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  • By Kara Newcastle

Writing Wednesday: A Day in the Life of an Author at a Local Book Fair

Writing Wednesday: A Day in the Life of an Author at a Local Book Fair

I signed up for the New England Authors’ Expo in Danvers, Massachusetts a few months back, and thought I’d keep a record of my day. ‘Cuz, you know, you might be wondering what it’s like to be an author at one of these things. (P.S: the times listed aren’t precisely exact, but it gives you an idea.)

New England Authors Expo July 25 2018

6:45 AM: Wake up in confused daze, 1st mini-freak-out about work, realize that I changed my schedule so I could get to the book fair.

6:47 AM: Doze off.

7:30 AM: Wake up, start stressing about the book fair.

8:00 AM: Up, eat, dress, out the door.

8:15 AM: Hey, traffic’s not too bad right now.

8:16 AM: Crap.

8:18 AM: I HATE rotaries.

8:22 AM: Okay, traffic’s picking up …

8:24 AM: Crap again.

8:30-8:50 AM: Making good time.

8:59 AM: That’s right, you acted like a jerk and now I’m cutting you off. Suck my exhaust!!

9:00 AM: I’m supposed to be taking exit 22, WHY ARE THE EXIT NUMBERS GOING UP?!

9:21 AM: I better not be lost …

9:21:15 AM: Better get out the GPS.

9:21:45 AM: Oh thank God, there’s the exit! Still don’t know where I am though.

9:29 AM: GPS: “Take the next right …”

Me: “Okie-dokie.” (takes a right)

GPS: “After this one.”

Me: “God dammit …”

9:30 AM: Arrive at venue.

9:32 AM: Unpack car, head towards building, realize I don’t know which door to use. Apparently I look like I know what I’m doing, because people stop me and ask for directions.

9:33 AM: Meet another author who very kindly leads me to the correct door. We authors have to look out for each other.

9:34 AM: We’re the first two inside, so I get a super-sweet spot just to the right of the main doors.

10:00 AM: Meet Olga Morrill, the author of Vagabond Quakers. The book sounds so good, I’m more than happy to trade a copy of Nike for one. Thanks!!

10:20 AM: Break out the tablet and start drafting a chapter for Nike, Part 3. Why the hell is the “a” and the “w” not working on my Bluetooth keyboard?

10:30 AM: Author Ceara (pronounced “Kara”!) Comeau, author of Memories of Chronosalis stops by and is really interested in Nike: The Demon Road.

11:00 AM: 2nd mini-freak-out about work—I am going to be so tired tomorrow.

11:01 AM: Freak-out over.

11:27 AM: Resolve to work hard at writing and marketing to earn enough to hire an intern & publicist to do most of this crap for me.

12 PM: Go to a panel on getting interviews by Mike Morin. Good info, nice to hear tips from an actual professional interviewer on what interviewers want.

1:00 PM: Realize I need lunch. Learn that no food is being served.

1:45 PM: Not wanting to leave the venue to get food and risk getting lost—because that’s what would happen—I download GrubHub and order locally.

1:50 PM: Place order, am told it could take up to 50 minutes to arrive. I hope not. I don’t want to get hangry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m hangry.

2:30 PM: Food arrives early, yay!

2:31 PM: Discover that I should have specified certain details about food in order to avoid a very dry sandwich. Plus, I learned that a “small” order of fries is a relative term.

2:35 PM: Ceara Comeau comes back, we have an amazing discussion about writing, scifi, women heroes, the ridiculousness of “Mary Sue” and how we didn’t have many female heroes growing up. I eagerly offer to trade Nike for a copy of her first novel, Memories of Chronosalis. Thanks Ceara! Hope to hear from you soon!

2:36-2:45 PM: Eat lunch, wonder what the hell I’m going to do for dinner

2:50 PM: 3rd mini-freak-out about work on Thursday. That’s right, for a split second I forgot that I had to work. It was a blissful second, over all too quickly.

2:55 PM: Freak out over, now I want chocolate. No chocolate to be found.

3:19 PM: Downtime, do some proof reading

3:24 PM: Huh, it’s raining really hard outside.


3:24:05 PM: Scoop up valuables & bolt out into rain

3:24:18 PM: Return to venue after successfully closing car windows. Feet, legs & half of chest soaked from running out into the rain, then returning with umbrella only to have incredible wind gusts whip it under the umbrella’s edge.

