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Selling at markets: {almost} one year of experience

Have you ever tried selling your books at a local market? I did my first one in June of 2022, and yesterday was my fourth! I’ve learned a lot over the past year of doing it.

I was at the “Spring Is Coming” Square Lemon Market this weekend. This was my third Square Lemon market and it’s always a good experience–I’m not even just saying that; there’s always a good number of people, decent sales, and free coffee (!). I mean, that’s pretty great! They run once a month at the Glebe Community Centre.

Setting up at the Market

As I’ve done more of these I’ve gotten pretty quick about set up. With Nic and Theo there to help it’s always really quick, plus I’ve learned kind of “how” exactly everything should go on your standard table over the last year. Practice makes perfect.

With books you really need to add a couple of extras for visual engagement/appeal. I have some knicky-knacky stuff and a shelf to vary the height a little bit. You don’t want to overdo it, but I do notice my sales are better than some other displays I’ve seen where there’s little visual interest.

PS those boxes are fruit crates from the grocery store – I probably bought 25lbs of tomatoes in them at a time. They’re fantastic for carrying heavy books & market stuff around.

Selling the Books

The other thing about having done a few of these markets now is that’s I’ve got my pitch pretty much perfect πŸ˜… The first time I did one of these I didn’t really know what to say, how to make a connection with people walking by, how to explain the book plot or give some interesting little details… I think I’m getting pretty good at it now!

Part of what I’ve learned is to be really, really active in reaching out to people. Say hi. Comment on their cute t-shirts. If they seem like the type, ask if they write too. This also helps me meet people in the Ottawa writing scene, which is a huge benefit. Sometimes I even get other people’s contact info!

Lessons Learned

It was a nicely successful market. In terms of my year-to-year experience:

MarketBook SalesNotes
June 20226*
Plus two knock-on
First market; figuring out what I was doing
August 20226Actual indie-and-small-press book market (not a craft market).
Better idea what I was doing, but it was SO SLOW. Like zero traffic!
Great sales-to-engagement ratio actually πŸ˜‚
October 202223I mean, that number speaks for itself.
I have no idea why it was so high. Traffic? Close to Christmas? Was I particularly engaging that day?!
March 202311Pretty good! Trending in the right direction (if you ignore October 2022, which I might never repeat again lol).
Note that I did increase prices for 2023 ($20 each or 3 for $50) and it didn’t seem to noticeably impact sales.

Conclusion

If you’ve got a chance to sell at a local market – go for it. My sales are really good at these (I mean selling 11 books/day on Amazon? unless you’re one of the very highest selling indie authors, it’s really unlikely). People really like the local author appeal, and being able to describe the books, how and why you wrote them, parts you especially like, and inspiration drives a lot of sales.

You’ll definitely want a Square card reader ($60), something for visual interest (little shelves work well to break up the height monotony); something to catch appeal (cute signage); and business cards for people who are “maybes”.

Good luck!

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First draft of INTO THE GREY complete

I just want to sit here and type I DID IT I DID IT about a hundred times πŸ˜…

It. took. YEARS to get through that draft. I started just over two years ago – February 26, 2021! Hard to believe! In that time I’ve published three novels (lookin’ at you, trilogy) and am about to publish BOOSTRAP() (just one more month!).

I wrote the first draft of IDENTITY in 2017, and released it in 2021… four years.

First draft of BOOTSTRAP() in 2019, and released it in 2023… four years.

Following that trend it’ll be 2027 (!) before INTO THE GREY is born into the world. I hope I can manage to trim a few words from it in the meanwhile; did you notice it’s currently one hundred forty two thousand words long?! It kills me. I don’t know how I’m going to revise it. I secretly love it while being simultaneous terrified. I mean, IDENTITY was only about 95,000… and it was not easy to revise.

Plus, y’know, the story isn’t done. At least two more books, I’m thinking, to fully tell Riann, Elisabetta, Damon, and Sierra’s story… and uncover the mystery of what’s happening on the fateful isle of Avalon. Oooh. I’m excited to discover what happens in the next book already 🀩

Let’s explore~
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March!

Is it just me, or did January and February vanish? I’m not at all sure what happened to the last 60-odd days!

February was a just-keep-trucking kind of month for me, writing-wise. I added about 12,000 to Into The Grey, and I can feel it wrapping up now (which is good, because it’s a beast at 130,000 words). Here’s an excerpt from the last few pages:

Things are starting to move in the Five Fiefs.

I also added about ten thou’ to the untitled Nine Hundred Golden Suns prequel. Honest admission: I’m not feeling very excited about this story. I’ve been having a hard time with prequels in general lately; I tried a Bootstrap() prequel for NaNo 2022, and lost interest at about 56000… which is where I stopped working on the untitled NHGS prequel, too. It’s probably a sign that I need to get out of those universes and tell some different stories. That said – Into The Grey is really going well!

