This weekend, I rented vendor space at the Brandywine battlefield reenactment in West Chester, PA. Here’s how it was described on Brandywine2017.org:
800 soldiers, plus horses, canons, campsites, more!
Join us for a great day out, on the actual site of the largest land battle of the American Revolution. That day, 26,000 men fought right here in the Battle of Brandywine, later seen as the moment that started changing the tide of the war.
Plan to come before lunchtime to tour the camps, see the authentic 18th-century goods for sale, chat with George Washington (in an authentic replica of his battle tent complete with guards!) the Marquis de Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton… and stay for the amazing battle with canons roaring, horses galloping, and the clash of arms.
From my vendor space, I never did get to see those “800 soldiers, plus horses, canons, campsites [and] more!” And I’d argue that the website needed an editor, that every American town or city that saw a battle likes to make the claim of its historic, tide-changing importance – even when it saw an American defeat, which is exactly what happened at Brandywine – and that George Washington most definitely was not “in an authentic replica of his battle tent complete with guards.”
I was right across from his tent. It had plastic pieces to it.
Though, in the site’s defense, maybe he had a second tent somewhere off of Vendor’s Row where I was. I’m not sure. Plus, everyone who got to see the actual battle reenactment said it was phenomenal, and kids did indeed get to interact with General George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and General Anthony Wayne (not Hamilton), which was adorable to watch.
Besides, as an author, it was totally worth it. And I would totally do it again.
You’ll get no complaints from me! Even if it was an outside event that featured wasps on Saturday, yellow jackets on Sunday, and a deep red sunburn on my arms, one leg and the exposed skin between my neck and neckline to boot.
Oh yeah, and the people who ran the reenactment didn’t register me properly, which meant I had to drive a total of 2 1/2 hours on Friday just to trek across a hot field multiple times before I could locate someone to tell me what in the world was going on.
Nonetheless, I’m a happy little author!
I thought I’d had a great experience renting a vendor booth at the 2017 CHAP homeschooling convention, where I mostly sold copies of Maiden America and Designing America back in June. But Brandywine without a doubt tops it.
So why am I telling you this? Believe it or not, there is a point to these details, and it’s not to brag. It’s to show how well you can do, even as a self-published author, when you find your novel or non-fiction writing niche.
I knew very well before this point that my Revolutionary War-specific historical fiction novels would best sell to a crowd that liked – wait for it – Revolutionary War-specific historical fiction. It’s just a matter of finding them, when traditional bookstores are closed to self-published authors, online marketing is time and money-consuming with no recognized benefits, and even historical sites aren’t too keen on books that don’t have a recognized name on them.
But there are no such limitations to self-published authors who rent vendor spaces at Revolutionary War battle reenactments. Then, apparently, it’s just a matter of having an eye-catching display, an intriguing book cover, and the willingness to engage with interested customers.
As a result, I can’t wait to start researching my next reenactment event!