Sunday 7 September 2014

Fair enough!

Happy Sunday to you!
As planned, I was selling my books yesterday at the FOCUS  (Festival of Crafts Unique to Scotland)  Craft Fair in the Town Hall of the seaside town of Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. 

A fair to middling day, weatherwise, the blinks of sunshine had a few people out and about before lunchtime, though not the tourist traffic that is sometimes seen in Stonehaven in early September, I'm told. Sadly, it bucketed down after that and made for a very soggy wet afternoon, not many people wandering around so traffic into the fair was poor. I'm booked to attend a number of these fairs between now and Xmas, though in the process I'm doing a little experiment as well as selling books. 

On this blog on Friday last, I posed a question about the popularity of Historical fiction and if it isn't popular for readers - why not? I tried to ask the same questions at the Craft fair whenever I had a suitable opportunity.
  • Do you enjoy reading historical fiction?
  • What don't you like about reading historical fiction ( if the first answer was negative).
If the person said, and a few did, that they got bored reading about old kings and queens, I then asked - 
  • What if you were reading about ordinary people during eras of long ago, people who had the same issues as today like being displaced during/ or in the aftermath of war? Or people who had their livelihood removed from them by someone who settled on their land by means of force? What if the history in the story was there for authentic background knowledge and the story was more about how relationships fared during troubled times? Or the daring exploits, though relatively peaceable, that some people get involved in to thwart a take-over bid of their culture and daily life?  
The answers to the last questions were quite revealing. A few browsers bought a book on the strength that what was happening in my novels wasn't really so different from thing sthat happen today to ordinary people- and I stress relatively ordinary characters.

Overall, the answers yesterday were about 50/50 in favour of those who liked to read historical novels. I have to be realistic, though because the results were possibly skewed by my presentation materials. It may have been that more of the browsers were people already curious about history who stopped to talk.

The photo above is what my stall looked like. It was fairly cluttered but full of information. I think it worked in terms of being eye-catching enough for people to stop and spend some time with me (those who wanted to/ were curious). The printed images, second and third left on the photo, drew the attention to the fact that ancient Romans featured in my series and many noticed the iconic shape of the Bennachie range of hills in the photo second left. 

I had a number of conversations with browsers over the course of the 6 hours of opening of the fair. A few customers claimed they DO like to read historical novels but read ebooks rather than print. It was no problem to give them my business card and leaftlet with sufficient places to buy ebooks. One customer tried to buy the books in situ using her phone app and my set of Q R Codes. Unfortunately, the signal in the Town Hall was awful but I hope she was able to maintain it long enough to buy when she got a better signal outside. I live in hope.

One lady on holiday at the caravan park in Stonehaven, up from England, said she'd buy the ebooks when she got home to her laptop, since she didn't have a phone app to buy over the internet. When I explained the books are available from various places like Amazon and Crooked Cat Bookstore where she could get bonus points added to her account she flabbergasted me by saying she'd try Blinkboxbooks- the Tesco online store for ebooks, CDs, DVDs etc. I only found out about that option last Wednesday but was able to tell the woman she'd get 100 points for each of Books 2 & 3 if she was quick off the mark! I was amnazed that she knew of Tesco selling books.

Speaking to a couple of tourists from Virginia, USA, was lovely. They didn't want to buy print books since the weight factor is now very important for flying requirements, these days, but hopefully one of them will buy later on. One lady was quite knowledgable about Roman British history and I was glad to be able to pull out some facts about the Romans in Scotland that she asked for. I was able to give her the Roman tribal name for the place her 'Scottish' forebears came from since she couldn't quite remember it. Her ancestors came from western Scotland, north of Glasgow. In Roman Britain, this area was likely to be of the tribe of the Damnonii.    

A couple who lived near Stonehaven -though originally from Ripon, Yorkshire, England- were a pleasure to talk to. Both interested in Historical novels they had a nice basic knowledge of the Roman advances in Scotland.

 "Yeah, Agricola came here, ground the 'Scots' to pulp and then what happened? "said the man, or words to that effect. 

A stirring conversation developed. I was able to tell him a bit about the first 2 books of my Celtic Fervour Series being set in what would be modern day Yorkshire/ Cumbria. I also got the opportunity face to face to explain why I chose to use place names in those books which appear on current OS maps. He knew of some of my references and was quite taken when I told him my choice of battleground was Whorl. On today's map the hill area of Whorlton, which they recognised, was ideal for Celtic battle having sloping ground and a flat plain below for galloping horses and chariots. After a lengthy discussion, the man said he was convinced and would try out my writing. Yipee! I thought he'd take just Book 1 but to my delight he bought my wrapped pack of 3 books! 

My day was also made worthwhile when a lady asked if I'd be interested in talking to her Women's Guild. I'll await some developments on that one. She didn't buy my books but did say that if a booking is made she'd buy if I had stocks with me. Intentions are good, so we'll see. 

Of course, if interested, readers want to buy ebook versions they are available from many places. See the sidebars of this blog. 

How to spend a Saturday.   




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