This year at the Twin Cities Book Festival I shared table space with my friend Catherine Lundoff and her newest endeavor, Queen of Swords Press. Sharing space with Catherine was fun and I think Queen of Swords did pretty well both selling books and getting information into the hands of potential readers.
I had a slow sales day. In fact, I didn’t make back my half of the table fee. I think there are various reason for this, but I still need to pinpoint the major reasons and try to mitigate them should I ever go back.
One reason I think is that people were confused about whether I was an author or publisher or bookseller. That I am an author who sells his own books and runs a small micro-press to keep my works that have gone out-of-print with my various publishers back in print and available was too much to take in for some people.
At Twin Cities Book Festival, there were moments of customers acting with—distaste might be too strong a word—at my perceived self-publishing. I had more than one book packager leave me their information. These people would act surprised when I told them that while yes, I did do a little self-publishing to keep my older works in print, I also work with various small presses and major publishers.
I think some people also started to get analysis paralysis. I had 11 books for sale and that seemed to make people freeze up, unable to decide what they might want to buy. Add to that, my work is kind of all over the place (Urban Fantasy, Weird West, Steampunk, Poetry, Short Story Collections, Anthologies) which also seems to confuse people about what I am about as a writer. My covers range from fantastic (I received many compliments on the “Not Enough Midnights” cover and of course my Carina Press covers are both striking) to meh, and I think this inconsistency in quality also hurts me. One of my covers seemed to make people think it was a YA book when it was not. It seemed like I couldn’t establish an identity with them, couldn’t make myself fit in a neat marketing hole they understood.
That said, I would try TCBF again. You never know. Next time I might sell a ton of book. Next time I might take fewer books and try to narrow my focus a little.