First off, I want to thank The Book Burrow for inviting me. As an indie author it meant a lot to be included and gain some exposure via the thousands of people that came out to the festival.
Things that were AMAZING! :
- The Book Burrow support – when things were so hectic taking a break seemed impossible, Kelsey the owner, made sure we took breaks. I can’t thank her enough for that.
- Talking with everyone about my books whether they bought them or not; amazing!
- Talking with the public about our local bookstore was great! Lots of people had no idea Pflugerville had a bookstore and it was wonderful to tell folks about it.
- Watching folks light up when they found something they wanted or got a free bookmark with a book purchase.
- Checking out the other vendors/bookstores at the festival!
- Took the day after the event off. (OMG – this was the best idea, and I’m glad I did it.)
Things I could have done better:
- Preparing for a lot of standing in one place. WHEW – not going to lie, that was the biggest gotcha of the weekend. I was running on adrenaline most of the time. I had to remind myself to stop and eat something, take a lunch break, drink water, etc.
- The book stands I bought worked at home, but not in the field. Live and learn. Will have better ones next time.
- Bring more business cards that you think you need. I should have doubled my order.
- Prompt more folks to take pictures of my one-pager. Or figure out how to direct folks to my website for the books, maybe with QR codes? (I’ll have to experiment with it.)
Tips for events next time:
- For indie authors, first-in-series sell well and so do completed series.
- Folks are definitely looking for overarching themes with books when in-person give them quick prompts: contemporary, romantasy, vampires, dragons, etc. ( I don’t know how often I used bisexual polyamory vampires and sold a book, but it seemed a pretty consistent phrase that enticed people.)
- If you are grouped with other authors, know what they are promoting too! Help each other out. A missed sale for you could be one for another author.
- Keep the pain relievers handy! (Helped when I started to get weird muscle cramps)
- If you’re doing regular events where you are the seller, anticipate standing a lot. (I would have been more vigilant about my balance board practice prior to the event. It might have helped. Walking regularly can help, but I routinely walked a lot. Walking won’t prepare you for standing in one place on a slight incline. ie: paved road.)
- if you’re a featured author with an event, make sure of what the promoter is asking you to do. (I heard some pretty wild stories this past weekend about authors having to hoof it from one event to the next, whether it was speaking on a panel or book signings.)
- Stay flexible, in mind, in heart, in body. AND take the next day off if possible. Or put a rest day between events.
The strange, weird, and notable:
On the first day, my author friend- Sam Bolanos, and I experienced some weird looks from folks for whatever reason. There was one instance where a well dressed white woman with silver hair came to our table and asked to borrow our pen, then took off with it, like it was a prank(maybe?). It was seriously odd.
Being two queer authors that write queer books, some folks were clearly turned off by our work, but thankfully none of the looks turned into confrontations.
There were different vibes between Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was very energetic and it was hard not to be swept up in the the rush of people and everyone wanting to talk about books. Sunday was more subdued for two reasons – the rain, and the Free Palestine protest.
I had mixed feelings about selling books while there was an active protest happening a few blocks away. One of our number did go to the protest for a few hours, which was great. My mixed feelings were these – I wanted the protest to have the focus it needed, and it felt weird selling books while it was happening. That feeling clashed with the need to promote my books and be part of the event I signed up to participate in.
It wasn’t the first time I’ve had this conflict of emotions. Similar things are happening in the social media spaces. If you’re someone in this emotional conflict too, know that you’re not alone, and there are other ways to help, like making phone calls, signing petitions, donating money, etc.
It was very disturbing as the day wrapped up to see armed officers moving into the area around six pm local time. Some were patrolling the governor’s mansion with high powered weapons. Having attended other protests for women’s rights and immigration, the one thing I noticed was more of a willingness for escalation by law enforcement. (Why else would you bring in 20-25 officers right as the festival was ending? Other than the barriers for traffic control, the book festival had very little police presence.)
My hope, or at least I would like to think that maybe the book festival was enough of a presence to keep law enforcement from escalating. I won’t ever know if that was the case. But this article implies that it might have been: Texans rally to support Palestine
Overall, my experience at The Texas Book Festival was really positive. I hope everyone I met this weekend enjoys their stickers and books and I look forward to attending another event soon!