This Little Squirrel Went To The Market

Did you know local authors can join in at the farmer’s market? I didn’t, not until a friend who rented a space for the season offered me the opportunity to take her place while she was out of town. But it makes sense now. I’ve toiled over my books, crafting them into creative items other people would enjoy. It matches the other non-food vendors.

Last Saturday was a gorgeous day. There I was with a table of books and an umbrella twisty-tied to my chair. I tried to set up one of those camping gazebos, really I did. Let’s just say it’s been almost two years since I last went camping, and that was the time my mom broke her knee. After trying to fit pole labeled “2” into one labeled “3” and failing, I tossed them back into their box and opted for a simpler solution.

I am a simple squirrel, after all.

Despite my tendencies to fluster easily and scamper away to the closest tree, I actually do like people. They are interesting to watch, fun to talk to, and have the innate reaction to engage when you make eye-contact.

Do you know how devious I felt? All it took was a smile and question: “Do you read fantasy?” Regardless of answer, I saw it—that glimmer of interest, a curiosity. Who is this odd person with books on her table, offering me a free pen? I got a few chuckles with the pen offers. Surprisingly, a lot of people said they had plenty of pens. Go figure.

I sold 11 books on Saturday. I also faced a couple of uncomfortable questions, such as, “Do you sell a lot of books?” Me: *nervous chuckle* You kind of have to promote your work to sell it…

I met dozens of interesting people though—a boy who writes fantasy, a girl who writes about animals, a man who wants to support his son’s novel, a friend of a fantasy author, and a friend of a local publisher. That last one left me in a bit of pain, as she’s one who asked the question mentioned above and promptly followed up with, “Well, then maybe you should get a publisher. My friend self-published and she learned how bad of an idea that was.” At least she was very kind to offer the name of the local publisher that her other friend runs, Aloha Publishing. Alas, they specialize in non-fiction.

Ahem, anyways.

I got pretty good at my pitch throughout the day. Though I ended up stumbling at one point when a mother and her daughters asked if there was any descriptive sex scenes, or describing people’s naked bodies. I have naked people (full-blood elementals don’t wear clothes) but do I describe it sexually? I wracked my brain. I remembered a comment from a beta about This World Bites and ended up closing the door on that one. What about Thanmir War? I was fairly certain there wasn’t anything explicit. I don’t write erotica. So, I said no. But I published Thanmir War in 2013, and my memory can be a bit faulty. Regrettably, there is a love scene between a married couple where a paragraph has some descriptive language.

Lady, if you are out there and happen to read this, I apologize and will refund your money if you find it offensive. It was never my intention to mislead you for the sake of a sale.

Ninja Squirrel Henna ARtAll in all, I had a lot of fun at the market. I was between a Henna artist and a woman who made delightful blankets and hats for kids. I met photographers and carvers and woodworkers. If you get the opportunity to join, I’d say give it a try!

Do you have a local farmer’s market? How do you respond to uncomfortable questions? Do you like to watch people?

Loni Townsend

About Loni Townsend

Wife. Mother. Writer. Ninja. Squirrel.

25 thoughts on “This Little Squirrel Went To The Market

  1. I know of a few markets out in two of the three cities I sort of live near and my daughter’s godmother once said she managed to sell a lot of her clothes and stuff at one, but I’ve never been to them, so I wouldn’t know if it was even a good idea.

  2. How fun, Loni! Congrats on selling the books! And good for you for working on your marketing/promotion skills. I’d have been a nervous wreck. 🙂

  3. LOL! Oops. We do have a local farmer’s market, and it’s very well attended, but I can’t imagine being able to spare an entire Saturday to sell books. (Shows how dedicated I am, eh?) If I could bum a corner on someone’s booth, I would totally do it…and give them a small share of the proceeds.

  4. Whoopsies! I guess we should make cheat-sheets for events like this. I can see how those details could be forgotten or mixed up. It sounds like it was a pretty fun time regardless of “the incident”. LOL

    I do love poking around the farmers market!

  5. I’ve never thought about doing something like that at a farmer’s market. I’ve been to several, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone selling books at one. It’s an intriguing idea. Sounds like you had a good time.

  6. How clever for marketing. Sounds like you had fun too. I know I like buying fresh stuff and I love books so not surprised you sold some. Thumbs up!
    Juneta @ Writer’s Gambit

  7. Eleven is a good number.
    Why do people ask that question? You should’ve turned it around and asked her how much she made per hour at her job.
    At least I’m safe when it comes to scenes that might be considered sexual. That would be a big no. I couldn’t write it if I tried I’m afraid.

