Friday, August 20, 2010

Huzzah! or A Writer's Life at Ren

Dusty and sweaty is not my best look. It's hard to be engaging, polite, positive and outgoing when you have sweat trickling down your back and dust up your nose. That's my life right now at the Ren Faire, where I sell my books. Or try to. It's a tough crowd. They don't seem much interested in books. Now, toss them a sword or a leather gauntlet or one of those cinced up medieval bodices and they get a wicked gleam in their eyes.

Still, I keep trying. I set up my tent, reset it and reset it yet again, attempting to make it appealing to the masses strolling by. And my booth must be attractive. It's been used repeatedly for a backdrop for photographers capturing other actors and costumed guests. I even offer celtic jewelry, most of it handmade. I get customers for the jewelry, but only a glance at the books. And ALL of my books are fantasy genre. Cool covers with swords and dragons and whips and vials of poison. Still, they get only a glance, before the eye is off wandering to that booth with the fairy wings and fox tails.

I have been doing this for a number of years now, and only just realized why the books perhaps aren't selling like, well, chain mail headpieces. The books aren't instant gratification - you can't fork over the money, plunk it on your head, arm, leg, body and dissolve into a fantasy. No, you have to actually take the time to sit down, open the book and read it. That's when you dissolve into the fantasy. And that's the problem. My creation of fantasy takes place in one's mind, not on one's physical body.

It isn't all for naught, however. I have gained a few regular customers, returning to get the next book, or books, in the series. Customers who stop by to chat about the books and characters. Customers who actually come to the Faire looking for me. And one who was star-struck by my writing partner when she realized that she'd bought my partner's book in a different city months earlier. That revelation entailed an autographed business card. That was unexpected and gratifying. It's these readers that make it all worthwhile.

And I learn new things each year I do this. I hear lines, listen to people, interact with people and reap fodder for future ideas. Everyone has a story inside them. Some share with me, some tell me to use it in a book. Sometimes I can, and do. Sometimes it's just a memory that I hold onto.

So, if you attend a Ren Faire and see a writer, stop by and chat. Even if she does look sweaty and limp and has dust up her nose. Chances are, you'll get a pretty good chat. You might even discover a wonderful new book. HUZZAH!


  1. What a great picture, JennaKay. Wish I could visit your booth. I understand what you're saying about people needing instant gratification. I've tried renting booths at local events, like our town's Whoop-T-Do and Park Fest. People buy the games at the neighboring booth but barely glance at my books.

    Anyway, hang in there. Meeting potential customers is fun. And you never know...

  2. I had a great chat last weekend with a fellow who had died of eletrocution. Obviously, he came back. This had happened when he was just about 20 years old and he was now an old man. He told me all about the OOB that he had. It was quite fascinating.

  3. You're right about the instant gratification thing. I should think it can be frustrating when folks only seem to want the swords and stuff, but it must be a great feeling when a reader comes back to buy your next book :)

  4. I love going to Ren Faires. Your booth looks great. Hang in there!

  5. Great photo! I always wanted to go to a Ren Fair. Your booth looks great!

  6. Thanks for the comments on the booth. That was last years pix. We redid the booth for each weekend this year and finally settled on a winning design. LOL We had fantastic traffic for the books this last weekend. The weather was perfect for the Faire - not too hot, no rain. And the new design for the booth really put the books front and center, drawing in the people. It was wonderful. :)