Here you can follow the blow-by-blow account of my attempt to transform myself into a (regularly) published author.

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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Should I...?

author Donald Levin

I stand or sit there for a few hours, an author friend on each side of me (pictured above, mystery writer Don Levin, whose books you should try).

They sell a few. I have sold nothing. The truth is, no one is selling very much.

I'm tormented by questions. Should I be trying harder to lose weight so I'd look better? Should I not care about losing weight so I'd be mainstream plump like so many others? Should I have gone to an event closer to home? Should I be writing my technothriller faster? Should I have focused on the children's picture book this year instead of North Country Quest? Should my table be arranged differently?

The event is beautifully organized, but somehow an audience has failed to materialize. We are "networking;" we are enjoying a really nice box lunch; we are buying a few books from each other. But we are not selling books to new readers.

Diana Plopa, the organizer, has segments where authors who requested a time slot can read from their books. The pieces will be put together into a program for Cable Network TV (Detroit market). So that is good!

author Joan H. Young reading from The Bigg Boss

I discussed marketing strategies with Don on one side and Bob on the other. We are all struggling to figure out what works.

Does it matter if I sit or stand--one might look disengaged while the other might look too aggressive? Should I have dressed nicer? Should I have dressed more casually? Should I have spent more hours writing so I'd have a new book in the Anastasia Raven series.

Well, events sometimes work and sometimes they don't. With two hours to go and still no book sold, it became a game. Can I make it to the end without selling a single book? But almost at closing I did sell one. So I lost the game, but I'll take it.

One has to accept that there are going to be days that are financial losses, but I can't continue to suffer them so regularly. Here's hoping the next one will be a big seller!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Pentwater Arts and Crafts Fair

This, right here, is the future of what I do.

small girl reading a book

Yesterday and today I was at the Pentwater (MI) Arts and Crafts Fair. The weather was marginal yesterday and downright icky today. Nevertheless, I did OK on sales. More on that later.

On Saturday, three of us shared the booth. We've done this before, and we work well together. Jean owns the sandwich board sign and it is great- it lets people know what we are about.

authors selling books

There was live music by Awesome Distraction of Manistee. They were quite good. Not so loud they blow out your brains, but our booth was very close to the stage, so it made it really difficult to talk to people. This is one of my pet peeves, and yet, when the music was playing people were definitely more upbeat and engaged. Don't know quite how to solve that conundrum. I'm sure it wasn't too loud for those a little farther away.

two guys with guitars

At one point they warned us that the Coast Guard helicopter was going to be flying low overhead as part of a demonstration so people wouldn't be alarmed.

Coast Guard helicopter

Today, it was just Jean and me, well.. and Bitzi, who helped bring people to our table.

woman with purple hair holding a dog

I met two new (to me) authors, so that was great.

Now for the nitty-gritty. I'm not throwing in the towel yet, but I need to do better than I did this weekend. Alternatively, I can do more than two shows a month, which will result in less writing time, and/or less volunteer time. It will definitely make me crabbier.

I can keep this up at this level for a while, but eventually there has to be an upturn in sales, or I will need to add another source of income.

I can live frugally, but I do need to have a car and a place to live and food, and a few minimum other things. I get tired of having to forego a lot of activities because I can't afford the gas or whatever. I know, I do go to a number of things, but I have to pick and choose carefully, often camp or sleep in my car, take my own food, etc, etc. I'm not whining, I'm just being honest. After a lifetime of having pretty much nothing, I'm used to it, but I'm not going to let the finances get to the point where I can't afford to do anything at all other than eat and drive.

We shall see. No major decisions until after this year. I'm trying to move from small potatoes to medium potatoes. Maybe that's just a slow transition.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Celebrate Scottville Event

I haven't done much posting of author events on this blog, which is where I really should be doing it instead of on My Quality Day. Maybe I'll try to do better.

Anyway, today was a fun little opportunity. Never discount fun little chances to sell books. This was a very local event celebrating some new businesses in Scottville, the town where I live. Space was free, lots of businesses held drawings for prizes, bounce house and activities for kids. All the things that make small towns fun.

The Cats and Jammers band played live music, which was really good- old time and folk music with a really upbeat sound, but not so loud that you couldn't hear yourself think or talk to people who might want to buy books.

I sort of stumbled into the opportunity. There is a new local author, Sandi Malburg. She's written a book of local history, "Lost Towns of Mason County." She was offered a chance to sell her brand new book, and then it sort of expanded to include other local authors, and I jumped on it.

I sold several books, had another internet TV interview, may have a chance for a local radio interview, and may have gotten my Dubois Files series in the elementary school library. Local people who know you are always going to be great supporters... assuming you put out quality books.

And now... it's been a busy day. I'm going to take Sandi's book and go get comfortable.

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Honored and Amazed, MOWA awards

One should always enter as many categories as possible for awards, particularly if it doesn't cost anything to enter. This year, for the Michigan Outdoor Writer's Association, I placed entries in three categories. Now, I have to be honest, since I won one award last year, I was thinking I might get one again this year, but I never expected what did happen.

The biggest surprise was the one pictured above, which is for photography. Let me explain that the photos submitted had to have appeared in a publication for which you were paid. That limits my selection a lot. In fact, it eliminated all of my really good photos. But, I did enter two pictures. This one took 3rd place. It's Cedar Falls at Hocking Hills, Ohio.

So, while I was still in shock from that one, I also received 3rd place in the category I thought most likely to receive something. This is the same as last year, a story about a non-consumptive activity (eg, not hunting or fishing). My entry was the story of my Midland to Mackinac hike last fall.

And then, I couldn't believe I heard my name again, for 3rd place in best overall column. I feel as if this is quite a big deal, because a lot of the writers do regular columns, and I'm pretty sure there was some stiff competition.

So, I'm a bit flabbergasted. And, I made a few more friends this year, so little by little I'm feeling as if I might fit in.

They explained that they have people from out of state judge these, some people with national media connections, so they are making every effort to be sure the judges don't know who wrote the entries. We have to redact anything that would clue someone in as to who wrote the articles.

2018 MOWA award