Well I attended my first book fair last week in Port Dover. Yes, Port Dover. I thought I would start small to avoid the intimidation factor of all those hotshot published authors with their shiny copies of their book. No jealousy here. But let’s face it. I did want to talk to them. Ask that singular question, if I had the nerve. ‘So how did you get published?’
Well the event was small. Linda, a fellow member of WriterstoAuthors , accompanied me and even offered to drive, although being a recent immigrant to Canada (thirteen years ago) she had never heard of Port Dover – not even the Friday the 13th, 100,000 bikers Port Dover. Obviously a closet writer who never gets out. Anyway, since she drove, I magnanimously offered to pay the admission fee. At two dollars a head it came to, yes that would be four dollars. Inside the front door we were met by a red coat in full regalia, musket in hand. He was promoting his historical writings and fortunately refrained from firing off a volley.
In total I would say about twenty local authors attended offering a variety of books from history and personal development books, to personal memoirs, to novels. My reaction? It was kinda scary actually. There they sat, alone at a wooden lunch table, a dozen copies of their book in front of them – waiting. Some with friendly openness, others with a silent awkward fear. Those who had been through this before were obviously in the first group, the others, rookies, were almost afraid to make eye contact.
It was kinda scary because I soon asked myself, “Is this what I want to do? Am I that hungry to see my books in print that I am willing to do this.” Here was the question to be answered today. Surely the scene could be different. If Janet Reid (alias The Shark) decides she would like to rep me and gets me a three book deal with Bantam, then it would be cool to sign copies in Chapters. But this wasn’t Chapters.
I had the feeling that most were self published, used a vanity publisher or an e-book/POD publisher. I did ask a few and each related that it was the case. When you go that route, it looks like you are the one responsible for marketing and selling those books. Upon further questioning I found out how few queries some sent out before turning to vanity presses. For others, how narrow the audience would be for their work. How uncertain the industry can be for new writers braving the publishing waters. One author, who was awaiting his second book coming out, related how the royalties from his first book never materialized when the publishing company that published his first book disappeared with his money as well as that of some thirty other authors.
I have read that it is by far harder to get published than to write a book – even given that the book is well done and has potential. My experience in Port Dover had a pretty sobering effect on my vision of being a published author. I still have some stories I want to tell, and for Teacher’s Pet I am only on query number fifty-four. I am not giving up, but this little book fair helped me realize what I want to do – and what I don’t want to do. Question answered.