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November 01, 2017

So, I Tried a Thing...



So, I tried a thing that didn't turn out as planned.

During the summer, I set up a talk at a local library. I wanted the practice because, back in January, I was asked to be the speaking author for a local chapter of writers who get together for an annual book and author luncheon. Everything I've done this year has been gearing me up for that, but I wanted to do a real in-person discussion and reading before that luncheon. That's where my local library came in. I promoted it as much as I could through social media and other authors in my area were kind enough to share the information. 

The big day came.

I set up my stuff.

And only one person came, fellow IWSGer, M.J. Fifield.

I am not a public speaker. I didn't want to forget anything, so I had my speech on paper. MJ let me practice reading my speech to her and gave me a pointer: to try to memorize my speech so next time I can use my printed speech as more of a guide. I'll do that next time, MJ. Or, at least, I'll try. lol

I had a feeling only my mom and MJ would be there. MY TRUE FANS! Yay! I was bummed that the other people I knew locally didn't come and that the library didn't do what I'd seen them do for other authors, but that happens. Even if something doesn't turn out, we learn from it.

At least I know the luncheon in January guarantees people will be there. Score!

I am doing something next month, though, a local book signing on November 18th with 49 other authors, one of which will be MJ! So far, I haven't had luck selling books at an event, but that has to change eventually, right? RIGHT?! 

(I didn't admit to this before, but that big event I did in June, it resulted in one book sale thanks to MJ buying a copy of Tsunami Crimes. In return, I bought Effigy from her. It was great for other reasons, though. I got a bunch of new subscribers, handed out stacks of postcards, and networked.)

So other than my "failure" at selling books at events, I just realized this post is also about MJ. She'll hate me for this but...three cheers for MJ!!!

HIP-HIP- HOORAY!

HIP-HIP-HOORAY!!

HIP-HIP-HOORAY!!!

THANK YOU, MJ!


QUESTION: Have you done an event that was a bust?


88 comments:

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I've done over 350 book signings and talks (not counting my official speaking gigs) and yes, I've had quite a few busts. Every event leads to a new opportunity though, one way or another, so it's not a waste.

Yes, you have to memorize what you are going to say. You can't read. I have all of my speaking topics heavily outlined, but it's to keep me on track. Then I can glance at my notes and know exactly what I need to say without reading. Just keep practicing.

Julie Flanders said...

Yes! I've had more than once "bust" and they totally suck but I think you have the right attitude. We still learn something and it's all experience. You will totally rock the January event!! I'm not a public speaker either and was terrified the first time I did an author event where I had to speak but now I actually kind of enjoy it. Proof that miracles happen LOL.
It's great you and MJ can do these events together. I'd love to hang out with you guys! :D

Heather M. Gardner said...

I think you ROCK no matter what AND MJ ROCKS, TOO!!!!

Congrats on the news from your newsletter about signing a new contract! That is GREAT news!!

Thank you for all the hard work you do helping all of us!
Heather

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey, at least MJ came. And she gave you a valuable tip. That's still a win.

Nicola said...

It is disappointing when people don't turn up to events you put so much work into. That happened to me in a former life (nothing to do with writing) - 100 guests invited and catered for and only 4 turned up. What can I say... we didn't need to eat for another week :) It's nothing personal and thank God for your two biggest fans! Keep going Chrys.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Chrys ... you do so much - this is your next step - I'm sure come January you'll enjoy the experience and you'll settle in ... good for MJ to be there to support you ... Also you learn so much through each experience ... relax and enjoy - cheers Hilary

Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor said...

I'm so sorry your event didn't work out as you hoped. But it was so great that MJ came out to support you. She definitely deserves all of those "hip, hip, hoorays" :-)

Christine Rains said...

Sorry to hear there weren't as many people as you hoped, but at least you got to practice. I've never done an event like that, and I think anyone that does is immensely brave. I love reading about you trying all these things. You're a great inspiration!

Pat Hatt said...

Always a learning experience indeed, and one person beats none. I always hated memorizing speeches and stuff, ugg.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Chrys, its sad that people didn't turn up, but that happens to many of us writers. We just have to brush off such incidents and take it as a part of our learning.

