In the Rearview Mirror: Texas Book Festival

There is a new "Donate" button in the right column on each of the linked sites.

At this writing, the planet has moved two and a half days beyond the 2018 Texas Book Festival. This places it approximately 53 million miles from the points it occupied relative to the cosmic microwave background during the moments I packed up books and display and departed my designated table. Time may have dragged between sparse interactions, but Terra spun and continued its circle of Sol as the star hies around a vast galaxy hurtling through ever-expanding space. If only perspective paid down the mortgage.

This was my last scheduled vendor appearance of the year. Falling for the organizers’ prediction of 60,000 attendees, I let hope spring that this outing would redeem earlier losses. There may have been 60,000 attendees moving through several city blocks of closed tents holding the “real” authors and publishers. I never saw them. Fewer than 600 came through the open “Pavilion” at the event’s farthest backwater. Most of those (no exaggeration) were taking a shaded shortcut from their cars to the tents, or back to their cars. The Pavilion is the containment facility for indie authors and small presses. I am not its only vendor who will tell you a Pavilion table was not worth the cost.

There were bright moments. A couple hundred of the folks moving through were looking for books and authors and, just maybe, something unexpected. Some of the encounters were wonderful. A couple were not. A few friends and friendly acquaintances happened upon me, although none from among my newsletter subscribers or social media contacts. No one I asked to come. A handful of people walked up as strangers, and walked away as something more.

One of my neighbors in the Pavilion was a publicist specializing in indie authors, who hosted two tables at which her stable of writers were featured in shifts. I knew at once that she’s a person of kind heart and large spirit, and also that if you listen she is very funny. She was impressed enough with my work that Saturday night she huddled with her husband, a retired publicist for one of the big commercial houses, to come up with a new approach to promotion that I can (hypothetically) handle solo. Sunday morning, she greeted me with, “I went home last night and told my husband about you and your situation, and asked his thoughts about how you might reach a responsive demographic, and he said, ‘Ooh! A puzzle!'” I would tell you her name, but she did this unasked, with no thought of compensation. It would be ungracious to chalk her door for vagrants in the writing life.

In brief, she and her mister suggest that I build promotion around Dvarsh Workbook, using Snapchat and Instagram to reach teens, keep the ties to Dvarsh, An Introduction strong as a step up from that entry, and let the rest of Habdvarsha come along by association. Her idea is that Dvarsh Workbook can build a teen audience that will grow up into everything else. It’s an angle I never would have hit upon, and I am grateful. The shortcoming is that I do not get social media. I still cannot wrap my head around Facebook or Twitter after years of use. Two days exploring Snapchat and Instagram have left one boggled author. I can make all the images my adviser spoke of making, and I can upload them to the vehicles, but then what? Really, then what? How does one draw attention to something no one knows about? I keep smashing into this opacity.

Bearings in the old cranial wheels smoke as they spin. The idea is original and will be useful, if I can only spy out the ABC of implementation. In the meantime, the most recent in a series of costly engagements with conventional method has proven a bust. My resources are exhausted. Asking for help is another thing I have no idea how to do properly, but a moment of crisis does not approach—it is upon me. Forgive the clumsy appeal. Please, help. Most wonderful would be a flood of orders for books on hand. Failing that, there is a new “donate” button in the right column of each of the linked websites. Even an odd dollar helps bridge the pit. Please, help.