I first attended the Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Expo, held in Urbancrest, Ohio, last year. It was well-organized and boasted a registration of around 40 authors, some of whom did not bother to show up. This year's event boasted the same registration numbers with full author attendance. That was a plus.
Last year, attendance of the public variety could best be described as a light trickle. This year's attendance was better, going from a light trickle to a regular trickle. I actually sold more books at last year's event.
My metrics for this type of event are simple: 1) Are there empty author tables? 2) How many potential buyers come through the doors? 3) How many books did I sell?
The most I've sold at any event is five books. Sales alone do not make for a successful event. None have yet to recoup my cost for travel, time, food, and even overnight accommodations. The best attended event has been the Springfield Book Fair. The event held last August got a good crowd roaming through, courtesy of our location, Mother Stewart's Brewing Company. The February book fair (renamed, aptly, the Winter Book Fair) had only light attendance, but most of the authors still sold a book or two. I'm hoping to recreate the magic at the Summer Book Fair next weekend with great attendance and even better book sales.
The worst events result in no books sold, making the excursion a complete waste of my time. I've been to several that suffered from extremely poor attendance. I try to look at those disappointments as learning experiences. I don't always succeed. Such events reinforce my assertion that the best ones are held where the people are. Book signing events don't draw crowds, unless you're a BIG NAME author like Tom Clancy or Nora Roberts. But we can add to the crowds of people already going to some destination.
That's what we should build upon: Go where the people are.
So, I gave the Mid-Ohio Indie Author Book Expo a second try. I don't think I'll give it a third.