5 Questions That Make Authors Cringe


I attended a book festival this past weekend, in Memphis, TN. The experience was awesome; plus, Memphis has some delicious food. My professional writing journey started 5 years ago. I released my first book, a collection of poems called Blurred Vision, in 2011. Blurred Vision was a self-published work, which required many hours of research on my behalf. Since then, I have had the chance to attend many writers’ conferences and author events. I was able to connect with some great authors/publishers in Memphis this weekend. As an added bonus, I was able to gain some great exposure for my books.

However, there are a few things I’ve noticed that seem to remain true at every vending event I participate in. Let me put the disclaimer on the table that this post is not a reflection of this weekend’s event coordinators. The purpose of me even writing this post is to share my feelings about people who attend these events. There are certain things us authors (especially independent authors like myself) are a tad bit burnt out on hearing though. So, here are 5 things (in no particular order) I hope to never hear again when a potential customer comes up to my table.

Is your book available on Amazon?

This is the most common question I hear at vendor events. Are my books available on Amazon? Yes. Do I have my books in ebook form? I do have one ebook; but I’ll get to that later. However, when I hear this question, it sounds like, “I don’t have the money or don’t want to purchase your book right now”. Believe me, I understand that my books are not for everyone. Why wait to get the book through Amazon though when you can get an autographed copy in person?  Eesh. It’s a mystery I’ll  never be able to understand.

Do you have any ebooks for sale?

This is a close cousin to the first question. I understand that ebooks are the new wave and the preferred method of reading for many people. However, there are certain genres I believe are more suited for physical books. Poetry is definitely one of those genres. I think of poetry as more of a sacred form of writing, because it’s usually so personal to the author. Novels, self-help books and even cookbooks are genres better suited for ebooks. This is the main reason why my only ebook is Honesty Box. The book is a compilation of poems from all three of my poetry books. There are also some new poems mixed in there too. I wanted to offer an alternative to the ebook readers; but the true essence of each book will only be felt in the print form.

Can you tell me what your book is about?

“How can I buy the book without knowing what it’s about?” That’s a fantastic question. Authors have a very limited window of opportunity to catch the attention of a potential buyer. As much as I love telling people what my book is about, I can’t carry on a 10 minute detailed conversation about it with everyone. That means I’m missing out on other customers. Questions are fine, but please limit them to two minutes or less (especially if there is no intention of purchasing the book).

Do you have anything for children?

I get this question quite frequently. Most people assume that my novel, Fortune Cookie, is not the best choice for their pre-teen child. Poetry gets a different rap for some reason though. I’ve had people ask me if any of my poetry books are suitable for 3rd graders. No! Sure, there are some poems in there that 3rd graders can read and may even enjoy. However, I am not in the business of children’s books. I write poetry from my personal experiences and perspectives. I apologize that those experiences are not kid friendly. Please, let me direct you to the children’s literature table.

Do you have any discounted books available today?

Payment is expected for services rendered. Writing (and even selling) books comes at a cost. Don’t get me wrong. I publish books because I’m passionate about what I choose to write. I’m not an author for the sake of making fast money. Many authors gravitate towards ebooks because they believe that they will save a lot of money and increase earning potential. This can be true in some cases; but the author usually only sees up to 40% for each book sold.

Most ebooks are sold for $7 or less. So, do the math on that one. Professional  cover design and editing can’t be short changed from a book publishing perspective. Whenever I attend a vendor event, I usually mark my books down from the standard price. The price at the event is actually a “sale” price. We all love discounts, but there has to be a line drawn somewhere.

For those of you who may be customers at a book vendor event, these are some questions to keep in mind. I say keep in mind as to remember not to ask them if at all possible. I’m pretty sure no one reading this is guilty of any of these things. Just please tap your neighbor if they are or pass the info along to someone who is.

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