This past Saturday I joined about 20 other authors at an author event hosted by the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. There were 3 floors with authors on it. There were hundreds of books offered. A parade happened earlier in the morning, and a decent crowd was expected. As I walked in to find my spot, I was directed to the space left of the entry desk. What? Yes, I was right
in the entry. As an author in a group of authors and sellers I was in prime time location. I had a table to myself, people would see me, my books are great, and I am personable and funny (if I don't say so myself...which I just did.) I should add that in a rough guesstimation about 70% of people who open my book buy it. To put it simply, I thought I should kill it here at this place.
Here I am with my own LETME shirt (get yours here) and my table. Heck, I even have my great little table top sign with my very cool cowboy hat picture. Nothing can stop me from making some waves today.
Even now, as I write this blog, I am thinking of the positives that I had going on there including my positive attitude. Are you getting the vibe I am putting down on this blog? I really had it all going for me. At least on paper that is what I pictured, envisioned and forecast for myself. Well...
As the day went on I talked to people, visited author tables, decided what book I would buy my wife and sang songs to pass the time. The crowd overall was small with influxes of people from time to time. Some people walked out with a book or two, while others left with several, and others left with none. I gave out a card or two, had a 30-min conversation with a female Christian farmer about life and religion and points of views on life. I love conversations where I learn about people especially when it does not interfere with me (or any other author) selling books. I even had someone ask to be in my selfie as she checked out my book. Now, full disclosure this actual
picture was staged as you can see from the faces we are all making. (Note: See behind me is the front door. I am literally in the best spot possible.) Did she buy the book? Nope. She loved what she read, loved what we were doing, and enjoyed the laugh yet walked away without any of my fabulous books. Easy come, easy go. Right? I'm not sure it is at this point. I have a head full of questions going on in the deep, dark places of my brain-pan. I hate when the warden of my brain prison lets the inmates get out, but here we are letting them run the question game. While I am smiling and having a good time, the inmates (in my head) are asking, what is wrong with you? Why aren't you selling all those books you started off swearing you would sell? Is it your shirt? Do people not like your LETME push? Maybe you should have shaved? Is that unkempt look out of style? Well, you know there are a lot of authors here and the weather is crappy, so maybe they simply don't like you.
Hold up! How does that one work, I ask myself. It's crazy what the inmates can do to your psyche when they are free to speculate (or hate). Luckily, the warden returned and I got back to business. Finally, a guy who walked by me a few times with his wife and 2 sons stopped by me and simply asked, "How much are your books?" I say what each costs. "What is your first one?" I say "Just a Thought." To which he says, "I'll take it!" The one person who didn't look at my book, didn't open it, didn't read the back or anything, buys my book. I sign the book, I add my website and tell him to reach out and let me know what he thinks. He says he will and leaves. Another couple comes up and starts talking to me. Out of the blue, the guy returns and says, "I already love this book. I just read this passage here (points to passage) and, man, you said it right there."
All the inmates are quiet. Why? Because this moment made my day. This guy just did the thing I always fall back on. The point of this blog. The reason for the tweet about selling 1 book and being happy about it. He reminded me of me. Huh? He reminded me of me. Let me break it down.
See this picture? To you, this picture may mean nothing. It's just me holding one of my books. I have 3 of them. They all have my face on them. Some of you know what this picture represents. Now all of you can know. This picture is the very moment I held my first ever published book. Only 2 people knew I had written a book. Those two people were my wife Keziah and my biz partner and editor of the book, April. When April and I put this book together she asked me a question that I want share with any writer who happens to be reading this blog: What is your wish for this book?
My answer then is my answer now. I want someone who doesn't know me to buy my book and have him or her relate to it, or, if I'm lucky, love it. Just one. One person be affected by my words. And there it is: the reason the little inmates in my head finally sat down and enjoyed the ride. See, this is something that I hope all of the published and unpublished writers remember: why you started in the first place... To tell a story, to share a vision, to inspire a person, to bring a world to life. We all want to be best-selling superstars, and one day that may very well happen, but today, any day, be grateful for that 1 sale. That 1 fan. That 1 moment that someone said, "OMG, I love your stuff" be it a book, article, poetics, blogs, vlogs, or anything else because, when you first hoped to do it, you would have gladly taken that 1 bit of praise.
Now, some of you may think, well, it's easy to be grateful for a sale when you don't get a lot. So for those who don't know me when I say that, I do pretty good at signings. One of the best moments in my authoring life was a few months ago at an event in Oregon where this lady was so moved
by the passage she read that she bought not 1, not 2, not 5, not 7, not 9 or 10 but 11 of my books for all her siblings, nieces and nephews. I gave her 1 more of each of my books. You ever make someone cry and request a hug from simply sampling your work? I have and I'm saying that I am as grateful for my one sale as I was by this magical moment with this wonderful woman. So let me recap my point:
ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERY PERSON WHO TAKES TIME TO ENJOY YOUR WORK!
A great little location reminded me of the hopes I had before I started this journey. I hope I never forget that to sell 1 million books, I have to start with 1. I hope this little blog helped you remember why you wanted to share your work in the first place. Be amazing. LETME!