Lidy said...

Regardless to how many people did or didn't show up, the fact that you did the event is a plus. I've yet to make my way up to doing such a thing. And most likely I'll have to strong arm myself to do it. Last time I stood in front of anyone was when I was a teen and my aunt forced me to sing up stage at her church with the other children. And next thing I know, I fainted and ended up with a microphone imprint on my cheek.

nashvillecats2 said...

I hope your January experience will be good for you.
Good luck.

Have a wonderfyl Novemeber.
Yvonne.

Jennifer Hawes said...

I think that is our worst fear, having a book signing or whatever and no one showing up. I did one here locally and thankfully we have tons of tourists that showed up, plus a few loyal locals that knew me. School visits are great, because you will have an audience! Better luck next time!!

M.J. Fifield said...

I am crawling under my desk as we speak... :)

I already told you about my "bust" event, and at the June book fair, I bought waaaaaaay more books than I sold, which I imagine will be the case come November 18th, too. We'll have to do a rain dance or something of some kind to drive in more people. You have a great product, IMHO. People will come. <3

Carrie-Anne said...

Sorry to hear your event wasn't the success you would've preferred. I tried to hold a few contests on my blog in the past, but there was zero or almost no response. If I try to have a contest again, I'll have to beg other people to help me with promotion or co-hosting.

Chrys Fey said...

You're a public speaking pro, though. lol How did you do in the beginning is what I want to know. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I'll do my best to memorize my speech and use it as a guide. I think once I get going I'm not nervous anymore. It's the days and moments leading up to it that are the worst.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Heather! I'll be sharing more details about that book soon. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Yup. A nice win. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Oh no! And it was catered? Jeez. I would've been mad.

Chrys Fey said...

I am exciting and nervous for the luncheon in January, but I know it'll be good for me. :)

Chrys Fey said...

She sure does. :)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks, Christine. I'll keep sharing my author adventures. The good and the bad. lol

Chrys Fey said...

One person is a lot better than no one. That's for sure!

Chrys Fey said...

Yes, we do. It happens. I guess I had to experience it first thing.

Chrys Fey said...

I was so nervous, but I went. I showed up. :D That is something to remember and give myself a pat on the back for.

Oh my goodness. You fainted? That would be bad, indeed.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you! Happy November!

Chrys Fey said...

That's great that you had a good turn out. I think it was partly the local and the fact that the library didn't really promote the event. I will try again in the future. :)

Chrys Fey said...

LOL!!!

I bought a ton of books and only sold one. To you. HAHAHA!!!! But at least I won't have to be any for November 18th. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

If you ever do a contest, let me know and I can help spread the word. :)

Lidy said...

Yup. When I have to stand in front of people my skin feels hot and as is a thousand needles prickling all over my arms, chest and neck. It got a bit better at college even when I had to do presentations. But I think it was only because they were only 5-10 minutes long (and I'd try to shorten it). Plus would take a shot of liquid courage before I came in to class the day of the presentation. Don't know what'll happen now and it's not an understatement I'd probably dread finding out.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Yeh for MJ and for the support of fellow IWSG-ers! And good for you, Chrys, for your positive attitude. Good luck with all your upcoming events. :)

Juneta key said...

Nope and the thought terrifies me. Cheering you on.
Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

Chrys Fey said...

And I thought I got anxiety bad. Wow. I can fully understand your hesitation, but maybe it won't be so bad now. Maybe? lol

Chrys Fey said...

It pays to have a positive attitude. :) Thanks, Madeline!

Chrys Fey said...

Terrifies me, too. haha Thanks, Juneta!

Liz A. said...

Sorry the event was a bust. At least the experience helped. Good luck next time.

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks!

EliasM said...

Excuse the profane allusion but you're professional AF. I'd still be cussing (slur-cussing?) through a DEW-fueled crying jag. Jokes (I wish) aside, thanks for sharing this experience, Sis.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I'm almost too scared of the public speaking and marketing to try to get published. So you're way ahead of me. And sounds like you did make connections at the June event. Good luck at the book signing and luncheon.

