Wednesday, October 2

Bactine for Book Events / IWSG


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.


IWSG BOOK CLUB



The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is our October/November fiction book, voted on by our members.

Discussion Fun Day will be November 20th.





***

A couple of years ago I went to my first ever book event/signing as a featured author. The first day was for workshops. I remember roaming around, seeing the people in attendance and noting how many of them knew each other and were greeting each like long-lost friends. I smiled at them, wanting to introduce myself, but not many made eye contact with me. If they did, they shifted away. I felt like a leper.

The New Kid on the Block

The next day, during the signing, although I did meet an author I knew online (yay!), I felt like an outcast.

While I went around, going from table to table to introduce myself and exchange business cards, I got blank stares in return. At one point, when I was introducing myself to one author, a group of three others came up to her, and the four them squealed and showed excitement at seeing each other again. I was literally pushed aside.

Another person came up then, a reader, with two canvases that she was getting the authors to sign. (They were pretty full already.) She asked the author I had been attempting to talk to, to sign a canvas. Then she asked another author among the group to do the same. I expected her to ask me (I was wearing the red “featured author" lanyard), but she took back the canvases and left. I went back to my table and noticed her approach all the other tables around me, but she didn’t approach mine. I know that it can be easy to skip a table on accident, but I couldn’t help but feel the sting of rejection.

That year, I didn't sell a single book. Okay, well, I sold one book to a friend. :)


Round Two

I went home from that two-day event not wanting to attend another book event again as an author. I was being dramatic, of course, because I signed up to attend the next year because the event itself is a great one.

But last year during the workshops, although I was a bit more known among the group, I once again felt like an outcast. I did greet a few authors I’d come to know, but aside from that, when they were busy with others, I stood there, wondering what to do. There were groups of authors everywhere, circled around each other; no way to join them without feeling like and looking like an intruder. 

My mom was a featured author along with me, and I whispered to her, “It’s just like last year when I was ignored.”

I worried that the signing would be the same, only for it to be the exact opposite. Many people, authors and readers, approached me, knew my name, my series, even my YouTube videos! I was SHOCKED. And I sold several books.


Bactine for Book Events:


1. Learn from It

An event may not go the way you expect it to, but it’s important to learn from every experience—good, bad, ugly, or average.

Although I felt rejected and didn’t sell the first year, I looked around and took mental notes of what other authors did and what readers seemed attracted to, such as big banners, so I got one. I also did more promoting in the Facebook groups set up for this event. On top of that, I offered a deal on my books if someone bought more than one, which cut the event price of the second purchase (which was already discounted a lot) in half. The effort I put in to change the outcome for Round Two worked.

Look around.

Take notes.

Promote a little bit more.

Make an effort to get to known those who will be in attendance beforehand.

Implement new strategies.


2. You're Not Alone

Many other authors in the same event, possibly even in the same moment, will be feeling like an outcast, too. You may not see them or notice, but they are there. 


3. Don’t Give Up

I could’ve let these things get me down, but I refused to. I went back last year, this year, and I will be going back next year. I just don’t attend the workshops, to avoid that insecure feeling I had two years in a row.


4. It’s Okay

Remember that not all book events will be the same. You can sell a lot at one, nothing at another, and just one at yet another one. Not even a book event you go to repeatedly will be the same for you every time. This is normal.

Roll with the punches.

Stay in the game.

All exposure helps.


5. Reward Yourself

After an event, find time to relax, to take it all in. You need time to rest and rejuvenate, especially if it doesn’t go the way you expect it to. Pour yourself a drink, eat a chocolate bar or a big bowl of ice cream, watch your favorite movie, take a nap.

Then start planning for the next one.


QUESTION: Have you ever felt like an outcast at an author event? Or during another time?

P.S. Later this month I’ll be sharing a post about another experience I had at a book event.


74 comments:

  1. I once attended an author signing at an odd venue, shared a table with four other authors... and not a soul stopped at our table. It was awful, but it was awful for all of us, which led to a sort of writer bonding.

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  2. I think we all go through an event like that, sometimes even more. I learned from the beginning to be assertive and approach people, talking to them and giving them a bookmark. (And if they seem interested, hand them a book and then run! LOL)

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    1. It wasn't really about the readers there. I'm okay with that part. It was the other authors...

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  3. I’m not published yet so haven’t had the experience. But it’s super helpful to know what could happen and how to handle it.

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    1. A heads up is always good. This was my first event and had no idea it could be like that. (Although I knew I likely wouldn't sell.)

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  4. Of course you will attend next year Chrys you're a dedicated and talented author.
    Hope all is well. Enjoy your day.

    Yvonne.

