famous ghost story author STEVE VERNON, you ought to get right down here to the Forum right away.”
(it’s true – he apparently said my name in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS)
Twenty minutes later ANDREW showed up and shook my hand and told me that he was my biggest fan and he bought a copy of HAMMURABI ROAD and I am pretty sure that he may have broken one or two of his teeth, he was grinning that hard.
Yup, moments like that make a writers day.
A little later an old gent by the name of Hugh McKerville stopped by to chat with me. He told me about a book that he had written entitled THE SINBUSTER OF SMOKY BURN.
“It is good to meet a fellow who is as active a writer as you are,” he told me.
We talked a bit about writing and storytelling and the day moved on slowly. It felt a little bit like sitting on the bank of a river just watching time roll by. I always enjoy these moments – even though I really love the time when my thoughts grow quiet and I just set back and indulge in a little people-watching.
I sold a few books – not a lot – but this whole event for me was a time to have a bit of fun and meet some interesting people and to work out a few of the bugs that might present themselves at next weekend’s big event – the Hal-Con Scifi and Fantasy Convention!
That is going to be a BIG event and I believe that I will sell a whole LOT of books.
Time will tell.
As I say, next weekend we will be selling and signing books at Hal-Con and then following Hal-Con our next big book event will be at the Literary Fair in Musquodoboit Harbour in the Old School Gathering Place on November 7 from 1-4pm and from 7-9pm. It is a book signing, selling and reading event with the Christmas market in mind. Belinda Ferguson and I will be there for the afternoon session.
In the meantime, here is a reprint of an earlier blog entry that will give writer-folks some real inspiration for your next book signing.
FLY FISHING IN THE RIVER OF POSSIBILITY – A DOZEN TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR NEXT BOOK-SIGNING A SUCCESS!
We’ve all seen those lonely writers sitting at those tables parked in front of bookstores. We’ve watched them slowly growing cobwebs behind stacks of sadly unsigned books.
Heck, I have even been one myself, over the years. Signings are never predictable.
Just last month I found myself outside of the Coles Bookstore in the Halifax Shopping Centre. This can be an awfully tough spot to sign in. People come to this mall with high-test boutique shopping in mind. I have seen them sprint past my book table – aimed towards dresses and jewelry and the cellular phone experience and, of course, the food court.
If I sign and sell a dozen books at this mall I figured I was doing great.
But I love that bookstore – partly because of the location – so handy to my home. Partly because the people who work there really love their job and they mostly know me by name and always go out of their way to make this writer feel right at home. Even on days that I’m just browsing the bookshelves they always smile and say “Mr. Vernon, how good to see you.”
So I go there and I do my best and this October I signed and sold twenty copies of my books. That is a fine fat day for a book signing author.
Which goes to show that you can never tell how a book signing will go. That is the number one tip for writers scheduled for a book signing. Anything is possible. Don’t go there figuring you know everything there is to know. You are a writer, after all – which means that you make stuff up. Which means that you need to believe in the power of possibility.
Anything can happen.
So abandon all preconceptions. The fact is we’re just fishing. And I can tell you a fishing story or two. Most of them all begin with “I went fishing and stood on the side of the river” and end with “the mosquitoes bit but the fish did not.”
Here are ten of the never-before-told secrets for signing success.
1. Make sure your bait is fresh. Remember – you are sitting in a building filled with books. Make sure that yours stands out. Set up a display. Bring a few photo stands to prop up copies. For the launch of my now-out –of-print weird western-horror I brought a small stuffed buffalo, tastefully zombified. For Lunenburg Werewolf I bring along a small stuffed wolf – all right, so he’s a husky, but don’t tell him that – you would only hurt his feelings.
Mind you, not everyone will have such an easily illustrated motif as reanimated bison, but anything that stands out stops people. A snazzy sign, a portrait of your main character, a funky colored lava lamp. You’re a writer, use your imagination.
2. Find the right fishing hole. Position your table close to an entrance. Heartily hail the folks who walk in. Wave to those who walk out. Keep smiling and have fun. Sooner or later people will come closer just to see what you’re so danged happy about.