Arlee Bird said...

I've never done a book event, but I promoted a concert once that was pretty much a bust. I had something like 400 people in attendance, but I also lost a ton of money because I didn't get more like 4000 people there. Live and learn.

Excellent information on the video. You did an excellent job. Keep doing those events and things will click eventually.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Sarah Foster said...

Hooray for MJ! At least you got to practice and got some advice! I'm sure the January event will be much better. I think I'd be terrified if there was one person in the audience or 100.

Meka James said...

Yay for MJ! You are brave for attempting to do the public speaking thing. I am TERRIFIED to speak in public. Bummer you didn't have much of a turn out, but it's good that MJ went out to support you. Good luck at your upcoming luncheon and the book signing event. Something else I doubt I'll ever tackle.

Chrys Fey said...

I don't feel so brave. lol But I suppose I am. :) I never say myself doing things like this, Well, unless I was signed bu a big publisher and forced to do a tour across the country. lol

Chrys Fey said...

LOL!!! That made me laugh. I'll keep sharing my experiences. No matter what. :)

Chrys Fey said...

There was a lot of benefits to the event I did in June. But if I don't sell books there next June, I may not do it again. We'll see.

Thanks!

Chrys Fey said...

Live and learn, indeed.

I'm glad you liked the video. :)

I will keep doing what I can.

Chrys Fey said...

Practicing was good. I was even nervous in the beginning of my speech even with just MJ and my mom there. lol

emaginette said...

Well now that you've done the small crowd the big one will be easy-peasy. Good luck, but mostly have fun.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Raimey Gallant said...

From what I hear, this is typical of author events. Even for relatively big ones; sometimes they'll only get a few people who attend. This 50-author event sounds like a great idea, and I'm crossing my fingers for you. :) http://www.raimeygallant.com

Lisa Thomson said...

Hi Chrys, well it takes courage to be an author at an event. One store had me come in and be available for Q&A and signing. I only sold one book there. So, ya a total bust. I also bought half a table at a woman’s show and sold about 30 books in two days. Still the cost to be there wasn’t succeeded with sales revenue. Bottom line, it’s tough to make money as an author. Hooray for M.J.!

Denise Covey said...

Hi Chrys. Lovely that friends are our biggest fans. Glad you see it as a positive experience. Nothing ventured and all that ...

Cynthia said...

Chrys, Indeed, hooray for MJ! And also hooray for you too! In no way does the number of who showed up to your talk reflect on your skills, talent or who you are as a person. Good luck planning for your next public appearance.

Anonymous said...

Well, that's not cool. Don't folks in town know that those books they come to the library to check out are written by authors??? Geesh. Glad your friend came by, though. Moral support is the bestest!

Chrys Fey said...

A small crowd of two. lol I think the bigger card will be very different. :P

Chrys Fey said...

I hope the signing later this month will bring me some sales. My fingers are also crossed.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Excellent tips!

Real life events can be hit and miss. I've sold out and I've entertained crickets.

Chrys Fey said...

I’ve heard that selling 1 book can be expected for most of us. It sure is tough making money as an author.

Chrys Fey said...

Nothing gained. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

Thanks for the kind words, Cynthia!

Chrys Fey said...

I surely thought people I knew locally and those in the library at the time would stop in. Oh well.

Chrys Fey said...

I’m looking forward to the time when I sell out. :D

Chemist Ken said...

I gave a 90 minute talk on story structure at a local library. About fifteen people showed up, which was pretty good for someone who hasn't published anything yet. It would have been nice if I'd had a book to promote at the time.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Now I don't have books to sell. I enjoyed your Crimes books, by the way. But yes, every time I'm asked to give a presentation at a local library on writing, I get extremely nervous that no one will show up. So far, I've had maybe 5 people show up. You know, when I was starting out, if I found out there was going to be a free writing workshop or presentation, I'd have gone. It seems today, no one wants to leave their computer or social media to actually meet real people--even if the event is free to them.

I'm sorry I don't live in Florida. I wish you all the luck with your presentations. As it is now, my Mom is too feeble to be present for any events I have, although she had always been there for me before. You rock, Chrys!

