After the Hershey Crafts Show

On Saturday we spent the day handselling books at the Hershey Winter Arts and Crafts Show. Four days later, I’m still feeling the effects. Or maybe it’s the change in the weather, in which autumn decided it had enough and moved out.

It was two months of anticipation, racing to get the Punch book finished and ready for production, designing the posters, banners and flyers, getting the table set up, fretting over the details, much earnest discussions over the placement of Teresa’s bags versus Bill’s books and where to fit the promotional cards and bookmarks. Then, there was the day before the show, setting up the booth in the living room, a last-minute purchase of the cash box, and loading the SUV so that we can get up at 6 a.m., get out the door by 7, and set up by 9.

Setting up for the Hershey Winter Arts and Crafts Show. Children make wonderful minions.

Setting up for the Hershey Winter Arts and Crafts Show. Children make wonderful minions.

And we did it. No terrible stories that we can tell and retell. Rather boring, actually.

Six hours later, we had distributed a lot of cookies and flyers, talked to a lot of people, and sold $115 in books and bags, enough to cover the cost of the table and most of our other expenses. And we learned quite a lot.

* There is a subculture of dealers who travel the craft-show circuit. They get to know each other, know their products and prices, and trade information about the quality of the shows, their customers, and the tricks of the trade.

* That some craft dealers don’t make all their products. Some hire Mennonite girls to do most of the sewing. Others get away with buying crafts from China, finishing it themselves, and calling it “handmade.”

* Some craft shows are turning to a juried model to keep out the China-made craft dealers.

We also learned something about Peschel Press and its products. Six hours of describing our books succinctly will do that. We learned just how niches our books are, even among people who like to read books. I can see us being more successful selling books at mystery conventions, and with the 223B Casebook series coming, at Sherlockian gatherings such as the 221B Con in Atlanta, or the Scintillation of Scions gathering in Maryland (although even there, it would be a subset of people who a) like Sherlock the fictional character and b) like historical parodies and pastiches).

At least we have the Christie and Sayers’ novels, and even a true-crime entry in the Palmer books. Given a few years’ work, this could be the foundation of a line of books.

But we really need to get our own works out there, and that’s under way as we speak. In the meantime, I need to pop some more ibuprofen and get back to work.

Ready to sell books.

Ready to sell books.