  8. I love that Loni. Idaho (I think that’s where you live) is way ahead of California in the Farmer’s Market area.

  9. Yay for sales! It sounds like it was a lot of fun.

    I’ve been down to the Capitol City Market (but not the other one in downtown Boise) a handful of times. Gives me an excuse to pop into a bookstore and watch people. I’ve debated trying to get information on how to set up a booth, but I’ve always chickened out (and I only have the one book). I’d want to share with someone I think.

    As for the awkward questions – I kind of just flounder and my husband is often nearby and starts talking instead. Doesn’t help me become more confident on my own, but it has worked for a few sales so far.

    I have a few favorite places that I used to like people watching. One time I worked at the front desk of a busy university library so the stream of people (and what they were checking out/returning) was fairly constant. The other was when I lived close enough to take trips into Boston. I’d ride the T in and wear very dark/mirrored sunglasses so I could watch people. And because wearing sunglasses underground confused tourists. XP

  10. That is so awesome you sold some of your books at a market booth. I went to the Idaho Writers Guild luncheon yesterday where Scott Marchant talked about selling his hiking guidebooks at a booth as well. He’s been doing very well, and pointed out how a market booth is relatively cheap when it comes to retail space. Just think too how 2-3 or more authors could team up and share a booth.

  11. Loni, this is so cool!

    I’ve thought about doing something like this, but the nerves get the better of me. I love talking to my like-minded weirdo friends, but average, every-day people I think would give me an anxiety. I don’t know. But so awesome you did this. And 11 books!

    You go squirrel!

  12. I wish we had a farmer’s market nearby. I’ve heard other authors say they have great success there.

    I’ve had that question about the sex before. It’s tough to answer, because some people are really conservative about it and some aren’t.

  13. There isn’t a local farmer’s market as such but I believe further afield there are lots in North Wales. Went to one at a slate mine but that was just food.

    When I get to Boise, I’ll be checking out the ones there – maybe even find a stall with you selling your books. Cash will be exchanged of course.

  14. What a fantastic day, Loni!! Good for you and I’d forgive you for the ‘sex’ scene 🙂 It must have done your confidence a world of good. So when’s your next promotional outing? Keep going and get to know your readers. Congratulations.

  15. Glad it went well for you! When I attended my local writer’s group, there was an elderly lady in her 80’s who went religiously to the farmer’s market every Sat and set up a table for her books. Sounded like she always did pretty good too!

  16. What a great idea! And of course, wise people appreciate home grown produce, so of course they’re readers!

  17. Congrats on selling 11 books.

  18. I’d take a free pen, you can never have too many! Looks like fun – I;m doing my first author expo thing in November and am nervous about it…

  19. This seems like a pretty cool idea; I know I’d be surprised and curious if I saw someone selling books at a farmer’s market. ^_^ I’m not sure how I’d answer uncomfortable questions like that, as I tend to write unusual couples and I expect that people will be more likely to get upset about the characters themselves than what they do together. But at least for my current book, I could truthfully say, “No sex scenes, only cuddling.”

  20. What a great experience! One day I may follow in your footsteps. I’m still getting up the nerve to read my work aloud in my crit group. *shivers*

    I don’t know which one is worse. 🙂

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  21. how fantastic! i’m so excited for you!
    and i’ve joined several group vendor events, but never a farmer’s market – how awesome! it’s pretty great to be an author among miscellaneous =)

    way to go and now you are ready for more!

  22. I never would’ve thought to go to Farmer’s Market to sell books. What a fantastic idea! And then to sell eleven books, even better! That’s pretty darn amazing because most people avoid eye contact at all costs, so you must be a fantastic self-promoter. Well done, Loni! I’m happy for you. Oh, and I wouldn’t have been able to set up anything either. I’d be lucky to open a folding chair correctly.

  23. Farmers Market? Interesting. Would never have thought of that. As for Miss Manners from the publishing company, I might have jabbed her with one of those pens.

    Anyway… So glad you had a good time and sold some books. 🙂 Also, love your henna tattoo.

    • Correction. The friend of the person at the publishing company. So she’s an expert. (And the “scene”… Awkward. It’s like when I watch an old movie with my kids and ACK! forgot about that scene.)

  24. Congrats on all your book sales! I’ve been going to my local farmer’s market and have had some good sales. I keep saying I’m going to check into some of the markets in the neighboring towns but I haven’t done it yet. Too many other things keep cropping up.
    Encounters like that are awkward. I try to err on the side of caution when talking about those scenes so people won’t be unpleasantly surprised. As to the publisher’s friend, I’d tell her exactly why I prefer self-publishing over traditional publishing.
    And I do like to people-watch. I discover great characters that way.

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