Publetariat Editor’s Note: This blog post, from Fay Risner, originally appeared on her Publetariat blog on 9/17/09. It’s such a salient topic for indie authors, I asked Fay if we could reprint it as an article for the site and she graciously agreed.
Friday the 18th Civil War Days begins in Belle Plaine, Iowa. I’m going to sell my books in the park on the fringes of North versus South battles. So am I ready?
I’ve watched the weather forecasts. Looks like perfect days for having a table full of books outside. To help the customers visually see what kind of books I write, I made place cards that states the genre to place by each pile of books. It would be a good thing if the wind wasn’t too strong, or I will spend time chasing those place cards down. Also, the bookmarkers I printed that list my inventory and address for future reference.
I’ve been doing a mental list in my head this morning. It has taken a lot of preparation for this three day event. I’ve got an aluminum folding table left over from my craft sale days. (Those craft sales are where I learned some salesmanship.) An Indian blanket for a table cover, doesn’t go along with the Civil War but in that century. Dressing in a pioneer dress and wearing a bonnet should give me some attention. (How did I come by a pioneer dress and bonnet? I revamped a dress and sewed the bonnet years ago when I volunteered at Ursher Ferry in Cedar Rapids. I was spinning in a one room log cabin as the woman who lived there. When visitors came in, I had to tell them about my life. It was fun to act the part.) I still have my money box from craft show days (a small fishing tackle box). It’s perfect with a top divided shelf for change and the bottom for bills. I bought a mesh folding chair with a canopy top so I wouldn’t have to sit in direct sunlight. Haven’t had it out of the bag to see if I can set it up. Every time I buy something in a bag or box that needs put together, I’ve found it a struggle to put the object back in the bag. So guess I’ll wing putting the chair together in the park after I have the table set up.
After some fall house cleaning, I found a four by four poster board upstairs to use for a sign to lean against the table. This advertisement shows that I am a local person. That might help get me some interest if not sales. So I printed large banners and tacked them to the poster board. The sign reads Keystone Author Fay Risner – Book Sale – Featuring – Ella Mayfield’s Pawpaw Militia . On each side of the Book Sale line was a blank space so I put a picture of my book cover on one side and a Confederate Flag on the other. That definitely states which side of the war I’m on. Figured I might as well join. You can’t hear it in my writing, but I have a southern accent. That would be a dead giveaway if I tried to join the Union forces. They might shoot me for a spy.
I have no idea where I am to set up. The man I talked to said I could be by a building where reenactors sell their wares. Guess someone will point me in the right direction.
Friday is the day the schools bring students to learn about the Civil War. I wanted to be a part of that education. Besides, a presentation will go along with my book. So I made up another poster board. While the reenactors will be talking military feats, I will be discussing Bushwhackers and Jayhawkers. A time line of the border war between Kansas territory and Missouri is on the poster. A large Missouri map dominates the board with stars for important places and Vernon County drawn in so the children can see where my history comes from.
I won’t have anyone to watch my table and I don’t know how far it will be to the concession stand. I baked an apple cake. That will be meals and snacks plus I’m taking a large container of ice tea.
My husband isn’t so sure all this stuff will fit in my small car. Best be prepared. Today I pack the car just to see how is the best way to fit everything in. It will be good to have that much done. I’ll have to get an early start to be set up before 9 a.m.
No matter what, this will be a fun experience going back in time amid the smell and explosions of gunpowder, war cries and crowd appreciation of the battles. Lincoln will give his Gettysburg Address, a church service will be held under the open sky and much more. I can’t wait to get there.
Fay did so many things right, from being very well-practiced and prepared, to hitting her target demographic square in the middle, to highlighting her local community connections, and more. Read Fay’s next blog post to see how well she did with her book sale event. Fay’s books are available on Amazon.