On the reading front, I’ve got a goal of reading 75 books this year, and I’m one behind. I think I need to prioritize some more fiction, because nice angsty fiction is always super inspiring to me when it comes to my own writing. In February:

I can never ever get enough Mansfield Park variations where Fanny marries Henry (Unfairly Caught). It’s my own personal Janeite obsession. My favourite read this month was probably re-reading Screwtape Letters – I love those, they’re so good! Least favourite? My Happy Marriage, which Amazon swore up and down I would definitely enjoy. Spoiler: it was super boring.

Actually now that I look at that list, I have been reading lots of fiction. Hmmm.

In other news, work on Bootstrap() continues. I’ve got I think five (?) chapters of the audiobook done now. It’s been a process, working out what works and what… doesn’t. I think I’ve got it down now. The edits to the ms are done, except that I’d like to maybe expand on the ending a little bit. Maybe. I don’t know; maybe the epilogue is enough. I’m wishy-washy about it.

Oh, and I’ve been running a lot. Three times a week! It helps keep the plotting brain clear.

Til next month!

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June progress & July Goals

I think I need to start this post off with: I’m 1000 kicks away from home, and writing this on my cell phone, both of which explain why this post is late. It’s also sort of hard to drop links into a blog post from my phone, so bear with me.

Some progress on one front last month: I re-read Bootstrap_ and sent it for a read by a friend. It’s a bit long in the middle and I need some help cutting–I think if I can figure out about ten to fifteen thousand words to cut, it’ll feel a lot quicker. Right now it stand at 110000.

On fantasy-related novels, I added another ten thou’ to Into The Grey. But guys, I am struggling with that novel. I think it needs another 30 to be complete (to the point I would call the novel complete) and it’s going to be just ridiculously long. I did look up the first Game of Thrones novel, and it was something like 295000 words. It just feels so long! Like I’m slogging through molasses to keep writing… And writing… And writing…

I also had a great idea for one of those short Amazon novellas–you know, the ones with titles like I Married a Merman. Started on that, only 1000 in so far but enjoying it. I think it should be significantly easier to actually finish a draft of than, say, ItG.

Aside from writing, I sold at the Glebe Community Centre in the middle of the month, which was a pretty new experience for me. You really have to put yourself out there to sell in person! I’m not a very chatty person really, so this was stretching new muscles 🀣 I’ve got another book sale in August and I think one every other month sounds about pleasant for me. I might to Ottawa Comic-Con in September but I’m leaning towards no.

JULY GOALS!

  • Bang out the entire draft of The War Lord. I’m only aiming for 50-60k, so this is achievable
  • If I hear back from my beta about where Bootstrap_ drags, think about cutting it
  • Add another 10k to ItG (perpetual goal 😭)

Quiet month this month, goals-wise. I’m on vacation in Nova Scotia right now, which is definitely influencing my sit-down-and-write time. I’d rather play instead πŸ˜‰

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May progress & June goals

I. am. exhausted.

There’s so much going on, this progress report is a week late! Oh well. C’est la vie.

Last month I worked considerably on Into The Grey.. It’s now sitting at about 117k words, and nearly to the end (*of the first novel in what ought to be a trilogy, eventually). Riann is finally, 117k words after we met him, actually going… into the grey πŸ˜‚

Book sales were OK this month. I also signed up for a couple of in-person events (😲). I’ll be at the Glebe Community Centre on June 19th, and at Lansdowne in August for the Ottawa Book Expo. Preparing for those has taken up a lot of mental bandwidth… I’ve made bookmarks, ordered a Square card reader, ordered 20 copies each of the trilogy (and they are HEAVY), etc. The bookmarks look pretty sweet though.

Just ignore my nail polish

Otherwise it was fairly quiet for writing. Now that Into The Grey is (nearly) first-draft-complete, I’ll be re-reading it to fill in any gaps or weird time skips, then setting that manuscript aside for a while. Not sure what I want to work on next–maybe a revision of Bootstrap_? Or I have a story idea percolating in the back of my mind about Junu and Presio-ru from the trilogy…

GOALS FOR JUNE:

  1. Complete Into The Grey draft one! (β€Ό)
  2. Re-read Bootstrap_ and note anything that wants improving. Tentative release goal for December 2022…?
  3. Sell books at the Glebe Community Centre! I sure hope!

personal · Uncategorized

Heft

They’re heavy. Unexpectedly heavy. I didn’t realize that 283,000 words would weigh so much, take up so much space. When you spend hours and days and weeks writing on a phone or a laptop, editing the same way, words are ethereal little bits: Sure, they add up in the word counter, but that’s the only way to measure progress. Now that I have all three paperbacks out I can actually hold them, feel the realness of each and every word.

