To Peddle Your Wares

Street Festival Juggler

I think I’m done with street performance–or the closest thing to it that I’ll ever do: grinning foolishly from behind a table full of books (or “book” I should say at this point) in the hot shade of a street festival author’s tent. The dozen times I’ve done it have been an agony for me, honestly, and think I’ve suffered it for the last time.

I’ve been situated next to some pretty slick salesmen, able to strike up a conversation at the drop of a hat with a bored-looking cover-flipping passerby–they are able to feign a convincing amount of mock-enthusiasm for their wares, time after time. I’ve learned that if your book has pictures, this is your crowd; and if it is about ghosts or dogs or conspiracy theories, you’ll pay your gas money there and back.

So if I find myself having to commit to an experience where my role will be be passive and dependent on mere chance to talk in any depth about writing or the subjects covered in Slow Road Home, I think in the future, I’ll opt out. It just seems too desparate a way to get a book (and now note cards) before consumers. But then, writers–and especially self-published writers–can be a desperately hungry lot.

What I am looking forward to are the half-dozen or more opportunities I’ll have in the next two months to have my voice and my images and NOT just my “products” before people gathered for just that purpose. No matter how small the audience, I always come away gratified from these gatherings. I will have learned something about myself in what I say, and I always meet past or future readers of SRH or find folks who are otherwise kindred spirits and offer their overlapping stories that mesh in some way with mine.

I’m returning to the next book today with a change of emphasis, title, audience and voice. And I see how, in some distant summer, I’ll probably have to eat my words about eschewing book tents. But by that time with Book Two, I’ll be one of those who has pictures and color that draws a crowd. It won’t have any conspiracy theories, but there just might be a picture or two of a big, yeller dog. I’ll let you know when their ready; don’t hold your breath!

Share this with your friends!

Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

Articles: 3013

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.