When you are an author, one of the most terrifying experiences, I think, is confronting the public: between imagining / writing a story behind your computer while reading the feedback on the different platforms, it's already stressful, but the being live is worse than a big 8 ride! I faced the exercise both in a bookstore and at a book fair after a few months: it was deliciously maddening with contradictory emotions, and full of very different encounters!
For what ? Because unless you are a "big name", people don't know who you are or what you offer as a universe, when you sit on your little table at the entrance to the store or on the aisle of your stand. So, before you can even discuss your novels with them, you must already be able to get through them... Like all of us, when we wander somewhere, our gaze scans our environment and stops on something that attracts it, knowing that we are all different (and fortunately!). So, at the beginning, the most difficult thing is to overcome your shyness or your fear of disturbing, and to call out to passers-by with even just a hello and a smile to let them know that you are there. There are those who return your greeting and will come and talk to you, and those who will pass on for a whole bunch of reasons (which should not be taken as a personal rejection, but as a hazard of the game).
Then, you have to be able to hook up the barge to pitch your universe/novel in two or three sentences maximum, because that's the time they'll want to give to determine whether it's worth staying or not. So there, you need to have prepared yourself a minimum to have a fluid and understandable diction in order to be at ease: because if you are, your interlocutors will feel it and will be too, without commercial pressure which would push them to escape to other horizons. And this moment of exchange is just great when you manage to bring someone into your world! I met kind, curious people, addicted to Fantasy or on the contrary the antipodes of these codes, but all the discussions were always interesting to understand their expectations, their desires and to take them or not, with me, through my novels.
Because, and this is the most important point in my opinion, even if the mercantile aspect is necessarily present, it is not the reason for this type of event. No, the heart of these actions is sharing. In any case, that's how I want to experience it. And when it happens like that, I think sales follow naturally, without needing to push like a steamroller to make numbers. Sales which may or may not be immediate. The proof ? I spoke with two young girls at the Boulogne Billancourt book fair for almost half an hour about how I wrote my first novel, and explaining my world. They were super curious and open, and it was a real pleasure to share my passion with them, even if they left without buying anything from me. And poof, a few hours later, just before closing, they came back and broke down, because “they had discussed and arbitrated their purchases in relation to their budget”. I wasn't on their shopping list, and they had to find a compromise. In the Cultura bookstore where I had a signing session, I met another who preferred to order my duology as an ebook to be able to read it in full, because it was the same price as a single volume in paper format.
Another example of these special moments? I think the meeting that moved me the most was a lady of a certain age who didn't read Fantasy at all, and who laughed to herself while reading my summaries. She bought me a book and said "I needed to forget and laugh today, and thank you for doing that." This completely illustrates my goal when I write: to allow people to escape and offer them emotions to dream about! Daily life is a large part of our mental load, and reading is a good way to relieve it for a while. Of course, this doesn't solve anything concretely, but I am convinced that it allows us to breathe a little to better manage what may arise next. Her joy when she left with my book clutched to her heart was an emotion that I will never forget! Because I had put a little magic in his life!
To summarize, I would say that these experiences were important and a great learning experience for the budding author that I am.
The + : sharing, meeting people, emotions.
The - : shorn-consuming, energy-consuming, not necessarily "profitable".
Quantified results : I made around twenty direct sales on average during each of my meetings, which is a priori, a very good “score”.
Future project : I will participate in the Salon du Fantastique at the beginning of April 2023 at the Parc Floral in Paris and will try again at the Boulogne Billancourt book fair in December 2023. For book signing sessions, I am open and will seize future opportunities.
And what do you expect from this type of meeting? Is this something you're looking for or not? Tell me in the comments because I'm really curious to know your feelings!