Anonymous said...

If I lived closer, I would have come!

Since I do craft shows, I can say I've done events that haven't resulted in book sales. I sell my crafts, but the books are way harder to sell. Recently, I had a show where I didn't even make my spot back. It was disappointing. Especially since the year before I sold over $100 worth of crafts at the same venue.

Diane Burton said...

Chrys, a good friend said that if you sell one book at a signing it's a success. I've done quite a few signings and book events this fall and I've yet to make gas money. Very frustrating. Food will always bring people in. LOL Maybe they'll even buy your books. At least, you're getting your name out there.

sage said...

I have given more than a few talks and lectures to groups that could be counted on one hand... Hang in there. Or come to Savannah (we actually have a good book culture here) and I'll drive into town and support you!

Cathrina Constantine said...

I had 2 book signings at local book stores. If it wasn't for my supportive family, there would've been no one there....Disappointing...

Chrys Fey said...

15 people is awesome. More than I hoped for.

Chrys Fey said...

5 people was what I had hoped for at my library event for my first time. I think you’re right that many people don’t want to leave home.

Chrys Fey said...

Sadly, books are harder to sell. I even noticed that my books at my yard sale didn’t sell this summer. I’ll be doing another sale next weekend and all of the books I don’t want will be 25cents.

Chrys Fey said...

Then one book is my goal every time. ;)

Chrys Fey said...

I wish I could come to Savannah. I can’t really travel that far.

Chrys Fey said...

My sisters in the same city as the library didn’t even come for my signing. LOL!

Patsy said...

I recently took part in an event which didn't get much response - I think the entire audience was made up of the other participants. As you say, I did learn from it, so don't feel my time was wasted.

Crystal Collier said...

LOL! You're right. You can't succeed if you don't try. I haven't done many live events yet, because it's almost impossible to get out as an author rather than a mom. One day. (Or so I keep saying.) I think Florida is a harder state to sell in because there are so many other distractions around. (Beaches, theme parks, performances, beaches...) As an example, the SCWBI presence here is pretty pitiful, or at least it was last time I joined up. Truth though, you keep trying and you'll eventually find the thing that works, right?

Chrys Fey said...

You never know...a participant could become your reader, right? :)

Chrys Fey said...

So are you saying I need to move? lol I’ve thought about it and would like to, but not for selling books. Mostly to try to find cooler weather. lol

Magic Love Crow said...

You don't fail, unless you don't try! You are trying, so you are not failing! Keep going Chrys!!! I know you'll do it! Big Hugs!

Lux G. said...

Hooray for MJ! And for you! Keep going and inspiring people.

Toi Thomas said...

I've done events that were a bust and I've done ones that were a huge sucess. I recently did an event that was good for me, but not any of the other authors who participated. It was not a well publicized event. Only after I set up a Facebook event for it did the venue do the same (because I was smart enough to tag them in it). None of the other authors promoted it, except for one, but then he left early. The few people who came to see the authors were there pretty much to learn about me. I spoke to every person who came in, even if they weren't there for the author event, and I was the only one to sell something. It was a long and scary day. I actualy brought a stuff animal with me for comfort and it turned out to be a great conversation starter. I'm at the point where I refuse to let a live event be a bust. Even if I don't sell something, I always get email sign-ups and talk with people, even though sometimes the people scare me. ;)

Murees Dupè said...

M.J. is cool. I'm glad she could be there for you. That the two of you could support each other. Both of you are wonderful ladies. I'm sorry the event didn't go as planned. But don't let it get you down. You are amazing. Exactly, keep selling and keep writing and being who you are. Hugs.

Barbara said...

You have to try to fail so well done you. I’m usually too scared to try anything – now that really is a failing.

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you for the pep talk!

Chrys Fey said...

Thank you, Lux!

Chrys Fey said...

The event I’m doing on the 18th is one that’s not very publicized, so I hope it turns out okay for me.

Chrys Fey said...

It was shocking to find out she lived so close to me. I never think my blogging friends could be so close.

Chrys Fey said...

I can’t help but to try. We all should try. :)