lessons, new zealand independent book festival, publishing

NZ Indie Book Fest: Part Two – the good and the not so good

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Dinner on the first night. We were ravenous, and it was SO good.

Following on from yesterdays post about the trip to Auckland, I thought I’d take the time to do a little break down of the good and the not so good – and a few lessons we learned along the way.

The not so good:
The venue was large, but out of the way, which meant that there was no foot traffic passing by who might decide to pop in for a gander. It was fairly quiet on the Saturday, and I had hopes that Sunday would be busier – it was QUIETER!! If I am going to attend again, it would need to be in a more central location where more people would come to. I sold more books than I expected to, but I know of quite a few stands who sold virtually nothing 😦

Even if you think you’re prepared, something will go wrong, or not work the way you wanted it to. Despite testing out my banner stand at home and having no hassles with it, come Saturday morning it was a nightmare to get sorted! My dad and step-mother decided to take over the task, but even then they had issues, and the banner fell down later that day.

It was kinda cold. With the front doors open to welcome guests, and our location in the second aisle (which had a door at one end) it was pretty chilly at times, especially on the Sunday. The temperature changed between being warm enough and being cold, and it was a real nuisance lol.

The largest group of visitors to the festival would have to have been made up of those supporting exhibitors they knew, and writers/indie authors coming to either check out what other authorsΒ were doing, or make new business connections with printers etc. While that’s kind of understandable, it meant that there were not that many there to buy books, and my books are not going to appeal to everyone. A lot of eyes simply slid over our booth as they walked past.

The good:
IMG_20151003_113740810There were lots of awesome exhibitors! We made some good friends, and made a lot of great connections. I will talk more specifically about that tomorrow πŸ˜‰ It wasn’t just the exhibitors who were great though, I got to meet a bunch of people I’ve only known online, some I knew might be there and others who were a total surprise! But I loved all of it.

Contrary to my belief that I would be completely shattered after the weekend, I’m feeling pretty upbeat. I’ve learned that not only do my anti-depressants help me cope better with tough situations, they also help me to feel more confident in myself. I was able to talk to people with little to no anxiety, and that was awesome!! Someone even commented that I must be the most extroverted out of our group, and I had to laugh. Very much an introvert, but I do like to talk to people, and I geared myself up to do so that weekend – very grateful it hasn’t resulted in any slump. In fact, I miss hanging with everyone!

I sold more books than I expected to. The number was still fairly small, but I’m really pleased with it. Highlights were a twitter friend coming in to meet me for the first time and buying a copy of each of my books – totally unexpected, but SO awesome! And then on Sunday another twitter came by and grabbed a copy of Sun Touched. I felt so special.

We got heaps of compliments on our stand, from the professional look of our books, banners and promo stuff, to the way we presented ourselves and interacted with attendees. Some people even reckon we had the best looking stand, which was a lovely compliment! It felt good to get such positive feedback, and to have the experience of being at a festival like this under my belt, with close friends alongside me.

We learned a lot. Which leads to….

Things we learned:Β 
People don’t like coming into what can be perceived as personal space. We had our two tables on either side of the booth and it was one hell of a mission getting anyone to come IN. The vast majority of people stood at the front, which meant that not everything was being seen, and we didn’t have space for many people to talk to. The lovely Janine from across the way gave us this feedback on the second day, telling us how she had tweaked her own stand on the second day to make better use of the space. While a table across the front might seem like it puts a block between you and potential buyers, it actually allows them to stay in their space and not ‘invade’ yours, which feels safer – really good to know, and I am keen to test this out! lol

Having promotional material that is not directly related to your book is a really worthwhile investment. Keitha Smith, in the booth next to us, had these gorgeous, non specific book marks, with her book information on the back of them. Appealing to anyone, even if they didn’t buy a book. And Janine, across the way from us, had colouring pages packs, and gorgeous cards and butterflies which really drew the eye and meant there were a range of things to buy that weren’t books.

My first sale of the Book Fest - not only did I sell two books, but I made a new friend!
My first sale of the Book Fest – not only did I sell two books, but I made a new friend!

The vast majority of book sales were to people who already knew about us. 100% of Leigh’s sales were to people she knew online, and I would say about 70% of both mine and Tee’s were as well. Some of these were other exhibitors, but also people who had read digital copies and wanted print ones, or who had come across us online and then come looking in person.

While on some levels this might suggest an online presence really IS important, I’d like to think that it means that building your audience, and being a real person, is. The two twitter friends who came to see me and buy books were both people I think are lovely online (and proved to be just as cool in person!), and I think if I hadn’t been ‘authentic’ with my online presence, that might not have happened. It felt like I was gaining new irl friends, rather than readers.

As well as that, of the two exhibitors who I traded books with, and the one who purchased a copy of my book, I believe it was all down to them liking me as a person – that, combined with an interest in the premise of the book meant an exchange occurred. If they hadn’t met me, and enjoyed interacting with me, I don’t think they would now have my books in their possession.

I think these lessons were valuable, and combined with the ‘good’ things, mean that I feel like the festival was worth the time/money/energy investment I made into it. While I think there are a tonne of things that could have been done differently to make the turn out better for everyone, I’m really pleased I went πŸ™‚

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8 thoughts on “NZ Indie Book Fest: Part Two – the good and the not so good”

  1. It sounds more to me, that the medication is letting you be you. I say this, because the exact same thing (about being more of an extrovert) was told to me shortly after I began taking mine. I’m truly happy for you, Cassie.

    Also, I am not sure how I would handle being an exhibitor, regardless of my given field of the moment. You are fabulous.

    1. Yes! You’re so right, Charlie. It is letting me be me, but, in ways I didn’t really know I was, I guess? lol
      I wasn’t sure how I would go either, but I was surprised at myself, and proud too, of how I managed it πŸ™‚ I don’t think I’d want to do it all the time, but I could enjoy the occasional outing πŸ˜‰

      1. That’s because you never had the opportunity because of the depression.
        Jenny Lawson (the bloggess) often says that Depression lies. And she’s right. It lies to us so thoroughly that we don’t even realize it.
        This is actually a topic that I am going to be writing about soon at the suggestion of Matt after he read my current post.

      2. awesome! I look forward to reading it πŸ™‚ The more well I get, the further back I can see this affected me. Which is a little sad, but mostly I’m just pleased NOT to be in the clutches of depression right now.

      3. I wouldn’t say it’s sad. I would say…it’s liberating. You now have the ability to explore who are.

      4. Yes! And that was one of my goals from the start of the year πŸ™‚ Figuring out which bits are me, and which are just things I was told to be.

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