Meeting fans

Buttons featuring images from my books. Some people just can't get enough buttons!

My display includes various merchandise. Pictured here: buttons featuring images from my books.

I love exhibiting. It’s energizing and fun. It’s especially exciting to connect with fans since my creative process is such a solitary one. From original idea to finished product, I create each book alone in my studio. And it takes time. I toil over the writing, illustration, type rendering, design and layout of each book to satisfy the vision in my head. Months and months of solitude, and the only thing compelling me to finish the project is the thought, “the finished book is worth all this effort.” So, to meet a fan that connects with my vision, buys a book and is now anxiously awaiting my next book, it’s just the most satisfying feeling.

The Mixed Media Market that happened at the Gladstone this past Saturday was everything I could have imagined. Visitors were engaged with the vendors and the event was superbly organized.

I stood behind my display for six hours. I can’t think of a better way to strike up a conversation with a stranger. Just a note: I didn’t have the forethought to take photos with my fans, and I realize that an article about fans without a photo of one feels incomplete. On the other hand, you can use your imagination and I like that.

I met Sarah. Sarah was visiting Toronto to see her brother nearby and stopped in to kill time. She was intrigued by my display and we talked about my work. Sarah wound up buying all three softcovers. I signed them and dedicated one to her. Every show, I connect with at least one person who fully shares my passion for the work I do and makes sure to let me know. Sarah was the one who made this day worthwhile. I humbly thank you, Sarah.

I met Michael. He bought a book as well. Michael was in Toronto on business at his PR firm’s head office. He lives in Chicago. I’m a Frank Lloyd Wright fan and I know that Wright’s work is all over Chicago. I asked Michael about it. As he gave me his card, he told me to call him when I visit, we’ll meet for dinner and he’ll tell me all about Chicago. I can’t wait! I’m taking my family for a visit this summer and I know who I’m calling.

I met another proud new owner of my book who had a familiar accent. I didn’t catch his name (he was in a rush), but he said he was heading back to Copenhagen. We chatted a bit in Danish and he went off to give my book a new home in another part of the world.

I met Johanne. She bought a book and we chatted while I dedicated it to her. Johanne was curious about why I’d chosen to self-publish. I explained that I just wanted to make books and didn’t want to worry about getting approval from a publisher. For my next book however, I explained that want to get an agent and publish in the UK or USA. Johanne revealed that she has been working in Canadian publishing for years. Based on her experience, Johanne warned that agents can be heel-dragging and money-draining. She said that small Canadian publishers on the other hand, are passionate about the work they do and work tirelessly for their authors. In fact, she said that Canadian publishers are devoted to the point of personal sacrifice. It gave me pause to consider what I want to do with my next book. Maybe an agent is the wrong move? I really don’t know.

As the day drew to a close, I felt a sense of vindication for the long hours in the studio that make my work feel self-indulgent and reclusive. I am a social beast just like everyone else, and at the end of the day, my books only have meaning when people other than me read them. After a fun day like this, I am full of gusto and eager to get back to the studio!

The next Gladstone Hotel event that I’m taking part in happens May 25th. It’s the Small Press & Literary Festival taking place between 10:30am and 4:30pm. For details, click this link. I’ll keep you updated on my facebook page too.

Please come by on the 25th and bring a friend. I love meeting new people.

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