Book Table

Next month I embark on a coveted rite of passage for a writer—the book table. Yes, I get to do my own. It will be at a Local Author Saturday at a used bookstore in town. There will be a few other writers doing tables, so it won’t be as awkward, and hopefully will draw more traffic.

I’ve been thinking about how to go about this. I’ve got a little over a month, so I have some time to prepare. But it may take all that.

Local author tables, when I’ve seen them, are not particularly lively affairs. They usually consist of the writer sitting awkwardly behind a table with way too many copies of their book.

No one really talks to them, so they usually bring a friend to assist. There’s not enough for either of them to do, so the books stay very neat and orderly. The writer has a tall order. They must be assertive, but not desperate; personable, but professional; approachable, but not bored. That’s a lot to ask of a writer.

Writers aren’t like rock stars, or even visual artists. We aren’t usually big personalities, filling the room with an explosion of color, sound, and a rampant individuality that draws crowds and keeps them there. People expect them to be all of those things, especially after reading them. Surely a person that writes like that, and thinks like that, must be extraordinary.

But no, the writer at a book table is usually an unassuming sort, an average person you might expect to see about town browsing the grocery aisle, or picking up the dry cleaning. You sort of wonder if such a person could possibly have anything to say worth reading. Then you feel guilty and try to make up for it by talking to them. They are always nice enough. I will ask for advice, and they usually say they don’t know a lot. They’re not being modest.

Self-publishing really is a subjective experience. Make money. Don’t make money. Publish in print. Publish online. Blog a novel, and then publish it later. Or don’t publish it later. Hire a freelance editor. Don’t hire one. Hire a graphic designer. Do your own cover….And even with all of the options, you don’t have to necessarily choose. You can have them all at the same time, in varying shades.

Really, as far as self-publishing goes, it’s whatever you want to do. It’s really all up to you. I had one author just shrug and send me on a Google search. There’s no right way to do anything. So, on the subject of advice, there’s not a lot to say other than, “So are you going to buy my book or what?”

Now I’ve become one of them. Next month I will have my own book table. Today I have been thinking about merchandising, things to fill my table. I’ve been thinking about having pens printed with my blog address, and maybe a few other little things. I guess I would need print materials, perhaps a sign. All of this is going to be a huge undertaking.


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