For all of us who write books, it is always a delight to meet our audience whether they are adults, teens or children. To be able to see what books or stories appeal to them, which covers they reach for or what questions they may have about our process, makes us better at our craft.
I had such an opportunity this past weekend at a Mini Maker Faire in San Luis Obispo’s Mission Plaza. Organized by the local Art Museum, this faire was based on other such events around the country. The Plaza was lined with booths and tables where various tinkers, innovators, and others demonstrated. This was billed as a family event, the day was sunny and the turnout was brisk.
While it was not a sales event per se, I believe any event where my name is out in the public as an author and illustrator of children’s stories is worth my time and effort. I demonstrated and taught children and adults how to make accordion book forms. I had my books available for viewing and of course, my usual pile of stuffed animals along with my banner, brochures, business cards, an email sign up list and a list of where my books can be purchased in the immediate area, etc.
Here are some highlights: I met one woman who was going to Bulgaria for the summer to work at a camp for gipsy children. She was interested in the folded book form to teach the children. One woman wanted to write and publish children stories, and we talked about the process. Teachers came by to see what I was doing and possibly use my folded form in their classes. A fellow from the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum wanted to know if I would demonstrate at his event in July. Of course, the biggest highlight was the many children and their parents. One child wanted to take my stuffed frog home; I said he could play with it instead. Another little girl, I had met at an event in the library some months ago came by with her parents. I remembered her because she was a very focused five-year-old, intent on writing her own story. Her parents remembered me as well.
Many of the parents and children looked at my books and asked where they could be purchased. Many said they had seen my books in local stores. It would have been nice to sell my books on the spot, but hopefully the day will result in later sales. I did give them my list of local places that have my stories. And, of course, I am delighted to hear positive feedback.
I talked about my two upcoming books from Oak Tree Press, “Butterfly Girls” and “When Caterpillars Dream” and acquired an email list of possible future sales. One woman was especially interested in “Butterfly Girls” because her granddaughter has a birthday coming up and loves butterflies. Another fellow who helps purchase books for the Natural History Museum in Morro Bay and the Butterfly Sanctuary was interested in these as well. But I had already been in touch with the Museum and Sanctuary about these books and will follow up when they are published
I have a similar opportunity in two weeks; this time at the Paso Robles Arts Festival. Again, no direct sales possible but an opportunity to meet my public and interact with my potential readers, children and the people who buy their books, their parents, grandparents and teachers. Besides I delight in talking with these children and their parents about stories and above all encouraging them to read, read, read. I guess we never stop being an educator in one guise or another.