That didn't go well.
It was embarrassing, really. Mother Stewart's Brewing Co., which is usually hopping on Saturday afternoons, had maybe half their usual crowd and only a small fraction of that ventured into the brewing room to check out the book fair. Most people with whom I spoke expressed surprise: "I had no idea this was going on!"
How utterly discouraging. Through the diligence of my publicist, Personalize Marketing Inc., we posted blogs to promote the individual authors as well as the event as a whole. Tweets and Facebook posts went out regularly--frequently. I cannot fault her efforts at all: as always, she went above and beyond the call of duty to try to make this endeavor a success. Participating authors were urged to spread the word throughout their social networks ... and some did. I had fliers printed up and handed them out. I gave more fliers to the brewery three weeks and then one week in advance to distribute to their customers. I gave fliers to other vendors to distribute to their customers.
All for naught, it seems like.
My publicist and her manager even came to the event, one from Illinois and the other from New Jersey. I feel as though they wasted their time, fuel, and money.
How utterly disappointing. Most of the authors left early. I couldn't blame them.
One author complained of insufficient marketing. Apparently, he expected signage throughout the city promoting the event. Since author fees were only $30 to participate--a rate affordable for indie authors who usually see less than $1,000 in royalties per year--that doesn't leave much for marketing. I certainly don't make a profit from this.
I even ushered people to check out the other authors: "I don't have horror/mystery/true crime/biography/etc., but we have authors here who do. I'm sure you'll find something that piques your interest!" Did anyone else refer potential customers to other authors?
So, what did we have going against us besides an apparent lack of market penetration and public interest? We had:
I'm not happy. I asked the other 20 participating authors for their feedback and asked for suggestions to help improve future events. Four responded. My suggestion to reduce the frequency of the events from two to one per year met with expressed preferences to remain at two per year. Three of those who responded suggested different months, with spring and autumn being preferred to winter and summer. (Granted, weather in February in southwest Ohio is predictably nasty.) I received no other suggestions: they liked the venue, complimented me on it being well-organized, and were generally supportive.
So ... what shall we do? I'm going to have to contact Mother Stewart's to see what they've got scheduled in April or May, making sure to avoid Easter, Mother's Day, graduations, proms, and Memorial Day. OK, we can't avoid all the graduation and proms. At least Springfield's Winter Market will end in early April, so perhaps we can snag a Saturday rather than a Sunday. (Saturdays do tend to be busier.) And I'll inquire about late September, October, and early November. We want to piggyback on the gift-giving seasons when brewery patronage is good, too. After all, Mother Stewart's does this in the hope that the book fair will draw extra customers for them, too.
Yes, I'm belly-aching on a bucket of sour grapes. I'll continue to whine, because I don't get over large disappointments like this so easily.
Eventually, yes, I will get over this--probably about the time I start planning the next event.
If you've been to a wonderful author/book expo, what went right? What went wrong? Share your experiences, because I need to learn from them. My own experiences organizing and attending these events isn't encouraging.
In the meantime, I've got paid work to do and stories to write. Catch ya later.