Gretchen Rix and Tam Francis at the Texas Book Festival 2017

I took fellow author and friend Tam Francis (left) with me to the Texas Book Festival this year, my usual companion Roxanne (sister) being at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio representing me and my books. Tam and I had a great time. As vendors. Selling our indie-published books.

We could have attended the author panels, as audience. God’s truth, though, on Saturday so many people went through our tent and stopped to talk with us that we had a hard time getting away for the port-a-potty. The port-a-potty that was positioned right behind our table (but a street-width away in a parking lot). We feared it would smell, especially by day two, but it did not.

No complaints at all about our tent. The first one on the tent path. The one with the great view of the Texas Capitol Building lawn. The one that was open to the elements. We were lucky. No real rain, only a few little sprinkles. No real cold, just enough for a sweater. No real heat. All the other vendor tents had covered sides. I think they sweltered a little bit in the afternoons. We had the breeze.

We also had the crowds. (So did they, but we got them first). Thousands of book-lovers paraded past us Saturday, and hundreds on Sunday. Some of them stopped. Less stopped to buy, but that’s how it goes at these things.

Our fellow authors want to know a few things about our experience. Like, was it worth it?

I did not make enough sales on my side to pay for the cost of the table. But Tam and I, as a team, just about did.

Having two writers at one table both hindered each of our sales and helped. Neither of us sold the number of books we would have sold if the other hadn’t been right there selling her books, too. But I sold some of Tam’s books, Tam sold some of my books, and she graciously allowed me the use of her credit card swipe thingie. And honestly, if we’d each had our own tables and only sold our own books BUT had been placed next to each other, we’d still have cannibalized each other’s sales.

Both the folk-tale/recipe author on my right and the Texas history author on Tam’s left outsold us by leaps and bounds. What’s that they always say: location, location, location. Ours, not theirs. They had a product that drew in the readers. We were sandwiched between them. By the time the crowd walked our way, their money had been spent.

But the crowd was friendly. We met some very interesting people (my vote goes to the snake-and-tornado-story man myself). We made a couple of new friends. And we learned more about hand-selling books. Tam is right. Giving out bookmarks helps.

But was it worth the $375.00 the table cost? Depends on your definition of success (and how much disposable income you’ve got). The competition was fierce. I mean, Tom Hanks, Lemony Snicket, Sherry Thomas, the Bush sisters, and tons and tons of literary authors (as opposed to genre writers like we are). The Texas Book Festival really is set up for them and not us.

So, not really. And yes.

By the way, Tam’s books are THE GIRL IN THE JITTERBUG DRESS, THE GIRL IN THE JITTERBUG DRESS HOPS THE ATLANTIC, GHOSTORIA, and THE FLAPPER AFFAIR.

 

Photo by Nita McBride.

 

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:  Beneath the Sky by Dan Thompson. The Exotic Mermaid by Leonora Raye.

 

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