The New Bedford Book Festival is done, and all in all it was a good event — well-organized and well-publicized, and there was decent traffic. If anything kept people away it was the weather — not because it was bad; just the opposite. Both days were sunny and cool, so folks might have been more inclined toward outdoor activities. Nevertheless, I did well enough there I’ve already penciled in the spring show.
I also talked to a lot of cool people, including an aspiring author or two who I hope keep going on their projects so perhaps one day I’ll see them on the other side of the table at a future show.
I’d also like to give a quick shout-out to fellow writers and Cape Codders K.R. Conway (Cruel Summer, the Undertow series) and Ray Bartlett (Sensets of Tulum), who I chatted with at the show. Hope to see you guys again at a future event!
Before I move on, I’d like to remind everyone that the Young Adult Book Heist is still going on and will be throughout October. Head over to the Facebook page to learn how you could win a Kindle, free print and e-books — including copies of Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins — swag, and more, or go to the sign-up page now to enter.
Action Figures – Issue Six: Power Play: In the editing process.
Action Figures – Live Free or Die: In the editing process.
Action Figures – Issue Seven: The Black End War and Action Figures – Issue Eight: Still in progress and I have a writing weekend coming up, so let’s see how much more I can get done.
Action Figures – Issue One: Secret Origins: Audiobook recording in progress
APPEARANCES and EVENTS
The NBBF got me thinking about the ups and downs of doing any kind of show at which authors sell their wares, in part because it reminded me how bad some people are at it.
I mean that as a gentle criticism, speaking as someone who is an introvert at heart. I find interacting with complete strangers extremely uncomfortable and in daily life I try to avoid it. I’ve managed to get over that psychological hump well enough that I can function at shows, but there other elements that go into succeeding at book festivals, conventions, etc., beyond being personable and having a solid elevator pitch.
For any fellow authors who do or are thinking of doing shows, here’s a quick hit list of tips for making the most of them.
- Show up. I’m always amazed at how often someone never shows up or, more often, does the first day of a two-day event and, if it’s a bad sales day, never comes back. I understand that it’s frustrating to stand there for hours and never move a single book — I’ve been there — but you can’t make sales if you’re not there.
- On a similar note: stay the whole day. I see people packing up and leaving with a half-hour or an hour (or more) even when it’s a good sales day. As long as customers are there, the potential for sales is there. You can’t make sales if you’re not there.
- Stay at your table as much as possible. It’s always good to see what else is out there and chat up other authors (networking!), but if you’re constantly leaving your table to do something other than represent your work, you’re not there when someone wants to buy something.
- Look like you’re happy to be there, even if you’re not. No matter how bored or frustrated you are, suck it up and put on your game face. If you look like you don’t want to be approached, no one will approach you.
- Conversely, temper your enthusiasm. I was at a show this year and got stuck next to an author who would literally shout at passing attendees, “YOU! You like books! I have books! Come look at my books! Take one home with you!” It drove away more people than it brought in — and often before they even got near my table. Try and engaging people as a basic human being before you start trying to separate them from their cash.
- Don’t get distracted by your phone. When you’re sitting there mucking about on your phone, you look like you don’t want to be bothered (see Rule #3).
I could go on (and on and on), but as I write this it’s Sunday night, I’m tired, and there’s a bottle of Macallan calling out to me. Hold on, single malt bliss, I’ll be right there!