So I did this thing this past weekend. I decided to step way out of my comfort zone and participate in the AAA Book Festival in Atlanta. Why would you do this, you might ask. Well, they say if you want different results, you have to do something you’ve never done before. Plus, I know that getting out and mingling with book readers in person is a great way to find new readers for my books. Here’s the tea on what went down:
I spent weeks preparing for this festival. First I paid the fee to become a vendor and that’s when the real work began. I toiled and slaved trying to finish the sequel to The Mistreatment of Zora Langston to no avail. I was only able to get about 12,000 words written in her next story because my inspiration changed in the middle of writing. Instead, I turned my focus to another tale.
It started out as a short story for an anthology I was asked to participate in. That was short lived when I was told the maximum amount of words for the anthology was 200. I was like What? Who writes a short story in 200 words or less, but I digress. That would never do for the idea I had so I wrote a different short story for the anthology. I loved the story I was originally writing so much that I was compelled to finish it. The writer in me had to see where the story ended up. I ended up finishing the story, but the dilemma was I was too close to the book event to have it edited, published and printed. My solution was to offer it as a pre-order at the book signing, along with the sequel to Zora’s story. That worked because I already had the artwork for both covers.
In between writing, I took inventory of my stock of books, ordered more to be sure I
had enough for the event. I also ordered bookmarks, postcards and a ton of other swag to display on the table. I even tried my hand at hand painting coffee mugs. A couple turned out great, but the one mug… let’s just say it would ruin my brand if anyone ever saw it. I have decided I am no artist, but you can’t blame a girl for trying. However, I am pretty crafty so I was able to make a few bracelets to sell at the show. The bracelets turned out great!
I decided I was going to go all out, this being my first book signing. I wanted to buy a nice new outfit, get my hair braided and spend a ton of money that I didn’t have on this thing. I quickly came to my senses. I went shopping, but apparently the universe was telling me to sit down some where because I couldn’t find anything I wanted to wear. I took a look in my closet and decided on a nice summer dress that has been hanging in the closet for a few years. I have worn it a few times, but not often. Wardrobe – Check! As far as my hair, I simply washed it and twisted it so it would look good on the day. Hair – Done!
I also had the big idea that I was going to take 10 of each book to the festival with the goal of coming home without any books! I knew it was an ambitious goal, but hey I aim big. lol Anyway I think it would have been doable.
So there I was all packed and ready to go. My husband, who has been amazing through this whole process, loaded the truck and we headed to Atlanta. It is only a two hour drive so it wasn’t that bad of a ride. We got there a day ahead to make sure there weren’t any time issues.
Saturday was the big day and we had to be at the venue around 8:30 AM for setup. I knew it wouldn’t take an hour and a half to setup my table so we arrived around 9 AM. The check-in was smooth. I got my assigned table number and we were off. Things were well organized and some of the other authors were very curious as to how I was setting up my table. I was in go mode so I didn’t make a lot of time for chatting until after I was finished making sure everything was perfect. As soon as I was finished wiping the sweat from my brow, it was go time.
First order of business was to locate fellow author Yecheilyah Ysrayl and finally meet her in person. We have been online friends for about three years, supporting each other’s work and helping each other with marketing and promotions. I was thrilled to finally hug her. She is such a special lady. Someone came to her table inquiring about her book so that was short lived.
Soon after that I had two visitors at my table. One was a gentleman named Keith who looked at my display and purchased two books immediately! I was thrilled thinking the day was going to go great if this was any indication. I signed his books, but he he was camera shy so I didn’t get a picture.
Right as I was finishing up that sale, one of my avid readers appeared all smiles. Aleatha is a member of my reader’s group L’s Lovebirds that I have for my L. Loren pen name. She is always very active and has made friends with several of the other members. I was happy to meet her in person. She is from my home town and attended my high school, but I am a few years older than she is so I hadn’t met her yet. I was thrilled to say the least. Because her birthday is the 17th of July and mine is the 19th we share a special bond. Aleatha purchased two books as well.
I was off to a great start! 4 books in ten minutes! Woo Hoo!!! Well that excitement wore off after sitting and waiting for people to show up. Customers were few and far between. I was disappointed to say the least. you can’t sell books if no one is there. A few people trickled in and started coming through the aisles. I talked to everyone who passed by and tried to get them to come t my table. People stopped and inquired. Most of them were looking for children’s books, thinking that Zora was one. I made sure to explain the true content of the book and made sure they knew it wasn’t for a young audience.
Time passed and as I looked around the room, I could tell the other authors weren’t fairing any better than I was. We visited each other’s booths and chatted, but still no public. Thank God I send invitations to people I knew in the Atlanta area. I had a few friends come out just to support me. I was very surprised to see a high school classmate, who I had not seen since we graduated, come out just to buy my book! She actually purchased two and promised to go online and look at the rest of my catalog. I was so happy to see Lisa Williams and her beautiful daughter come out to support me.
My now grown nephew, who is quite the looker, surprised me by showing up with another former classmate of mine. I was over the moon to see my sister’s youngest son Andre. I still can’t believe he is a college graduate and living his best life on his own in Atlanta. Where did the time go? My high school classmate was good friends with Andre’s father and decided to come out to show some love as well. Mark is a veteran who was serving in Afghanistan and is now home safely, thank god!
My good friend Roni and her husband also stopped by and purchased a total of four books! She always shows up and shows out. I am lucky to have a friend who supports my dreams. I had a few more sales that day from people I did not know, but the bulk came from friends and family.
As I was packing up for the day, the daughter of a good friend came by to show love and support. She wanted to buy, so I opened up the crates and she purchased three books! Thanks for coming out Lai.
Overall it was an amazing first experience. I sold a few books and got to see some people who I haven’t seen in a while. I also made some new author friends in the process. Even though I didn’t make my sales goal, I enjoyed the day and am looking forward to my next event.