NC Book Festival 2020, Raleigh, North Carolina
“The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” A quote from “The Mouse” by Robert Burns.
In the fall of 2019, my friend Tammera sent out an email to see who would be interested in joining her at the NC Book Festival 2020 in Raleigh. I’d never heard of it but as an Indie-author I’m always looking for ways to get my name out into the public, so I said yes.
In October, we divided into two groups, Alison Paul Klakowicz author of Mommy’s Big Red Truck https://www.alisonpaulklakowicz.com/ and Tammera Cooper author of The Water Street Chronicles https://www.southernromanceonthepamlico.com/brackish-blogging, and Adrienne Dunning author of several sweet romances https://adriennedunning.com/ and I would have two tables at the festival. I went to the website and posted and reposted anything I saw to help drive traffic to their website and to the festival. Tammera made us lovely banners to put on our social media. We posted, Tweeted, chatted and blogged about it, and still people did not know about it. From October to February there was very little traffic on their website. I saw no advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram except what I or my friends posted but I hoped since they charge so much for a table, that they had at least put out signs and advertised locally.
Then the snow came. We had had a lovely winter with temperatures averaging in the seventies until the week of the festival, then we get twenty-degree weather and snow. I know, you cannot plan for these things. I was hoping that like the hurricane that came when I went to Murfreesboro for a writer’s retreat that everything would turn out just fine. Well, the weather warmed, the snow and ice melted, and everything went off without a hitch…mostly.
Without proper advertising and publicity, people were unaware that we were even there. My friend was on the same block as the book festival and had no idea it was even going on until she returned home and saw my posts on Facebook.
It wasn’t a total waste of time. I had a nice weekend away with my friend although the weather derailed some of our plans. I met some fantastic people at the festival, promoted the upcoming Pamlico Writers’ Conference and made some connections for future interviews on my website but I only sold two books.
It is difficult to balance the cost of the table, hotel, gas and food, not to mention the books and bling we bought to attract people to our tables with the number of books sold.
While I am trying to remain upbeat and positive, I know that I blew my budget on this weekend and have little to show for it. Will I do it again? Not if I’m paying for it. Do I think it’s a waste of time? Not for a group like the Pamlico Writers who wanted to promote their conference but for an individual author, yeah, it wasn’t worth the cost.
I think the NC Book Festival could be a profitable and fun event. It needs to be in a central location instead of spread out to so many different venues, and it needs more marketing behind it. Every writers’ group or organization, publisher and agent in North Carolina should have been contacted as well as all the libraries and bookstores. There should have been signs up around town and especially at the venue alerting people that something cool was happening. I feel like this was a missed opportunity and for an Indie-author with a small budget, this failure hurts the pocketbook and sets me back.
But I did have a good time. As I was setting up my table the man across the way greeted me and we exchanged information about ourselves and our books. Come to find out, we have a friend in common, my mentor, Marni Graff. Thomas A. Burns, jr. author of Stripper, Revenge and Trafficked also deals with the darker side of life, especially sex trafficking. I am presently reading his first book and Tom and I have plans for an interview. It will be interesting to compare notes.
I also met two lovely ladies sitting behind me, a lady who’d written a biography and has ties to Washington, a lovely British woman a former history professor who is now writing young adult time travel adventure novels. The day was filled with lovely people, authors, publishers, poets and even a handsome economist.
While financially I don’t feel as if I can recommend this event, culturally and for the connections, it was a lovely experience.