Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book fair...book fail......

Last weekend was the Buffalo Small Press Book Fair. The event is held inside a beautiful renovated church:

This was my first local event. Last year, my promotion was concentrated on internet-based stuff- my blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc... But one of my goals for 2011 was to get myself out in my local community more. Show Buffalo that I am here and I am awesome!!!

Yeah...didn't really work so well.

The book fair is open to authors, publishers, book and paper crafters, etc... Basically if you do something and it uses paper in some way, you could participate. I had attended the event a few years ago and there were a ton of really talented people there. I couldn't wait to participate!

So I planned my table, and with my friend having to back out uncontrollably at the last minute, the table was all mine. So I decided to make it sexy. My books are sexy, so I made sure my table represented that:

And I dressed accordingly. I wore a fabulous dress and painted my nails red, and I wore a cute pair of shoes. But as the other tables around me filled up, I started to feel extremely out of place. My decor was wrong, my attire was wrong.....my book was just wrong. At one point, I was adjusting my dress (I admit, it was a little low cut) and looked up to see the woman across from my table glaring at me. She quickly looked away....but it gave me a good idea of what she was thinking. Me and my book did not belong there.

I had some people come by and say they thought my title was great...or the cover was striking, or the blurb sounded good.....but none of the comments led to sales. I did sell some books, but most were to my friends who came to support me. Only 1 book was sold to a non-friend.

But instead of letting myself get too depressed.....the St. Patty's party at a friend's house after the book fair helped...a lot!:

I told myself that this was just not the right venue for me and my work. There is nothing wrong with my work. I just need to work harder to find places where my work will be appreciated.

Hopefully what I have coming up will help. I spoke with one of my favorite little independent bookstores and we will be setting up a book signing. I did an interview last week with a small newspaper and that will run in next week's edition.


  1. Awww- I'm so sorry- but chalk it up to experience. Having the right venue helps. I'm pretty open minded about things- so i would have found your table fabulous- I hope with the other things you are doing you have better progress- Best of luck and I adore the pictures.

  2. Suggestion? As a former aspiring romance novelist, I know as you probably do the HUGE support group that exists in the romance community. I'd focus on that. I noticed a LOT of snobbery among so-called "literary" types when I wrote that, even for something like Heather Graham (romance author) having a booksigning at a local independent bookstore. I found the used bookstores were generally VERY supportive of romance authors, as they were generally owned by women and had a large customer base of romance readers. Also, any event hosted by RWA or an RWA chapter, as well as the Romantic Times conference that's held once a year. I'm not sure how open they are to small presses, but I do recall seeing authors go through what you're going through when it was outside of a romance venue.

  3. Thanks Summer!!!! If there's one thing about disappointment like this, it sure lights a fire under my butt!!! It gives me the motivation I need to look elsewhere....do more....put the plans into action that I have had in my head for months...years....

  4. I think your table is perfect for your book! I'll admit, I've run into some prejudices myself for writing romance and, like you, I try my hardest not to let them get to me. Just remember there's a whole lot of people who love your book (me included).

  5. Too funny...posted my comment just as you posted Stephanie!

    Thanks so much for your advice and commiseration!! I, unfortunately, do not belong to RWA. I had looked into it, but at the time, I just didn't have the cash (still don't!!). I found that they do have a local chapter and then I found one of my writers group members is a member there. I asked her about it. And from what she said, the local chapter is very focused on writing to the specifications to be published by Harlequin. And while I have no issues with Harlequin, it's just not me. I like to write what I want...and my stuff usually does not fit into the Harlequin "box". And I couldn't see the value in spending the money if I was not going to participate with the local chapter.

    But, this is just what someone told me...I did not experience it for myself. Maybe I will look into it further...maybe the online benefits would be worth the money.


  6. Stephanie, if you really want in RWA, there are online chapters, chick lit chapters... just be aware, RWA will not consider you published because your publisher doesn't pay an advance over $1200 (or whatever their snooty $ amount is). And yes, you're going to find a VAST majority of those ladies aspiring to HQN publication. And like you said, there's nothing wrong with that, but for some of them, they will think there's something wrong with YOU for not aspiring to that also.
    That said, you will find places where your books are not looked down on, and bookstores are one of those--they recognize how much revenue romance brings in.
    Also, I'm pretty sure you can send "goodies" to RomCon, Romantic Times, many of the romance conventions, even if you don't attend. Might be worth looking into.

    PS-- Your display looked awesome. Great job!

  7. And another PS--I've expressed this sentiment before, but: Literary snobs are buttheads.

  8. LOL Piper...I so agree!!

    And thanks for your insight on RWA!! I didn't realize they wouldn't consider me a published author though...that's very disheartening. And changes everything. I knew they had a chick lit division, but to be a part of that I would have had to join RWA first, then pay an additional fee for the chick lit part. But that was a couple years ago...maybe things have changed.

