This was my first show. Or, at least, the first show I actually physically went to as a vendor. I co-ran my spouse's table at a few shows, and Evin's publisher took copies of my book with them to Indies in Indy last month (and will have copies at another show in October--more details on that when I have them), but I've never manned a table for my own work. Until yesterday.
My table. Little, but so pretty.
Getting to go to an author event for the first time as an author rather than a reader was an exciting thing. Meeting potential readers face-to-face is invigorating. I wouldn't call myself a great salesperson, but I do feel like I do a little better pitching my work in person than the blurbs on websites do. I had a few chances to talk up my book, and the response I got to these pitches were positive.
And I got to meet other local authors. This is great firstly because writing can sometimes feel deeply lonely. The reminder that there are other people that share some of my experiences helps keep me grounded. It makes me feel less alone in the world while I work--not just on the writing itself, but also on developing a platform and trying to get my work out there. The second benefit of meeting other authors is getting to pick their brains for resources. I got the names of a few new publishers and agents and guilds and writing groups that I'm going to check out. I might have come across these resources on my own--I spend a pretty substantial amount of time researching the publishing industry--but this saves me a little time and gives me a baseline expectation for groups before I go in.
There are a lot of benefits to shows like this, but the drawbacks are worth noting.
This particular event didn't have fantastic attendance. There were plenty of authors, but there our tables didn't get much in the way of foot traffic. Some of this is the result of the event being relatively new. It takes a while for an event to build an audience. I didn't participate in the event last year, but, from what some of the other authors told me, there had been a few improvements in the way the event was run between last year and this year. The addition of author panels was one of the positive steps made, and the advertising was somewhat improved. That's promising, and enough to encourage me to come back, but some of the folks that showed up the first two years might have less patience.
The relatively low attendance also meant that several authors didn't sell anything. I did relatively well--better than some of my neighbors--but I didn't make back what I spent on the table, the books, and the other odds and ends I picked up for my table. I expected this. I knew about how well most author attendees did last year, so I expected to lose out. I imagine some of the others did, too, but it does sting to not sell much--or at all.
If I view the event from a money-making standpoint, I couldn't really call it a success. But, if I view it as a way to get some facetime with readers, to get my name out, to network with other authors, it was one of the best bits of marketing I've done.