I spent Saturday, December 14, at the Franklin Park Mall in Toledo, Ohio where the Writer’s Block Author Fair was held. Thanks go to author Michael Timmons for organizing this event and accepting me as a late registrant. Timmons was one of the participating authors at the 2019 Summer Book Fair in Springfield, Ohio. We shared our disappointment in that event.
I have no complaints about the event. It had everything I look for in a good book fair:
- Good location
- Good pedestrian traffic (in a mood to spend money).
Like many malls, the Franklin Park Mall is no longer as vibrant as it used to be, but it’s by no means gasping its last breaths like the mall in my hometown. Indeed, the venue was bright and clean and kept that way by uniformed workers throughout the day, although there were mysterious and disgusting stains on the floor in the women’s restroom. The mall’s acoustics made hearing somewhat difficult for me, especially later in the day; however, that’s my problem and no one else’s.
Situated in the food court, author tables were not numbered. A quick conferral with Timmons pointed everyone to his or her correct table. As per usual, I made the circuit around the tables. “Checking out the competition?” one author quipped? “Not competition,” I responded, “colleagues.” Indeed, I did not consider any of the authors present to be my competitors, if only because their audiences differ from mine.
The event boasted about two dozen authors, not the thirty expected. No matter. There were no empty vendor tables and we had a solid mix of genres, from children’s literature to mystery to poetry to fantasy and more.
Because I attended unaccompanied by a booth slave … er … helper, I did not bring the display rack. It was too cumbersome to deal with. No matter, I had small display stands for some titles and I lay other titles flat on the table. Mall policy forbids backdrops or banner stands more than six feet tall, so I did not bring that type of signage. I purchased a short, battery powered string of LED lights for the table and a couple of large golden bows to anchor the it. Table signs advertised my half-price sale (no one of those books sold), new releases, and Hen House Publishing’s editing and ghostwriting services. I spoke to a couple of people interested in having their manuscripts edited: “The advice and sarcasm are free, but the editing is not.”
This event, by far, was probably the most humbling for me. Another I met through the Springfield author events, Kristalen Barringer, was there, accompanied by an elderly woman who asked if she might pray for me. The request startled me, because that was, of all things, unexpected. I replied that I could use all the prayers I got. The poor attempt at wit fell flat, but she ignored the awkwardness and bowed her head and prayed aloud for my success as an author. I, too, bowed my head and murmured an amen when she finished. The simple, powerful faith this lady demonstrated truly stunned humbled me, and I was grateful for her kindness.
I hope I remembered my manners sufficiently to thank her.
In all, I sold six books, almost enough to cover what I spent on gasoline for the round trip. Sales would have covered the cost of fuel if my car didn’t require premium grade gasoline. As it is, I’ve yet to actually cover all expenses from any such event. None of these is profitable for me from a purely financial standpoint. However, I’ll keep doing them because it’s a pleasure to meet new readers.
My next scheduled event is the Lexington Book Bash in Lexington, Kentucky in March 2020. I hope you’ll come.