by Samantha Knoerzer • June 17, 2015 • Follow SamanthaKnoerze
Published in Interviews • One comment
With the tsunami of high-quality books being published, authors are finding creative ways to market their books. We spoke with Joye Johnson who tapped into her local community with love of the Farmers’ Market to sell more books.
Why I love the Farmers’ Market
Flowers. Free samples. Tomatoes the size of your head! These are just three of the reasons I adore the farmers’ market. I love walking with a bouquet lovingly wrapped in newspaper, fresh from a chat with the flower vendor. The veggie seller who makes sure I want to buy the $5 tomato that I need both hands to pick up. The hummus guy who, like a worried uncle, insists that I try the pita bread and the chips AND the dip. Despite the fact that I don’t do mornings, I make an exception for my folksy, homegrown farmers’ market. No flash and no frills required, because the vendors let their amazing products speak for themselves.
How my first day at the Farmers’ Market was a dud
But how does this factor into my writing life? Two months ago, I decided to go from shopper to vendor and sells my books at the farmers’ market. My first day was a dud — no one knew what to make of the woman in a pencil skirt and black stockings. I got questions like ‘So you represent this Joye person?’ I was an overdressed stranger with an odd product – books. That I wrote. With a sunken heart I packed up my table and umbrella. A fellow vendor who had helped me with my gear that morning asked how my day went. I told him ‘no dice’. “Don’t worry.” he said. “I didn’t sell anything my first day either.” Yeah yeah, dust yourself off, I know.
Success at the Farmers’ Market
So I came back the following week. I wore jeans and a sweater. My mom suggested I put up a picture of myself, so I found one my photographer friend had entered in the state fair (and won a blue ribbon for). People who had seen me the week before commented on my casual attire. I got compliments on the pic. Others said ‘You’re a writer? That’s fantastic!’ and ‘How great to have a local author here.’ I got in conversations about the lack of diversity in literature, the struggles people deal with to make their interracial relationships succeed. I sold 11 copies, one to a middle school teacher. In fact, one of her students stopped by my table last week. “My teacher has that book.” She pointed to Cress in Waterbee. “She said it’s really good.”
How my books are doing
Since deciding to ply my wares at the market, I average 10 hard copies a week. And that is just one day at one market. Last weekend I spoke to a woman who is also writing a book. She looked down her nose at my little enterprise, saying that my sales weren’t worth the effort. She has much bigger venues in mind, which is fine by me. I don’t expect a mega-fortune from my writing. But when a young girl looked at the cover of my book and said ‘she looks like me’, I was able to talk one-on-one to her. I was able to share my enthusiasm for Cress’s story with her and her father. When she told me the next week how much she’s enjoying the book, we got to talk a little more. Her grandmother came the week after that and said “I’m reading your book. I like it.”
Why it’s not just about selling
The lesson? Selling in the farmers’ market isn’t just about dollars. It isn’t about convenience or deep discounts. It’s a place where the community comes together to improve its physical, mental and emotional health. Everything we absorb has an effect on us. What we read is just as important as what we eat. So go ahead – have a sample!
About Joye Johnson:
Joye Johnson was born in Rhode Island and raised in Orange County, CA. She writes young and new adult historical fiction, contemporary romcom, and sci-fi for women.
I am the Social Media Coordinator and Author Relations Manager for BiblioCrunch. And I love to read, OF COURSE! From the classics to YA and children's, you can find me reading it all. I have a masters in publishing from NYU's Print and Digital Media Studies masters program, and have undergraduate degrees in music, marketing, and english. I have a passion for reading, music, and travel. My goal is to travel to as many places around the world as possible. If you need to find me, you can catch me traveling all around the world at any chance I get – always with a book in hand!