Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sign of the times

I just returned home from spending a gorgeous day in Bar Harbor; one of the few such days we've had this summer. I did a signing at the Celtic Rainbow, well, I would have done a signing if anyone actually stopped to buy a book. For the most part, I had a feeling I would just be having a great chat with Linda Keady, the owner. She's always willing to have me at her shop, and I always enjoy being there, with or without sales.

For those of you who have never heard of Bar Harbor, Maine, here's a brief overview. Tourist trap of the most extreme sort. Hotels, restaurants, more gift shops than should be allowed in on small town, and yachts from around the globe. For those looking for more nature than glitz, there's Acadia National Park with its hundreds of trails, kayak tours, horseback tours, carriage tours—complete with tea and popovers!—and garden tours. A bit for everyone.

Needless to say, the masses from all over flock to Bar Harbor. Usually. Not this summer, though. The weather has really put a damper (pardon the pun) on the tourists trade. Shops were empty, sidewalks were passable and there were places to park if you looked.

It was the perfect summer day in Maine, yet the masses were nowhere to be seen. It makes me wonder if it's just a sign of the times economically, or if people really just don't care about buying books from the author anymore. Yes, I know there's a significant savings by shopping on Amazon or Barnes and, but it seems to me that there is less and less interest in going to hear an author speak or go to a signing.

Pretty much the same thing happened last week when I was invited to speak at our library. I hung posters, took out ads in the papers, send out invitations, and told everyone I knew. Most promised to be there and I was pumped to have a great night. I even made my Single Malt Whisky Cake!

Five people showed up, and one walked out halfway through.

Writing the books is the easy part. Truly! The rest is much like a bad business venture. Do you bail out and write it all off? Or do you wait out the storm and hope for better days?

I know what I'm doing. I'm going to do my part and write my stories and get my books out there. Then I'm going to rely on my readers to help spread the word. It can't be any worse than traveling all over and have no one show up.

But, even though sales were a bust, we had a great time. We ate well, did a little shopping to stimulate the local economy, and had a beer on the deck of a restaurant overlooking the water before heading back home.

Here's a taste of Maine at its best.

The view from the restaurant.

A globe trotter's yacht.

The Margaret Todd awaiting a crew.

A little local flavor.

A whale on deck while having a beer.


Cat said...

I truly think it's a sign of the times. I just got home from a "dog festival" in Cardiff by the Sea and it was crowded but I didn't see a whole lot of sales going on for any products or services. There was an author there who wrote a sequel (sort of)to Treasure Island and he didn't look very busy today either. I saw him when I first went in and of course had to stop and speak to him and decided to purchase a book for the kids at my library. On my way out I stopped to make the purchase so I didn't have to carry it around all day and seemed very excited to see me. He included a companion booklet and a "gold" dubloon for the price of the hardcover book...$20. Normally he said a book like that would go for at least $24 but sales weren't so good, so in the pre-sale stage they decided to price it lower. Don't be discouraged, things have GOT to pick up soon!

VP said...

Hi Mary,

Don't be discouraged. When you are surrounded by Scots next weekend, you are bound to have some interest. Let's hope the good weather holds for the Maine Games. We are looking forward to seeing you and Dan next weekend.


Mary Duncan said...

Hey Cat,

After I posted this blog, an author friend of mine from Colorado called me from a signing he was doing, saying he hadn't signed a single book either. He said the people were walking into the bookstore, but not making eye contact with him. It's not like I'm selling yogurt, he said to me. I told him I had the very same thing just happen to me, so perhaps the stars weren't aligned correctly for authors yesterday.


Thanks for the words of encouragement. I know being surrounded by Scots will lift my spirits! All those plaidies!!!

We're looking forward to the Games, and seeing you and Sue, as well.