Just in this series (I mean, the entire Nine Hundred series, not only this trilogy) there’s about five hundred thousand words. How much would that all weigh? If, someday, I published everything–Into the Grey, Bootstrap_, At The Edge Of Our Star, The Spice Merchant’s Wife… It might fill an entire bookshelf. Would I still have more stories to tell? Probably. The more I write, the more I seem to want to write. If I were going to give a new writer one single piece of advice, that would be it. Write every day. It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare, it doesn’t even have to be much. But the more you write, the more will come.

I’d like to get all three of those into one hardcover copy one day, but right now Amazon has a page limit of 550, which isn’t enough. I’d like to see Murah and Yuun’s stories there too, and Mattrim and Eli’s. But right now I’m just amazed that imagination can be so heavy. So weirdly real, despite being just a story.

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April Progress/May Goals

Have to open with this of course:

Although ack-shu-a-ly April was an amazingly busy month, reading-and-writing-wise. Other than Sacrifice, I:

  • added 11,297 words to Into the Grey (current total; 99,150)
  • started publishing AT THE EDGE OF OUR STAR on Wattpad
  • started trying to build actual engagement with baby steps on Facebook:
Yes I know this is a baby infant goal (a fetus of a goal) but ya gotta start somewhere
  • Ran the giveaway for Identity which ended with 3242 (!) entrants and six winners (copies are on their way!)
    See my evil plan at work to get more reviews muahahaha
  • Adopted this cuddly panther
I guess he doesn’t have much to do with writing, but he is awfully cute

Goals!

  • keep adding to Into the Grey (I would dearly love to manage to add another 30k words this month… 1k per day keeps the, um, doctor away?)
  • work on the hardcopy complete collection of the trilogy (I have this idea of publishing the whole thing as one illustrated hardcover)
  • one chapter per week of At The Edge Of Our Star! I’m enjoying this Wattpad experiment. The daily tag rankings are addictive
  • Keep building engagement on Facebook (can I manage 1000 reach? That would be good!)

Oh, and shoutout to my friend Crow who published her first book in April! Congratulations!

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Three days to go!

…until I can finally cross goal numero uno off this list:

Also the trilogy will be done done done. Can you believe it?

Actually, what I can’t believe is that since writing Identity in 2017, I’ve not only completed this trilogy, but added two new prequel stories. For NaNo this year I’ll probably add another one. I can’t get this universe out of my head.

I had the idea the other day that in a few months, I could release all three books as a single, 700-odd page hardcover. With, like, illustrations! It would weigh a ton though… not terribly practical.

I’m glancing over the proof one more time this week, but it looks good (although, randomly skipping through pages, I did notice that I repeated a phrase twice in a paragraph! It’s amazing how that can get through a literal year of review and multiple extra sets of eyes). I’m ready for it to be done. Honestly? I’m less excited than relieved, which might sound weird. But I have been working on this series since 2017, so.

progress

March Progress + April Goals

Haven’t done one of these in a long ol’ while!

Last month was really productive. I mean, just this alone:

Yay. I got through the whole entire thing with purple highlighter + pen (not red pen though: blue pen).

I also started a revision of… The Spice Merchant’s Wife! I haven’t talked much about this project online. Originally drafted for NaNo 2010, this (…and its sequel, and its sequel) has been sitting on my ‘to-edit’ folder for years. What’s it about? Well, on a ~mysterious island~ populated only by women, down-on-her-luck gentlewoman Ciara is forced to marry brash spice merchant Ene despite desperate curiosity to explore beyond the shores. Why are there only women? What happened to the men? Will Ciara like the adventure she’s been hoping for when she finally gets it?

Right now I’m just doing a basic structure-and-grammar edit, because it’s in rusty shape (my first drafts ten years ago were nothing like the first drafts I put out now). I’ve got three about-50k-word manuscripts that I’m probably going to collapse into two parts, and add considerably to (they’re skinny lil things). Of course, that’ll take a bit longer than April, but progress is progress.

Sacrifice now has a release date of May 1. During April, I’m going to give Identity a bit of a facelift–I’ve been working on a slightly updated cover (see below), and I’ll go through again for stray words and general prettiness (and glossary-izing. Identity doesn’t even have a glossary… yet).

As always, I’ll keep puttering around the edges of Into the Grey. This monster now weighs 87 853 words. I’d still like to enhance the third section of it–it’s the least well described, at the moment. I’m thinking this draft is going to end at about 150 000, which is heavy even for high fantasy, unfortunately. There’s just a heck of a plot of plot there, what with Riann, Elisabetta, Damon, Sierra, Morley, the fae, the high court…

progress

Another book, another round of edits

I got the proof copy of Sacrifice in the mail last week, so I’ve been going through it with a highlighter (purple, of course)

Now all of the pages look like that (some better, some worse). It’s amazing how many textual errors there are after I’ve revised after–goodness, six now? revisions. And multiple beta reads!

It feels good though. Once Sacrifice is completed, I’m going to go back and re-review Identity, then this will be… done? The trilogy will be done?!

Oh, that reminds me of my favourite part of Sacrifice: