I have been busy preparing for the Handmade and Homegrown Festival at Hever Castle (1st, 2nd and 3rd of September). This is all very scary – but to be honest, everything about selling books is very scary.
I happened to see an advert for the festival, and remembered that when I had been giving a talk at a local bookclub, a man had suggested it would be a good place to sell my books. I wrote to the organiser, asking if writing and publishing my own books qualified as “handmade” and was told that yes, I was welcome to apply for a stand. I then had to send a photograph, which thankfully I had because nice Mr East Grinstead Bookshop had taken some when I did a book signing there. (The photo was of the stall – not me – you don’t have to pass some beauty level before they give you a stand!) I also had to send £40, which added to the scariness, as unless I sell lots of books, it will increase my Cobweb Press debt even more. But I have learned that you don’t get anywhere in starting a business unless you take a few risks.
I received my “you have been allocated a space” email, put the dates in the diary and forgot about it – after I had booked my Mother – she is by far the best salesperson in the family. I didn’t think about it again (because that’s how I cope with scary things which aren’t happening today) until Husband (who copes with scary things by planning well in advance) suggested we needed to do some preparation. So, off we went into the garden, to make a ‘mock’ stall.
I have been allocated a 3m square space. We measured this out and marked it with lumps of wood. It wasn’t terribly accurate because the dog kept running off with the lumps of wood. We then set up garden tables in a variety of positions. I was, to be honest, a bit shocked by how big 3m is – I had envisioned one small table with 10 books on it. Probably just as well that Husband insisted I had a trial run. I then tried balancing several books in different formation on said tables. Mandy (my ‘special needs’ cat) found this very entertaining, and joined it. Which wasn’t very helpful. I realised I needed some book stands like Mr East Grinstead Bookshop has – so checked out Amazon and found some that were cheap. (Though it all adds to my ever-growing debt.)
I have one poster, but I need more as it’s such a big space, so we ordered those (more debt). We also put out some chairs. As the space is big, there’ll be room for a few people (ie bored husbands and tired mothers) to have a little sit down. While they’re there, grateful for a chance to rest, my Mum can chat to them (she is very good at chatting to people – not a skill I inherited) and they will have the opportunity to buy a book. Or at least to look at them. I think I’m sorted now. If you are in the area at the beginning of September, please pop in and say hello. I will be the scared looking author with the chatty mother. Possibly the blind one – I am wondering if I can pretend to be blind, and then I will be allowed to take my dog, for moral support. And I might get some ‘sympathy sales’. Yep, am liking the idea, will practise ‘being blind’ for the next week and see how I get on.
Other news in brief:
We went to Cambridge to visit Son 1. His flat is disturbingly tidy (disturbing because I had not realised ‘tidy’ was within his skill set, and I feel rather cheated by the previous 23 years of organisation levels.) Cambridge is very nice. It has barges, and a lock, which we had to pry Husband away from. It also has incredibly pretty buildings, lots of Mandarin speakers (good opportunities to eavesdrop) and way too many homeless people. Why? Why are there so many people begging for money? Have they gravitated to Cambridge because it’s a tourist town, are they victims of the ever-increasing rents, or are they students who flunked their exams? Very strange and rather sad.
On the journey home, heard Son 2 chuckling in the back of the car. Asked why he was laughing, and discovered he had picked up a copy of Invisible Jane. Rather gratifying. (So, it’s a ‘girly book’ with funny bits – that also makes 21 year old blokes laugh!)
Yesterday, we went to Bluewater. Shopping (not my favourite thing). We needed new curtains for the bathrooms. They were all hideously expensive, so I felt drawn to the ‘bargain bucket’. Am now regretting this, as I instead have hideous curtains, which I will have to alter. Sewing is not something I enjoy (whole family leaves house when I sew due to bad temper.)
Hope you have a lovely week. Thanks for reading.
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Invisible Jane – A love story with funny bits!
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