I thought this title was nicely official sounding and also just alliterative enough.

Anyway, the longest book signing in history, featuring two somewhat introverted people who are a bit averse to crowds and noise going to a festival, is over. By now you've all seen a photo of either me or Emily at the display table, which Emily laid out after telling me to go do something else. But here's a photo of the table with Emily and a guest who stopped by: My father, Delbert. They're munching on caramel corn at this moment, which we'll talk more about later.

 

 

The first surprise was when we were setting up on vendor's row, and I discovered my cousin Earl has a booth right next to us. (I bought some antique coins from him.) In this photo that's his place on the left.

 

 

Then it turned out one of the people on the other side from us was a woman I used to work with in the emergency services. Unfortunately for me, among other things they were selling some truly yummy chocolatey stuff. Then the Noble County Gas and Steam Association set up across from us and started making caramel corn ... from scratch, in an actual kettle.

 

 

 Is this in any way fair to a guy who needs to make dollars, not gain pounds? Don't even get me started on the bacon, lettuce, and deep fried green tomato sandwiches they were selling down the way.

We were within sight of the stage, and over a three day period were treated to, among other things, bluegrass, 80s glam rock, country, rap, and the kiddie queen and king contest. Below is a long distance photo of Cougar Hunters, who I take it were hunting not large cats but older women.

 

 

 There was also a festival going on, and every once in awhile I got to walk around and take a look, although of course not so much at the busy times.

 

 Car show, too. Maybe I'll do more of a post on that later.

 

So, how did we do book sale-wise? Well, the first two days were kind of a disappointment, by which I mean a substantial disappointment. Still, by the end of the second day we broke even on our one-time expenses. By the middle of the third day we'd made up what we spent on other things, like the canopy and a folding table of our very own. 

If it had been a typical three or four hour book signing, I'd be crowing about the sales we made. Spread out over three days it wasn't so spectacular, but we did well Saturday afternoon and evening. We also got some bites--gave away business cars and bookmarks to people who, hopefully, will go on the website, or Amazon, or B&N, and make some purchases. That's one of the reasons we do public appearances anyway: to get the word out. I also got to do a blurb on the local radio station.

The one thing I've found strange is that so far we have't sold all that many copies of Radio Red -- the newest release. But that will come.

 Jeez, three days before the author appearance in Avilla. We got a new shipment of bookmarks to give away, and new business cards, both designed by Emily ... also a new folding table, and a new canopy, not designed by Emily ...

 

Oh, and we have books. It's very important, when trying to sell books, that you have books to sell.

 

But I always feel nervous and unprepared before these things. Mind you, we've done at least a few every year, since that first one in the summer of 2011. Well over a dozen at this point.

 

My first book signing ... which was easier to set up, because I only had one book to sell. Now I have nine!

One of my favorite places to have an author appearance was the Noble Art Gallery (which, come to think of it, is half a block from where we set up for the first one). It's inside, has all that art, there's a sense of history, and a big window with a view of the Noble County Courthouse. But I've been there three times now, and the most recent time last year was poorly attended; I suppose I went to the well too often. Still, they're the only brick and mortar location with copies of our books for sale when I'm not there.

 

You could say my easiest author appearance was earlier this month, at the Albion Fire Department's annual fish fry. They sold three copies of Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, even though I wasn't even there! But it wasn't really an author appearance, as I didn't appear, and it wasn't a book signing, since I didn't sign them. It's possible at this point that there are more signed books out there then there are unsigned ones, so maybe the latter are worth more.

 

Adding to my nervousness is that most of our appearances have been in Albion, although we've also shown up in Kendallville, Auburn, and Cromwell. Our trip to the Avilla Freedom Festival will be my first time in that town, so there's an air of uncertainty. Does anyone in Avilla know me, besides some emergency services people and the crew at the 4 County Mall? We'll see.

 

Meanwhile there's always worry about the weather, and getting set up properly, and finding the nearest bathroom. (Hey, I'm no spring chicken. And even spring chickens have to pee from time to time.)

