Not the highlight of Arisia for me, but it happens. The programmers ask if you're an author, and if you are, they'll generally slate you in with a couple of other people to sit behind a table and read some of your work for 20 minutes. Who comes depends on who actually recognizes your name, cares, and has the time. I was lucky: Last time one of the readers had a small following and some family at the conference, so we had perhaps eight people in the room for a 10am reading on a Sunday. This time, one of the readers failed to show, so it was just two of us, and the reading was for 10pm on a Saturday. Not precisely a great slot, but you take what they give you. Nobody — other than the other reader's (the gracious Susan Hanniford Crowley) publisher — showed, so we hung around for about fifteen minutes, took some pictures to look official and then headed out. Main disappointment for me: That I left a perfectly good blackjack tournament downstairs to make sure I got there on time.
But, you get your lows and you get your highs where you can, and you don't complain about their sizes. For me, the highlight of the convention came on Friday, when I. Sold. A. Book. To a total stranger! Of course, as Ian — publisher of Fantastic Books, good pal and the man who graciously let me put my self-published "Home for the Holidays" (available on Amazon! Print and Kindle!) on his table in the dealers' room — noted, the books sell best when you're there to explain to people why they should have them.
So I was volunteering behind the Fantastic Books table while Ian took a short break, and a man stopped by, glanced at the wares, and ultimately picked up a book whose title escapes me, but which had some kind of Egyptian theme on its cover (it's "Servant of the Jackal God," for reference). He mentioned offhandedly that his wife likes this kind of thing, and I ventured that maybe it was about sci-fi in historical periods? No, he said, more like mysteries and such.
At which point I happily waved my hand to the corner of the table and said, "Well, if she likes mysteries…." and noted that the first story in this lil 'ol book over there happened to be a murder mystery. Well, the title story isn't so much a mystery but there is a death and a cover-up and well, it should appeal. It was accurate. I may have also noted that I was well-acquainted with the
author. And to my great surprise, he not only picked up the book but bought it — and I had my first in-person sale to a total stranger complete! I should have taken his picture. Instead, I took a picture of the money.
That was a rush. And yes, all I have to do is duplicate that 99,999 more times before someone else might really take notice. But it counts. It counts. You don't complain about the size of the highs. You just take them.
Coda: Ian related this later to me. Apparently my Customer returned later in the evening and asked if "Ms. Dawn" was around. He told her I was off in the con somewhere, and he said he'd been the one to buy the book and had read the first story. (At this point in the narrative I was thinking, "Damn! He tried to return it!") Instead, he next said, "Just tell her I never want to get her mad."
Done, and done.