Yesterday I attended a book signing at a local independent bookstore called the Foxtale Book Shoppe, in Woodstock Georgia. It not a Barnes and Noble, there is no café inside and does not contain shelves and shelves of books reminiscent of a library that makes one think that library rules apply. Foxtale is a store and lively. The folks there are happy to talk with you, they gave me a tour and they told me about the really cool stuff they do to engage the community. Their big events are books signings like the one I attended yesterday. They had four very big names in the Urban Fantasy, YA and Steampunk genres, or subgenres, if you prefer. Two of the authors, Kevin Hearne and Cherie Priest I follow. I buy their work and I would have stopped out for either one of them. Having the both there was others I didn't know was a gift. The other two authors, Dililah Dawson and Molly Harper, I was not familiar with their work, but there were many there that were. Enough so, it made me think I should be paying attention.
The event started with a Q&A and I listened to them tell their stories. No one asked questions about specific books or characters, but everyone was very interested in their struggles to find themselves as writers and to get a little insight into who they were. I found that every cool. Cherie Priest told an incredibly amusing story about her manuscript being found while the office of a former editor taking a sabbatical from life was being cleaned out. Her editor found it, read it and couldn't get in touch with her because Cherie's contact information had changed and it was by the luck of still active e-mail address that changed her life.
Each author had very different stories about discovery and how much time, practice and patients it took to get discovered and how terrible their first submissions were. As Kevin told us, he taught English and this writing thing should be a pretty easy. He discovered what a foolish thought that was. His first three novel were complete junk, but an epic fantasy of his showed promise, but was still considered unpublishable. It wasn't until Hounded was written he had something worthy of publication. The rest is a story about beloved characters, COSplayers, beer, sausages and an Irish wolfhound by the name of Oberon with a completely hilarious twitter page.
Molly and Dililah were equally as delightful, but they're mostly in the YA market and I'm not really their demographic, but their perspective and struggle as authors hit closer to home and seemed to mirror what I went through trying to sell Dex Territory.
Here were four famous authors in the genre and each telling us, me. that each journey is unique. There are no hard-fast rules, persistence is required, a thick skin is essential and mostly, keep writing.
Their talk of the editing process made me feel less like a dumb-ass. Don't get me wrong, I am, but it's pretty normal. None of them hold literary degrees, which I took as great news as I only have a bullshit Liberal Arts degree cobbled together with various colleges as I went along. I feel like I have the lack of credentials necessary to succeed. Woo-hoo!
The observing part came into play with how they set up. They had swag with them, whether it was bookmarks, gift bags that were handed out from answering questions, lollipops with websites and book covers printed on the labels, etc. It was an excellent reminder of the business aspect of being a writer. I'm thinking about my campaign and sales strategies. While the work as a writer is winding down the business of being a writer needs to start. I'm a limited on what I can actually do, without cover art and materials, but it's a great time, while I'm waiting, to start lining up marketing materials. Enough of this and onto work. Be checking back in soon!