 

Will our new awning get blown away in a windstorm? Will people laugh at me for taking books to a street fair? Will I sell zero books, and end up taking a loss? (It's happened before.) Will they have elephant ears? Will I get powdered sugar all over my inventory?

 

Stay tuned.

Here's the news release I sent out earlier this month for our appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival. It might be a good template for other authors to use, if you get set up for a book signing of your own. Or ... it may not be, since I came up with this myself. I have questionable confidence in my self-promotion ability. As usual, if you should know the news director for a major TV network, feel free to pass this along.



News Release

Local Author to Appear at Avilla Freedom Festival


            It might be an unusual location for an author appearance, but a local writer will be one of the venders at the Avilla Freedom Festival this year.
 
Mark R. Hunter of Albion and his wife Emily, who has co-written and edited some of his works, will be at the Festival along with other various venders, June 22-24. He calls it the “longest book signing ever”: They’ll be selling their works from 4-9 p.m. Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. until dusk on Saturday of that week.
 
The Hunters have nine printed works, in addition to three others that are available as e-books only. Their most recent written together was last year’s Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All, a humorous take on Indiana history. More recently Torrid Books published Mark R. Hunter’s romantic comedy novel, Radio Red. Set in Michigan, it’s his first published work not connected in some way to Indiana.
 
Together the Hunters specialize in not specializing, as their books cover several genres. Mark Hunter’s solo works are romantic comedies and a short story collection; he and Emily worked together on books covering history, humor, and young adult fiction. Together they’ll have copies of nine books available at the Avilla Freedom Festival, at prices discounted for the event.
 
The Avilla Freedom Festival’s website is: http://www.avillafreedomfestival.com/
 
More information about the authors can be found at www.markrhunter.com, or on Amazon at amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO.
 
 
 
 
Mark R Hunter can also be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MarkRHunter/, and on Twitter at @MarkRHunter 
 


 Would everyone please do me a favor and share the news about our upcoming author appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festival, June 22-24? It's especially important because, instead of a single afternoon or evening, it's three long days--at a location where passers-by might not be looking for books. In other words, we really need people to stop by! The Facebook event page is here, if you'd like to check it out and pass it on:
 
https://www.facebook.com/events/1531232943584860
 
Granted that we'll be selling at bargain prices, but even if you're not buying it would be great to see you. Pick up one of our new bookmarks, talk or ask questions about writing, bring us a lemon shakeup, or just keep us company!
 
And if you ask us about the book we've got planned to come out later this year ... we might just tell you.
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Weathering Indiana Festivals

In one of my books I included a photo of the Onion Days Festival, in Wolf Lake, Indiana. Never mind that it’s called Onion Days—that’s another story—but the photo was taken in the early 1900s, over a century ago.

Hey, I wrote the book; I never said I took the picture.

There are also photos in Albion of what would one day become the Chain O’ Lakes Festival. Those pictures were taken some fifty or sixty years before there was a Chain O’ Lakes State Park … so if the street fair had been called that at the time it would be some pretty amazing precognition.

While researching local history I was shown many photos of fairs, parades, and other gatherings from back a century or so: A late 1800s fair in downtown Kendallville, a 1914 wedding in the middle of Albion’s main intersection … to this day we’re still doing a lot of those same outdoor gatherings. (I assume they shut down traffic for that wedding, but maybe they had to use a team of wild horses to drag the groom in.) )

While hauling stuff out for spring cleanup I ran into a reporter right in front of my home--camped out, no doubt, hoping for a good quote, or a photo of me with my hair in curlers. (Just kidding: The newspaper office is just down the street, and the rest of town is just up the street.)

The next day he stopped at the house for an interview and we had a nice, hour and a half long talk about all aspects of writing and publishing, and I got to show off Radio Red as well as our other books. I also pimped our upcoming appearance at the Avilla Freedom Festivals, of course. But I don't know what all will make it into his article--I'm sure he has only so much space, and we covered a lot of territory. Turns out I love to talk about writing, go figure.

I'll let you know when it comes out! Meanwhile, as usual, check out all our books at www.markrhunter.com, or stop by here for the latest.

.

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