  9. Sorry the event didn't go well. :( I write erotic romance, so I know I'll be faced with that too in some circles. It is what it is. Close-minded people are going to get judge-y. To hell with 'em. :)

    As for RWA, I do want to clarify something someone said above. You don't HAVE to get an advance to be considered published. Here's the rule: "Any RWA General or Honorary member in good standing who has either: (1) earned at least $1,000 in the form of an advance on a single Eligible Novel or Eligible Novella (“Option One”); or (2) who has earned at least $1,000 in the form of royalties or a combination of advance plus royalties on a single published Eligible Novel or Eligible Novella (“Option Two”) shall be eligible for membership in PAN (Published Author Network)."

    So you can be epubbed and get PAN status once you hit 1k royalties.

    And I have to say RWA is absolutely fabulous and by far the most supportive group and community I've come across. I honestly think it's a must membership for anyone who writes romance. (By the way, you can write off the membership fee on your taxes.)


  10. And don't take the opinion of one person about the local group. My local group is full of a wide variety of writers. A few want to write for Harlequin, but most are aspiring to single title--erotic, inspirational, romantic suspense, womens's fic, you name it.

    And at least half of the pubbed authors in the group are e-pubbed or with small presses. The group is extremely supportive and every month they put on super helpful workshops that are free to members. My suggestion would be to try out a meeting or two as a guest. You can go the first two times without joining. Get a feel for the people and the workshops. You never know.

    I joined mine over a year ago, feeling like an outsider, and now I'm a chairperson in the group and have met great friends. Also, if I had never joined, I never would've gotten Shayla Black (NYT bestseller) to offer a cover quote for my book because I wouldn't have met her in the group. So for networking alone, you should give it a shot. (my own very passionate opinion, lol)

  11. Oh, and they come out in droves for members book-signings. That was my original point and I somehow got lost on a tangent, lol. Okay, I'm leaving now. ;)

  12. Great table. They just can't appreciate the wide spectrum that is writing. If you ever hold a signing in Chicago, you have one confirmed non-friend purchase here. :)

  13. I love how you did your table. And any publicity is good publicity, right? You know the people who may have been judging you will remember you and may have been intrigued. :)
    Good for you for getting out there.

  14. Your table looks great - too bad the people who showed were too close minded to appreciate it.

    I second what the others are saying about joining RWA. Until I joined I couldn't get published. The members in my chapter are incredibly supportive, even of being published by an eBook publisher. They are all writers and they all understand how difficult it is to get published at all! I would say look into it, maybe they'll let you come to a chapter meeting before you actually join. But RWA has been so supportive in helping me establish and continue my career. Even my husband sees it's value and has encouraged me to pay the dues again this year. The magazine they send has some really helpful articles that have helped my writing and the workshops both at the conferences or online have been awesome tools. It's not all about HQN.

    BTW your book looks awesome! Can't wait to read it - I have it downloaded to my Kindle!

  15. I'm sorry you had a bad experience, but it seems like you've learned a lot about finding the audience that's right for you. I think that's fantastic!

  16. Ick. Feeling out of place is one of the suckiest feelings ever! I'm sorry it didn't go as well as you'd hoped but I'm glad you're going to keep looking for venues and someday you might be able to laugh this off- OR use the experience in another book!!

  17. Thanks everyone!!!!

    Kindros...I hope to one day do a book signing in Chicago!! :)

    Thanks Erin...you're probably right!! My name is getting out there now....but I just hate the thought of people judging me and my work without even knowing me.

    Thank you Constance!! I hope you enjoy it!!!!! It's good to hear some different opinions on RWA!! Gives me lots to think about!!!

    Thanks Domey...I certainly did!! Things like this definitely light a fire under me...I was expressed about it for like a day and then used it to move forward and do what needs to be done!

  18. As soon as you said "beautiful renovated church," I said: wrong venue! I'm glad you came to that same conclusion but sorry you had to deal with the awkwardness first. I'm pretty open-minded, but even I might feel a little embarrassed showing too much interest in a book by that title and with such a sexy-looking cover while walking through a church (it's actually on my Goodreads to-read list, so please don't think I'm being snobby or an elitist in any way!).

    The fact that you even went and did this event is impressive. I'm such a recluse, I don't know how I'll ever manage to sell a book!

  19. Your table was perfect for your book.

    Don't worry too much over this. Even top-selling authors deal with this sometimes. Author signings/sellings are notoriously awkward and unreliable.

    You'll find your niche. :)