3. Have a sharp hook. Get your patter ready. People are busy creatures. If they stop to listen to you they want it to be a succinct experience. On the off-chance if you happen to bore them to tears then at least they’ll be able to extract themselves quickly from what might otherwise be a sticky experience.
Hopefully, you won’t bore them.
“Hi there. I’m launching a new book today.” If they come closer to listen, reel them in. “This is my new book, YODELING WITH MALAMUTES, a heart breaking tale of a Swiss dog sled racer with deep-seated Iditarod dreams.” Talk to everyone who’ll listen. You are fly fishing in the river of possibility. Keep the fishing line dancing.
4. Keep casting and stay friendly. A lot of folks aren’t really interested in what you’re selling. Pity them quietly, but don’t browbeat them into conversion. It won’t happen. If folks bustle past, smile and say “Enjoy your browse.” Maybe they’ll stop on the way back.
5. Don’t forget to keep that fishing line dancing. Avoid long conversations. You’ll miss potential customers. Know when to shut up. If the person skims the first couple of pages, let your book do the talking for you. Odds are, you probably sound better in print, anyway.
6. Keep your feet in the water and stay hydrated. Have a drink, you’ll need it. Not a coffee, that’s bad for your breath. Have an herbal tea or a bottle of water – but make it a small one. Easy does it on the maximum-grandiose-large. The bookstore bathroom is a long walk away.
7. Bring a bright and shiny lure. Have a blurb clearly typed up for bookstores with PA systems. “Welcome to Check It Out Bookstores. Today we have novelist Steve Vernon signing copies of his new book PIZZA SCREAMS – A TALE OF DEEP ANCHOVY LOVE. He’s at the front entrance. Come and chat with a real bearded author.”
8. Don’t throw anything back. There is no telling who you will meet. In a two hour signing I met a school principal who hired me to teach a workshop on storytelling and writing; a radio host who lined me up for an interview, and the head editor of a local publisher who signed me on for my next book. Remember – the world is watching you, sitting there at your table full of hopeful books. Sometimes opportunity knocks, and sometimes you hold the door hard against the right set of knuckles.
9. Try and personalize your signature. I make it a point to chat with the person I am signing for and find out who they want it personalized to. Sometimes they are buying the book for someone else. Be prepared to just sign in generically – for the folks who are buying it as a gift idea but haven’t got an idea who to give it to.
10. CHECK YOUR SPELLING! This is very important. There are a lot of ways to spell a name. Ask them to spell the name – no matter how much you think you know how to spell the name “John” sooner or later you are going to run into a “Jon”.
11. Keep a tally on how many you sell. Sign a few before you go. I recommend signing them with a little space up top. That way, when you come back to this store for another signing you can always personalize it with “To John” in the blank space you’ve left up top.
12. Here’s my last bit of advice. No matter how hard the day goes, no matter how few copies you sign and sell – remember to have fun while you do it. You’re fishing, aren’t you?
I would like to dedicate this blog to my stepfather Irvin Chatelois and my grandad Hanlan Vernon – both of you took me fishing and neither of you laughed too hard when I caught nothing but a handful of stickleback perch.
I’m pretty good at book signing – but I SUCK at fishing.
Yours in storytelling,
If this blog entry was the least bit helpful and/or interesting – PLEASE CLICK this banner and nominate A BLURT IN TIME for the Kindle Scout program. If the book makes it into the Kindle Scout Publishing Program you will automatically receive a free Kindle copy of the book.
Last night I had a wonderful time signing books at the Halifax Shopping Centre Coles.
I always enjoy going out to signings and meeting folks who want to buy my books. It’s a really unique experience. You’ve got to remember – being a writer is a job with a serious lack of actual personal feedback. Unless you count the times the cat comes into your office, asking to be fed.
My cat, Kismet.
As I have mentioned, Mother’s Day weekend is ALWAYS a good time to sell books. And I always seem to have pretty good luck signing my books at the Halifax Shopping Centre.
