A table stacked with books from Practical Fox

Our Book (Faire) Report

Practical Fox had an amazing day at the S2 Small and Self-Published Book Faire in the St Johns neighborhood of Portland earlier this month. We set up our little table with our half-dozen titles, and publisher Kristen Hall-Geisler put on her best bookselling self for the day. It worked! Books were indeed sold.

KHG also had great conversations with other authors, publishers, and booksellers, as well as readers who stopped in to fill their tote bags with books. Author Doug Geisler spent an hour in the booth to chat with everyone about his book Beat the Boss, and KHG read from chapter 2 of Memoirs of a French Courtesan Vol. 1: Rebellion, the part where Céleste finds her dog Mouton. People do love a story with a dog in it.

There were short, five-minute readings every hour throughout the day, which turned out to be the perfect length. It was enough time to read a pretty good section of a story without losing the audience’s attention. It also precluded any explanations or banter from the stage; readers could just get on with the reading. Highlights included Alina Eady, who read from her book for neurodivergent kids about the Five Finger Family. You may think it is boring to learn about the fingers on your hand, but believe me when I tell you Alina had the audience, well, in the palm of her hand. The day was bookended by poet Nastashia Minto (whose first book KHG worked on as an editor). Her work, and particularly her performance of it, is powerful and not to be missed. Truly one of KHG’s favorite poets.

Lessons Learned

Of course we wanted to sell books, but part of bookselling is connecting with readers. Practical Fox hasn’t done an in-person event since the winter of 2020, so this small, local book fair was a great way to relearn the ropes and make changes.

The first thing we learned was that the way Voyage Around My Room by Xavier de Maistre is not adequately described on the PF website. It’s always been a hidden gem here at PF headquarters. When people stopped by the booth to ask about our books, KHG would give a little elevator pitch for each title. Surprisingly, when she gave a quick description of Voyage, one far shorter than the copy on the back cover, readers were into it. We sold several copies that day, which was unexpected. So the web copy will definitely see an update soon.

There were also tech lessons to be learned. The card reader that Practical Fox has used for years to sell books in person no longer works with the official PF phone, since it was upgraded to a model without a headphone jack. So a newer, fancier reader that can accept more types of payment was ordered at the last minute with all fingers firmly crossed (thanks, Five Finger Family!), and it performed seamlessly on the day.

Memoirs of a French Courtesan News

Volume 1: Rebellion is out and about and available wherever paperbacks are sold online. It’s also available through your local bookstore if they don’t have it in stock already. The ebook has turned out to be a challenge for distribution reasons (publishing is weird), but you can always buy it from the Practical Fox website.

Volume 2: Spectacle is with the editor, and the cover designer has sent preliminary ideas. It should all be finalized by the end of the month, so look for a cover reveal here in the newsletter in May! There will also be discounts, preorders, and giveaways over the summer as we prepare for publication day on September 10, so stick around.