3:28 PM: Get back to table after visiting restroom, proceed to reapply lipstick, have people decide this is the perfect time to talk to me.

3:28:08 PM: Pause w/ lipstick half applied to answer question just to have the question-asker be distracted by somebody else’s question to them

3:29 PM: Rain stops.

3:56 PM: Fellow author Artemis Crow wants to buy my book. AWESOME!! Take her card and swipe it through my card reader. Nothing happens.

3:57 PM: Try again. Hope I didn’t just overcharge her.

3:58 PM: Damn it.

3:59 PM: Damn it.

4:00 PM: DAMN. IT.

4:01 PM: FINALLY get phone to accept the payment.

4:11 PM: Get the approval to use entire table for display. It’s all mine, do you hear me?! MINE!!!!

K. Newcastle table NEAE July 25 2018

4:12 PM: Artemis Crow gives me one of her bird-skull necklaces in thanks. How cool is that?!

4:25 PM: Public is starting to trickle in.

4:28 PM: The AC kicked on again, so now I’m feeling cold. I put my sports jacket back on, but it’s still damp from the rain and I’m feeling chillier. Is it possible to get hypothermia indoors in July??

4:31 PM: Offered a visitor some tips and advice on self publishing. Didn’t sell a book. Eh.

4:33 PM: Another author came over to ask about my serval stuffie and to ask what a serval was anyway. Didn’t sell a book. Sigh.

4:40 PM: Telepathically instructing people walking by to buy my book. Apparently, my psychic powers are lacking.

4:54 PM: This going to take a while—HEY, DID SHE JUST WALK BY WITH A HUGE TRAY OF FOOD???

4:56 PM: No, it’s crackers and cheese. Well, better than nothing for now.

5:08 PM: Annnnnd it’s dead again.

6:00 PM: I am dragging now. Time to go on the hunt. Need caffeine.

6:01 PM: Bought the way cool, way-cute coloring book 33 Amazing Women (… and one overeducated gorilla) from author & illustrator Bridget Finnegan. I love the variety of different women in it. Thanks Bridget!


6:09 PM: Sweet, they’ve got tea out and OH MY GOD, THAT IS HOT.

6:15 PM: The guy whose mini Snickers bar I swiped from his table? That was Tim Baird, author of The Dragon in the Whites and Washington’s Dragon Hunter. I thought I recognized him, we met back in April at the Bigelow Library’s Book Fair in Clinton, MA! It was great meeting him again and we traded books. Thanks Tim!

6:18 PM: The tea is no longer surface of the sun hot. Awesome.

6:25 PM: Looking at people’s author photos. I don’t have an author photo. Do I want an author photo? Maybe I could wear a wig. I could pose with a sword—maybe a naginata? Nah. I could do a fall-themed one, but everybody does that. How much does it cost to fly out to the Parthenon for one photo? I could save money by doing a selfie … either I’m getting too much caffeine or not enough right now.

6:39 PM: If I climbed up the balcony, jumped off and started swinging from the chandeliers, would that help me sell my books? If it will, I’ll do it.

6:43 PM: A nice lady encourages me to do lectures about Nike at schools. And she took a business card to look up the book later. Thank you, kind citizen!

6:57 PM: Somebody asked me what age group Nike is appropriate for. I never focused too much on age group; I tried to write the book so it would appeal to adults but also be enjoyable for teenage readers as well. But put it this way … if you tell me that your 11-year-old wants to read it and I look at you in stark horror, that’s a good indicator that it’s not for kids.

7:22 PM: Authors are starting to clear out, even though the event goes until 9 PM. Do I stick it out? Well, less competition if I stay, I guess.

7:50 PM: Had a nice chat with Katrina Fiorella, the author of Calliope (I plan on getting a copy of that book too when I get a chance—all these books sound so good!)

8:05 PM: Well, if nothing else, everybody loves the book cover …

8:35 PM: Okay, everybody else is packing up, I might s well too.

9:00—9:45 PM: Reenact Death Race 3000

10:00 PM: I see a glorious neon light on the hill—fast food restaurants!

10:10 PM: Burger King. Haaave ittt yooourrrr waaaaay—and I plan on that.

10:55 PM: Home

11:50 PM: Okay, going to bed now.

11:50:02 PM: Crap, did I set the alarm for tomorrow?!

And next year I’ll do it all over again. Why? Well, I sold only one book, but I did a lot of networking with other indie authors, which makes it all worth it … although I might Uber it next time. People are idiots on the road.

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