Last Saturday I attended the 2013 Bloomington Writers Festival and Book Fair along with fellow Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers Group members: Terry Faust, Michael Merriam, Jason D Wittman and Joel Arnold.
We attended the writers festival last year, and we learned that this is not a large event, nor an awesome event for sales of spec fic. “Low maintenance, Low payoff,” is how I reported it to the other MNSpec group organizers. We decided to get a table anyway, and use this event as a practice for developing our marketing/promotional clout for larger events coming this summer.
- 408 – Registered MNSpec members
- 22 – MNSpec members who RSVPed for the writers festival
- 8 – MNSpec members who actually attended the writers festival, (which includes the 5 members who took turns working the table)
- 3 – Number of books sold
- 1 – Number of MNSpec member facebook/g+/blog posts for this event
That one MNspec member’s promotion for the event? I wrote it. Really thought there would be more promotion than that, but I couldn’t find anything. Please link up any posts that I missed in the comments below.
You Get What You Give
Our book sales were the same as the previous year… you know, back when we didn’t push the promotion quite as hard. LOL. Some might consider the sales numbers a failure, but there’s more to festivals than sales. For example, the Bloomington Writers Festival isn’t too bad for networking and promotion. If you have something free to hand out, you’d better bring lots of it. While working the MNSpec table, I gave away many of the writers group info bookmarks that Terry Faust made for us, as well as a lot of my own business cards. Jason D Wittman could hardly keep the table stocked with his very, very, very small (and free) books.
As I wandered through the author and vendor tables, I paid close attention to what tricks authors used to draw attention and what giveaway/bribes they resorted to. Some authors sat at their table playing with their phones while their books gathered dust. Other authors engaged the crowd, making eye contact and drawing people in. They very passionately explained why you would really enjoy their 700-page, unspellchecked, unproofread memoir. I met and talked with many cool and talented Minnesota artists. A special shout out to the following folks for being super-awesome:
- Kristen K Brown – Queen of Stress Relief, and astonishingly positive author of The Happy Hour Effect: 12 Secrets to Minimize Stress and Maximize Life (Affiliate Link – Thanks for your support!)
- Dari McDonald – of Bookmen Media Group, providing Publicity, Promotion, Production and other Publishing needs
- Aimee Kuzenski– Local fiction author whose debut novel “Prisoner of War” will be released soon, and who apparently beats on things with eskrima sticks, so hater-critics beware!
- Lisa Olson – Graphic Designer from Fat Cat Art Studio
- Sybil Smith and Sherry Roberts from the Midwest Independent Publishers Association
I loaded up on free things myself, and came home with a slew of business cards, fliers and adverts. Then I sifted through them all and did some virtual stalking. The results were interesting. Imagine authors without their own website… Imagine social media “experts” without a presence on google plus… Imagine thanking people via email and having the email bounce back undeliverable!
All in all I had fun, and met lots of cool local artists. Business cards and handshakes are not my weapons of choice, but I made over a dozen new contacts through the event, and I didn’t get them by sitting in the corner playing with my phone. “Low Maintenance, Low Payoff” is quite different than “No Maintenance, No Payoff.”