One of my biggest complaints is that I never have time to sit down and read a book. I have piles of books in my office that I want to read someday. Well, someday is here—not just for me but for many, many of us.
Besides being an enjoyable way to spend time, reading books could also help the authors who write them.
For me, I sell my books through venues throughout western Oregon, such as bookstores, museums, tourist hotspots, tourist info centers, and businesses as diverse as a nursery and a winery. Many of these places buy five to 20 books at a time, but a few buy 30 to 80 books at one time.
Everyone of these places is currently closed. Tourism is very big on the Oregon Coast and during this pandemic, visitors are asked to stay away. Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that possible! My two best selling books are coastal travel guides. Hmm! So how about some armchair traveling?
I also sell books when I do PowerPoint presentations. I do them on the historic coastal bridges, the history of the Florence area, as fundraisers for animal shelters with Devil Cat, and on what it takes to put together a book like The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED. I’ve done about 60 presentations, and 10 of these were last year. I did them at libraries and museums where they were open to the public as well as to specific audiences such as at PSU in Portland last spring, an RV group at a campground near Florence last summer, and to 125 4th graders in Coos Bay last fall. One group of retired teachers that I spoke to in Lincoln City bought 75 books. And I even did a program on Devil Cat in California last year near where two of the stories took place.
I also sell books at book fairs, craft and holiday shows, and at the Yachats Farmers Market. In a normal year, I sell several hundred books. My latest book The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!! sold over 900 books last year. That is just one book and I have five, of which three sell quite well. But this year––2020––is not a normal year.
So far I’ve sold a total of 42 books. Three venues ordered books in January and some sold at Backstreet Gallery, but since then nada, zero, zilch! All of the venues that sell my books closed in March just before they would normally make their orders for Spring Break and the summer season. And no gatherings are being held. I’ve signed up for a craft show in May (which I just found out has been cancelled) and the Yachats Farmers Market this summer but don’t know if either will be happening. And we’re trying to figure out whether to hold the Florence Festival of Books in September. Planning begins in May and applications go out in June. We hope to be able to make a decision by May 1.
So no money is coming in, yet I have 1,500 new copies of The Crossings Guide to Oregon’s Coastal Spans arriving in May that will cost me $6,600+ (don’t know total shipping costs yet) for the printing of this 4th edition. I spent last fall working with ODOT to update this popular guide. So this will be the first edition of the guide to be updated since it came out January 2013.
I don’t depend on my book business to survive, thank goodness. But the income from book sales makes the difference between merely surviving and actually living. The money from the business pays for two to three trips to California each year to see family and friends and my share of vacation expenses that my sister and I take. We like to go somewhere each year while we can. Late next year I’ll turn 80. Hard to believe! I may slow down, but I plan to keep writing and selling books as long as I can. Grandma Moses is my inspiration. She didn’t even get started in her career as an artist until she turned 80. And my mother lived to be 105. So . . .
The point of all this is that all local authors are facing similar circumstances. So any help from the reading public would be helpful. Not only is this a good time to read, but to think about gifts for others.
Some of us are trying to sell online. I have tried posting a book a week on my Facebook page and reducing prices. Just the other day, I joined a new group called Florence Oregon Authors, which has been formed to help support local authors. It has a Facebook page.
So consider this a plea for help! I hope all readers and authors are handling being stuck at home in a positive way and are staying well. Hang in there! And read a book—lots of books!