Growing up, I would follow my mom or my grandmom to the local vegetable markets in India. And in India, they are street markets where the vendors would sit on the ground or have a small table (with wheels) where they would sell vegetables or fruits. If they had watermelon or some other juice fruit – they would cut and keep it open for the buyers to see how good their fruit was. And given that it is a tropical climate, you would also find flies also trying to sample their wares which they would fend off with a fan while selling to demanding customers like my mom.
So, when I found myself selling my books at a table with a fan in my hand partly because it was so hot and partly because we had flies too – all I could think of was the market vendors in India. With that note, let me tell you about my first experience selling books as an Indie author. To begin with, the setup – when I wrote my books, it was because I could not stop myself from writing, and second, it is what I believe in. So, the idea that I had to get a banner, business cards was not appealing. I hobbled together some basic stands (I had my phone holder as a stand for my book). And I found some cardboard that I could use to prop my books. I used my old work business cards in case somebody did want my card. So with this basic setup, we started the day.
I had just finished set up when my colleague showed up, and he was there to purchase two books. I was so touched that somebody actually came to buy my books. And with that sale, I sat down in my chair, satisfied that I was done – sold two books. What else could one ask for, right? To my surprise, a few more people bought my book willingly. And after watching a few more people around the fair and noticing how people bought my book – I realized that the books draw the readers they are meant for. It has very little to do with how much I attract or talk about the book. Being an avid book reader, I know that when I browse books, I don’t like to be told – I like to look at the book, browse through it, read the blurb in the back, feel it in my hands and make a call. Some people saw the title and knew they wanted it. Some people talked to me and then wanted to buy the book. For some, they went past it – for some, it was the cool factor and for some, they were happy looking at the title.
I spoke to a few of the authors there, and almost everybody was in the same stage. And when you speak to them, there is a sense of belonging because we are all book lovers. Like I saw someone from work, and even though we hadn’t worked together, the fact that we both loved books suddenly made her more prominent in my awareness. I saw folks carrying a stack of books in their arms, and I was like – ‘Aww, I want that too! Nothing like a stack of books that you can read.’
Many wore cool t-shirts like ‘I have no shelf control’ and ‘Born to read – forced to work.’ And before I knew it was 6 pm and time to wrap up. It is so cool to experience this and be a part of it. I am very grateful to the Columbus Metropolitan Library for organizing something like this. In this day and age of so much information being fed to us – it would be good to reach out to a good book and enrich yourself instead of being stuffed.
Cheers to all the fellow book lovers out there – we are a tribe!