To Market, To Market: What’s a Nice Author Like You Doing in a Farmers’ Market Like This?

“You’re selling your book at the Farmers’ Market?”

I could try for a real metaphorical stretch here.

“See, my book, it, like, grew from my imagination, and I, uh, watered and tended it through several drafts, and, like, weeded the extra words out, and then, like, harvested it and cleaned it up all nice. So, yeah. It’s really fresh, and, oh! Totally organic. And local. And gluten free. Want to try a sample?”

But I really don’t have to go there. Let me refer you to the Lopez Island Farmers’ Market Vendor Guidelines:  “…products must be produced, grown, gathered, created, hand crafted or prepared by the vendor.”

Produced–check. Created–check. Crafted–check, though not EXACTLY by hand. And…prepared? All those drafts, you kidding? Most definitely Check.


Gotta give credit where credit is due: I never would have thought of book-selling at our Market, much as I love it. My friends Ty and Nora, fellow garden fairies, gave me the idea.

What a blast!


The first time I went, over July Fourth Weekend, I sold 15 copies. Granted, seven of those were to people I knew, so that probably won’t happen again. And of course I bought some stuff: eggs. A bunch of lavender. Salmon-and-goat-cheese crepe. (Did I mention our Farmers’ Market ROCKS?)


But still, even with the Market dues, I came out ahead, financially. And socially? Off the charts.

I brought my guitar and sang away, quietly, as people strolled by. Pretty soon I realized the horrible acoustics of the Great Outdoors meant I could sing as loud as I wanted to. Bingo. People heard me, smiled, stopped. The songs provided a bridge between us: no uneasy eye contact (“Oh shoot, if I look at her she’s going to try to sell me something!”). Plenty of time for folks to peruse my display, reading the words from Amazon reviews which I’d enlarged and posted (on fluffy paper “clouds,” since my book’s about a flying girl 🙂 ).

Most of all, plenty of good feeling. They immediately liked this person, sitting there singing-not-“selling,” and felt good about talking to her. After we’d chatted a while, even if they had started out thinking, “What in the world would I want with a Young Adult book?”, they might then think, “Y’know, the neighbors’ kid likes to read…I’ll get this for her.”


Thanks, Ty and Nora! And thank you, Kristen Lamb, for the reminder: buying a book from someone you don’t know is a risk. These days, it’s an author’s job to reach out and take that risk away.

Who knew it would be so much fun?

I’ve met folks from Belgium, Japan, Mexico, and Australia. I’ve talked to random strangers about their flying dreams. (“In YOUR dreams, do you fly arms-out like on my book cover, or do you have wings, or…?”) I’ve sung harmony with other music friends who happen by. I’ve had my own, private Cute Dog Contest, watching the pooches stroll by (puppies win by default).

So I feel just fine about busting into this new gig, selling my “produce.” And hey. Did I mention my book is also gluten free?

Want to weigh in on Farmers’ Markets? Do you think they should just be for farmers? Or do you like having craftspeople there? Ever sold anything at a market yourself? Or…if you could, what would you sell?

Not About the Sales: My Kind of Author Reading

Social Media Maven Kristen Lamb had this to say on yesterday’s blog post: “Social Media Was NEVER About Selling Books Directly—Who KNEW?”

This girl may have agreed in theory before, but after Tuesday night’s Book Launch Party for my YA novel, The Flying Burgowski, now I KNOW how true those words are.

Not because I didn’t sell books. I did. But those sales are not what sent me home that night feeling so high on blessings that it took me forever to turn my brain off (even though I had to wake up @ 3:45 to bake for the opening of Holly B’s Bakery–but that’s another story).

Blessings? At an author reading? Oh, let me count the ways.

1. I got four of the neatest kids on our island to join me in reading various parts from the chapter. All four have had extensive experience in our island’s Community Shakespeare performances, and so they needed no coaching in delivery or projection.