The fact that I actually live across the street from the mall means that I frequently walk by the bookstore – and when I say “walk” by I actually mean “walk into” and when I say “walk into” I actually mean “walk in and BUY”.
Yes folks – my name is Steve Vernon and I AM a book addict.
Today I will be signing at the Chain Lake Chapters from 12 noon to 2pm. I hope to see some of you folks there.
I also got a chance to try out my new secret weapon – my business card.
I know, I know – you are reading this right now and you are wondering just WHEN this bearded dude actually thought he discovered business cards.
Hi – my name is Steve Vernon and I was born in the days when giant prehistoric beaver walked the earth.
Back in the beginning of April I took part in a local Book Fair with about thirty other authors and I talked to all of them – including Kobo guru Mark Leslie Lefebvre and ALL of them had business cards.
So I went home from that Book Fair and order a box of business cards from Vistaprint. I chose Vistaprint after taking a short intensive survey with each of the writers I talked to that went something like this…
Steve – “So where did you get your business card printed?”
Author 1 – “Vistaprint.”
Steve – “So where did YOU get your business card printed?”
Author 2 – “Vistaprint.”
Steve – “So WHERE did YOU get your business card printed?”
Author 3 – “Didn’t you just hear those first two authors? Are you stupid or do you just have a build-up of wax in your ears? I got my business card printed at Vistaprint.”
So I took a hint and went home and Googled up “Vistaprint” and came up with the business card you see below.
I am really excited about discovering business cards. I think they might actually catch on with other folks. Mark my words – before you can say “obvious”, nearly every self-employed writer in North America and the known world is going to start carrying business cards.
All kidding aside I am REALLY excited about this simple idea.
You see – I have been trying for a very long time to bring the two facets of my writing together. As a traditionally-published author I can see my books in bookstores right across the Maritimes and Canada.
And, as an indie author I can see my self-published books in Kobo and Kindle and e-book distributors across the world.
But the two realms rarely mix.
I’d like to change that.
I’d like to be able to simultaneously promote both my independently-published work as well as my Nimbus books – and I am hoping this business card is one step towards making that dream a reality.
Best thing is that if you scan that funky-looking square with your smartphone (it’s called a QR or QUICK RESPONSE) it will take you DIRECTLY to my Kobo page where you can see all of my Kobo releases – independent and traditional alike.
This isn’t rocket science. In fact I had been thinking about it for some time now but had never got around to doing it.
So that’s what I want you to get out of this blog entry. Stop trying to get around to doing things and TAKE ACTION NOW!
Lastly, let me get you up to speed on my Kindle Countdown Promotion for UNCLE BOB’S RED FLANNEL BIBLE CAMP – THE BOOK OF GENESIS.
Click this cover to order UNCLE BOB’S BOOK OF GENESIS at Amazon.com for only NINETY-NINE CENTS this weekend!
The book is now sitting at #70,572 ranking and the promotion ends this Monday. I’ve sold 35 copies over the last five days – which isn’t bad at all.
Well, it was a pretty quiet as book signings went. I usually have pretty good luck with Scotia Square book signings but not this time around. An unfortunate set-up left me in a sort of blind spot, so that a lot of potential customers walked on past me – in spite of my best attempts to entice them with clever luring comments such as “Hi there.” or “Good day.” or “Buy my book, damn it!”
(Okay, so I only used that last one once – and his hearing aid battery was most likely dead)
Still, I managed to sell a total of 8 books – 2 copies of Halifax Haunts, 5 copies of Sinking Deeper and 1 copy of Haunted Harbours.
Which made me happy in an oddball kind of way. The other two book signings resulted in more sales – but mostly Halifax Haunts. Now don’t get me wrong, I love to sell a book and Halifax Haunts nets me a fatter royalty, but I still really really really want to see Sinking Deeper make some sales. This is my first YA novel – and I do not intend it to be my last – so I have to make sure it out-performs my other books – or at least sells as well.