The event was put together by Demi Stevens, the mastermind behind the Year of the Book. As I looked around the Expo Center and took in all that was going on around me, I was once again impressed by all Demi managed to do. Not only was she responsible for bringing many of the books the room to life, she also created an event that was a great day for both vendors and attendees -- one that ran smoothly (at least from my perspective), encouraged conversation and left no detail unattended.
What makes an event like this a great day for an author? Answers vary. When a book is new (and maybe even when it's not), the temptation is to judge the day by book sales, and to go away dejected when those numbers don't rise to the double digits. But at an event like this one, where every table offered something for sale, using those parameters would leave many going away disappointed. Over and over again, I heard the "too many books, not enough money" lament.
And so a smart author puts on her comfortable shoes and abandons her ego, thinking about the non-tangible takeaways that make a day like this one great.
- The opportunity to get the word out about her book. There's a reason we come bearing book marks and promotional materials. Maybe you don't need another book to read on that particular day, but if I get the chance to talk with you about my book and you like how it sounds, maybe when you're looking for your next read, you'll pull out that swag and order my book.
- The opportunity to debut the cover of her next book. The ever-amazing Laurie J. Edwards created a beautiful cover for Chasing a Second Chance, the sequel to Casting the First Stone. Stop by this blog on Wednesday to check it out.
- The opportunity to talk to other authors. Writers are some of my favorite people. I shared a table with fellow Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author Michele McKnight Baker and was beside the prolific Cate Masters, who got me involved with The Susquehanna Writers blog. I got a hug (or two) from fellow Pennwriter Bobbi Carducci and reunited with former Central York colleague-turned-author Donna Ferguson who was around the corner from my friend Judy Wolfman, who's largely responsible for my pursuit of writing happiness. Although I got to meet Carolyn Astfalk (thanks to a well-timed social media post by mutual friend Barb Szyszkiewicz), I did not get to chat with Gloria Bostic, Don Helin or Susan Kelley. Too many authors, not enough time.
- The opportunity to have some wonderful conversations, and a few reunions. My goal at any book event is simply to smile and say hello to everyone who makes eye contact with me. That's it. No hard sell. I'd much rather engage in conversation with you and have you walk away empty-handed than miss out on the chance to talk with you. Throughout the day, I connected with former colleagues I hadn't seen in ages, some of my college students who were there to help with the kids' play area, friends from the area and complete strangers. The most rewarding connection was with a friend whose son is my daughter's age -- one who has long wanted to write, and who walked away from this conference inspired to do so. Now that's exciting.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a Starbucks gift card to give away to one of the lovely folks who not only stopped to talk to me, but who also signed up for my newsletter. Staying in touch, after all, is one of the best parts of a conference of any kind.
Thanks, Demi, for an amazing job and a wonderful afternoon.