{All photos courtesy of Lorna Reese.}

2. Yup–we have Community Shakespeare, all age groups onstage together, once a year. Which I am DYING to be a part of…if only I could figure out how to fit it in with the writing and the baking and the singing and the buying-groceries stuff…but yes. Just the fact that it exists = major blessing.

3. For a reading of a YA novel, I had a library full of people whose hair color was…let’s just say more silver than gold, OK? YA readers might not turn out for readings, but their parents and grandparents do, especially if they KNOW (or know about) and RESPECT the author (which was Kristen Lamb’s point).

4. Every time I looked out at my audience, I saw friends and future friends.


5. Our amazing librarians, Heidi Larsen and Lou Pray, not only introduced me, they asked questions during the Q & A, and set up a room full of art supplies and yummy treats for after the reading.

6. Art supplies? At a reading? Yes!!! Since my book is about a flying girl, my idea was to invite folks to make some art on the theme of “If I Could Fly,” and then have the results posted in the library. In the middle of my reading I thought, “Oh! That’s so lame! No one’s going to do that!” But lo and behold, when I got done signing books…there was a room full of happy artists of all ages, inner children as well as real ones.

7. Radio archives. Really. Our community radio station, KLOI, captured the event for a future radio show–introductions, reading, Q & A and all. Do I think many people will listen to it? Of course not! Do I LOVE living in a place where community radio records author readings? Yes, yes, yes–and not just because it’s me. (Well, maybe a little.)

I could probably go on listing blessings indefinitely. I didn’t mention all the one-on-one conversations during the signing, all the leads and ideas people threw my way–“Have you talked to So-and-so at Such-and-such?” “Ooh, my aunt’s a librarian, I’m sending her a copy.”  I didn’t mention the wonderful questions I got from the audience, many of whom are authors themselves, like Iris Graville, author of Hands At Work.

All I know is, THIS is why I published my book: to get it into people’s hands, to get them talking about it, and with me. To CONNECT. Bring on the author readings!reading

Does this match with anyone’s experience? Ever been to an author reading that was more than just a reading? Have any other ideas I can steal for my next one? Please share!


It’s OK. No one’s been hurt. She made it quick and clean. But for the next few weeks, there’s gonna be a new sheriff in town…


You have three people to blame for this disaster: my husband, my writer friend Iris Graville, and Social Media Maven Kristen Lamb.

I’ll start with my husband. Former professor at the University of North Carolina, therefore HUGE Tarheel basketball fan. When we moved to the Pacific Northwest 23 years ago, he continued to fly back every March to watch the ACC tournament with his fellow crazed fans friends.

During our sabbatical in New Zealand…yup. You got it. He still flew back. And when the underdog Tarheels WON that year, my husband became a legend among fans.

But he always hated the hassle of flying. So when he retired in 2010, he declared, “That’s it. From now on, I’m driving to Chapel Hill.” Then he uttered the fateful words: “You’ll come too, won’t you?”

And thus was born the Great Annual Cross-Country Road Trip. We are now about to begin our fourth. Along the way to NC and back, we’ll catch up with family members and long-lost friends, visit some national parks, and discover byways we never knew existed in places like, I don’t know, Oklahoma.

So, where does my friend Iris Graville come in? She talked me into attending the January Residency of the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. I got so much out of it, I attended a second year. And that’s when I took Kristen Lamb’s class on blogging for writers. Not only did she teach me to enjoy blogging, she convinced me that good bloggers blog REGULARLY. I.e., no excuses.

Road trip? Get out that iPad, girl, and tap away.

So I figure…if I’m blogging from the road…and I really do mean from the ROAD…I might as well make the road part of the blog. OK? Fair warning, though. I’m still getting the hang of this Device iPad. So I can’t blog in pretty colors, and you’ll probably notice a few more typooooos than usual.

But hey, I’ve learned to do this:


So, kids, buckle your seatbelts. I’ll check in every few days and let you know where we are and what we’ve seen. And meanwhile, you can tell me…

How do you feel about road trips? Love ‘me? Get carsick just thinking about ’em? Want to meet me in St. Louie?