So here I am in Medford, OR, wearing nothing but my bathrobe because my clothes got all wet between the exhibit hall at the Expo Center and my car. But I kept my books dry, of course. The plan was to not have any books left over, to go home with a lot more space in my car, but no, this fair was a bust. In fact, we quit two hours early, and by then a third of the authors had already packed up and left.
Wouldn’t you know I’d try the Oregon Book and Author Fair on its first year at the Expo Center? The previous venues, hotels and libraries in town, not only attracted crowds, but they were actually warm. We had been warned about the heat being inefficient in the exhibit hall, but actually it was nonexistent. It was about 50 degrees inside, colder and raining outside. The concrete-floored hall was vast and ugly.
We were arranged at long tables with dozens of authors, who gamely put out books, postcards, brochures, bookmarks, pens and candy. One guy, who writes haiku books, wore a clown hat. Another wore a sweatshirt that said, a “Ask me about my book.” One author brought a model of a spine for her book on scoliosis. Another had model wagon trains. One had balloons.
All to no avail. There were no customers, except the authors themselves. I did my part; I bought five books and a hot dog. But I did not sell a single book. Even the one lady who assured me she would buy a book failed to show up at my table.
I did trade one of my books for another woman’s book. There was a lot of that going on. And I made some good contacts, I think. This Portuguese woman promises to get me on her TV show. Another author plans to invite me to her upcoming book fair, which she promises will have a lot more going on.
My tablemate, Jim Henson—not the Muppet guy—is a delightful man, full of jokes, stories and encouragement. We made plans to meet in Newport for the open mic at Café Mundo.
It’s not all a loss, unless you’re counting dollars. Let’s see, miss a weekend of work, drive 500 miles, pay for the dog to stay in the kennel . . . no, it doesn’t pencil out. But if you think of it as a life experience, it’s not so bad. I talked to lots of people, got to see the fall colors here in Medford, and I’m still enjoying the amenities of a really great hotel: giant-screen TV, microwave popcorn, pool, spa, fitness center, hot buffet breakfast, free newspapers, a heavenly bed, and an escape from the responsibilities of home. Of course, I have to eat breakfast with strangers, and the clock radio suddenly burst into loud music at 4:10 a.m. And there was that flat tire near Roseburg, but hey, it’s an adventure. I’m writing, I’m reading, I’m swimming, I’m watching TV, I’m going out to dinner. And I have a new badge that says I’m an author.