It was awhile back when another author, formerly in my local critique group, sent out e-mail about sharing a table at the New England Authors’ Expo. It would cost me $25. I usually hate to pay for an author event. But I remembered the words of my savvy businessman uncle, “You have to spend money to make money.” And I hadn’t done a promotional event in awhile so decided I might as well give it a shot. The date for the event was July 31st. I packed all my books and crayons and word searches and activities in a loaded over-sized suitcase. I couldn’t lift it, but I was ready. For this event I decided against bringing treats to lure over visitors, but luckily, many other authors brought sweets. Lollipops were a big hit that day.
I also struggle with giving up a beautiful summer day, so I hoped for rain. It ended up being one of those perfectly magnificent comfortable temperature days when you could enjoy any outside activity. I was inside a freezing air-conditioned room sitting and hoping for someone to stop at my table for six hours. But what could be bad about one hundred book loving/publishing related folk under one roof?
Well, surprisingly the time went by rather quickly. Lots of people stopped by and appreciated the illustrations of my books. There were all kinds of genres represented. Other authors, many self-published, said it was great for networking. I enjoyed sharing the table with Marcia Strykowski (http://marciastrykowski.com/), promoting her first middle-grade novel, Call Me Amy.
Right behind me, I got to reconnect with Lisa Greenleaf, selling her books, beautifully designed cards, and gorgeous paintings. She also instructed me on how to use the Square-One adapter for my i-phone, so I could accept credit cards. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to try it out.
Many want-to-be writers stopped by with questions. I love to talk books, though I know for me, a more children’s centered book gathering might have been better. But there were a number of teachers who took my bookmarks and cards that may end up in future classroom visits. There was a local talk show host who stopped by for a possible interview at a later date. And there was a local author, Michael Berry, who sets up interviews with other authors to air on Scrybes. (Find out more at https://www.facebook.com/Berryandcroft) I already have a date scheduled for the fall. I will be his first children’s author.
It’s not like I sold lots of books. But would I do it again? Maybe. I don’t know. Probably. You never know where those connections I made may lead. And one can only hope! It’s not always comfortable to do marketing and promotion, but if you want to be an author, it is most definitely part of the job.
What kind of marketing and promotional events have you felt were worthwhile, either as an author or as a writer or illustrator?
Nice post. I wish you sold more books but the contacts may prove to be worth more. What I find interesting is that I didn’t hear about this expo this year. I remember getting a card in the mail for last year but this time. I wonder if they cut back on advertising.
Maybe they did. And I agree with Marcia, it may build the number of attendees over time. But we’re not in it for the money, we’re in it for the love of writing and sharing stories that will hopefully touch lives.
Hi Carol—nice take on the Expo! I had a fun time and agree that making contacts was worth more than sales. As these events get better word-of-mouth exposure, the number of book-buying attendees will grow and I’m looking forward to participating again. 🙂
I do love talking about books and being with so many other literary folks. And it was great to catch up with you and get to hold your first wonderful book in my hands! Keep those successes coming!