I’m pretty much new to book festivals, so I wasn’t sure what to expect with the Southeastern Wisconsin Book Festival. But a few writer friends asked me if I wanted to pitch in for a table, I said “sure!” I was glad I did. The conference was held Friday and Saturday, June 17-18th. It was set up in almost a trade show format, with spaces for writers to exhibit, lots of panels and lectures, and author signings.
Sometimes these places aren’t so much about the books you sell but the connections you make. I enjoyed meeting a few new authors, and finding out what they hoped to get out of the conference. Everyone has a different take on things, and you may find out something you didn’t realize before.
Putting a Face With a Name
This was also a good way to get a visual on some of those people who are my Facebook or Twitter friends who I haven’t yet met in person. I enjoyed seeing Barbara Vey (because who doesn’t love her column – and besides I interviewed her and have wanted to meet her ever since) give a talk on social media along with a panel of writers. Barbara’s take was funny, smart, and right on target. Just like her blogs.
Talking About Your Work
We chat a lot about having an “elevator pitch” and this is something that is very helpful when you’re at a book fair. When people come up to your table, you need to give them the key points of your work quickly and in a way that is interesting. Practice a few lines before you go to one of these things. You don’t want to come off “sales-y” but you do want to be able to intelligently talk about your book.
This is where I really dropped the ball. My mind was filled up with one of my writing clients, and I even scheduled a meeting for late in the day on Friday to meet with someone else. It was poor planning on my part, so much so that while I was there thoughts of all the client work I still needed to do filled my head. I felt stressed. I wasn’t relaxed and this prevented me from enjoying the experience as much as I should have. It was all on me, too. The conference was great. My fellow writers were great. I was stressed.
In the future, I’ll do a better job at planning. I’ll work ahead with clients and plan out my marketing pieces. I think it’s important to assess what you do right and wrong after every one of these types of things, and this was one area I needed to improve on.
You Find Out What You Already Know
Since I admire writers and love to learn, sometimes I believe that I don’t know as much as I do. It’s not a self-confidence issue, it’s more like I acknowledge that I don’t know everything. You know? So a conference like this can actually help reaffirm what you do already know. I realized I know a lot about blogging, promotion, and social media… and I want to share what I know.
People buying your books is never a bad thing. One very sweet young girl bought my latest poetry book, New and Selected Poems, and I chatted with her about writing. She already had a good handle on writing poetry, and the number one thing she did was write every day. I suspect I’ll be at one of her book signings one day.