‘What sells’ reflects on my first year of doing Craft & Gift Fairs through a wonderful South of England company called Mynt Image Ltd. ‘What would I not tackle’ is the IWSG question for today.
This is my Insecure Writers Support Group post, in which we share our successes and failures as writers, our insecurities, in fact. Anyone can join in, just sign up at the IWSG Sign-up page, write a blog post on the first Wednesday of the month, and go back to that sign up page to link with everyone else–or a goodly sample. Our host is Alex J Cavanaugh, and his co-hosts for the month are:
What sells at my Craft Fair stall: the past year in review
The end of August saw me decide to continue with the craft fairs for another year. It helps that my Public Liability Insurance has to be renewed then, so its a decision point for me. AND the organisers released their venues and dates for 2023, so I could book myself up for next year.
It became clear during the spring that I have some best sellers. Princelings of the East (book 1 in the series) sold 31 copies, and my dad’s memoirs White Water Landings (29 copies) were almost guaranteed at least one purchaser at every venue. So, surprisingly, was one of my short story volumes, Weird & Weirder (20 copies). I’m not sure if people buy it for friends/partners who are weird (or like to think they are) or because there’s a lighthouse on the cover. Lighthouses sell in this part of the world–pictures, cards, models, ceramics, and, obviously, books. I have no idea if they sell elsewhere as well. The Perihelix comes in fourth (14 copies); when I sell one, I generally sell more, including others in the series. But it doesn’t sell so well in the more touristy areas. Snowflakes and Shivers did well during the winter, as intended (10 copies).
Disappointingly, I’ve not sold at least one copy of each of my titles. I’ve sold the notebooks, but only four titles in the Princelings series (Princelings, Pirates, Traveler and Willoughby). Hopefully going back to the same venues will bring follow-on purchases..
My takings per show vary widely — from over £160 at one, to only £60 at another. Set this against an average table fee of £35 and you can see I’m barely breaking even before the other overheads. In all I’ve taken over £1200 for the year. I don’t know whether my low sales in the period before Easter were due to the time of year, venue, or just my selling technique. I’ve been back to those venues with more success since. My first fair was my least successful (although I was very happy to have sold some books!) so perhaps it’s me.
I ask people what they like reading. I have some (usually unstated!) reactions to their answers:
- Crime – well, yes, I read that too, but I leave writing it to others
- Anything, really – rarely takes any interest in what I have to sell, probably only reads ‘big names’
- Factual things – my dad’s memoirs, perhaps? This often gets interest, if not a sale
- Kindle books – I have these on kindle (I have sold four)
- I only read newspapers – sad misinformed b….
- I don’t read – a surprisingly large number, but some go on to talk about eye problems, others about dyslexia, some take audio books, and I’ve learnt a lot from them
- I’ve already too many books at home – there is no such thing as too many books
- You should see the size of my reading pile – bet it’s smaller than mine.
So, from my 12 days of fairs in 21-22 I’ve learnt a lot, and gained experience. Plus more sales than I’ve had in one year since kindle freebies changed – and nearly all of them in paperback! So I’m doing 21 dates in 22-23, including a new venue – Chichester. If you’re in the area, please check the fairs out.
I’ve also developed a few ideas of books to write, too.
What am I not going to write?
This is the answer to the IWSG question of the day. What genre am I not going to write?
I considered not writing romance, historical, crime or horror. But then, there’s a bit of those in all my short stories, and the only reason I don’t write crime is that so many people write it very well. I think I should focus more on what I’m known for – worlds not quite like our own, with different technology, and things that stretch the imagination.
Maybe I could safely say I’m not writing erotica. But there’s a very raunchy scene in Curved Space to Corsair, and I sold someone the series on the strength of that one scene! Maybe I should go down the scifi-romance line. But I’m not likely to write dystopia and zombies. Okay, I’ve done a short story or two, but I really am not going to bring out a whole novel with them – too depressing for me.
So, short story-wise, it’s no holds barred. Novels… no dystopian zombie apocalypses.
What about you?