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  5. The bigger conferences/workshops I went to - as an attendee, not as a speaker or anything - tended to feel more welcoming. One of the smaller groups I went to felt so clique-y. I made myself go a number of times, just to make sure it wasn't a one-off or my issue, but nope.

    I definitely agree about learning from the experience. And rewarding ourselves. :)

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    1. The conference I went to this year where I was a speaker was very welcoming. I'd been to a couple of smaller book signings with a few members of that group beforehand where some of them seemed to just stare at me wide-eyed and clueless when I'd introduce myself, but at the conference it was very warm and inviting. Weird because the same people put on that conference as the other smaller events.

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  6. I've never been to an author event. Given my introverted nature, I'd probably be at the sidelines too wondering why no one was speaking to me. I admire your perseverance and how you learned from the first one and made the second one a success.

    Cheers - Ellen

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    1. I tried not to be on the sidelines, but couldn't find anyway to be included, either. I've definitely learned, though. The atmosphere during workshops the authors attend just isn't right for me.

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  7. I've never been to an author event. I would be most comfortable, I think, if I went with another author friend. I'm such a recluse...

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    1. I always uncomfortable at first. And maybe a few times during.

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  8. It is so hard to be the newbie! Good for you in coming back. Those other authors could have been more welcoming. I'm sure I'm guilty of sticking with my own group and not opening up to others, but I hope that I'd say hi and not push them aside.
    Happy IWSG Day!
    Mary at Play off the Page

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    1. I was rather shocked that they didn't seem to care or want to welcome someone they didn't know, who was attending the same inaugural event (it was the first year for this event to take place).

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  9. i felt the same way trying to break into the photography network. i also attended the romance convention some time ago in vegas and was overwhelmed as a visitor. my main goal was heather graham, but mr wonderful hit all the tables. love that man. he got me tons of swag. one of the authors i overlooked was lisa renee jones and i see her name everywhere on the blogosphere. i feel your pain, but persistence pays off. visitors, like me, don't always pay enough attention to those that are not on our target list. keep up the great work and they will find you.

    Potato Peel Pie Society...what a hoot. i want to read it for that reason alone. lol

    sherry @ fundinmental

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  10. I'm sure having your mother with you the second time helped. We just have to keep trying.

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    1. She was actually there the first time, too, but as my assistant.

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  11. The first author conference you described sounds like being the new kid at school, where everyone is too busy getting it on with the best friends they've known since kindergarten to care or notice a stranger's in their midst. For some people, cliquishness doesn't end after graduation.

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    1. It truly felt like high school, and I have noticed since then, each event feels like high school in some way. These authors can really get crazy. lol

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  12. Ugh. That kind of event sounds like my worst nightmare. I’ve only done one big event, and that had specific 2-hour time slots for different authors to table their books and sign/sell. I definitely learned a few things, like show up early at the spot, because there are good spots and bad ones, and I missed out on the good ones. Plus, the writers with a bunch of swag, and a bunch of supporters who created a look of excitement, did best. I just had one friend and my mom with me, and 3 introverts does not make an exciting event :D

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    1. Every event I've gone to, my table has been assigned to me.

      I noticed the same things as you about swag and supporters that made their tables (that author) look exciting.

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  13. Book events is the one place I don't usually feel too awkward, but I spent years as a social worker, so awkward first meetings are something I've learned to work past. And as for those writers who snubbed you, I have a few choice words for people like them. I've met a few like that. The ones who are established, but must not be overly confident in their positions because they see every new writer as a threat therefore offer them the snub. Tale pride in that- you're scaring them.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Being a social worker definitely would've given you some tools to deal with awkward meetings.

      I'm still surprised at this one established author. I've been friends with her on FB for years, but in person, she never acknowledges me. (And we've been to many signings together.) I once even tried to say "hi" to her, and she acted as though she couldn't hear me...

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  14. I haven't been to an event like that but I can imagine how hard it can be to feel like you belong. Good on you for signing up for the following year and meeting the challenge full on. Thanks for sharing your experiences today.

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    1. You're welcome, Suzanne! I figured it was time for me to share some of insecurities again.

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  15. Being the socially awkward type, you bet. If it wasn't for a group of established authors inviting me to lunch with them at my first ever writing conference, my writing journey may be a whole lot different. Events like this exist to grow. :)

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  16. I had an amazing time at my first book event and made the mistake of thinking they all would be that way. Since then I've learned how wrong I was. But I've had many more positive experiences than negative so I'm grateful for that. Your advice is spot on.

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    1. Yup. You just never know how one will turn out.

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  17. It's tough to be new in a crowd. You've got some great tips on pursuing those relationships. Sometimes it's just a matter of keeping at it until you make that breakthrough.

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  18. It sounded awful, but I'm glad you stuck to it and had a happy ending. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  19. I haven't attended any author events, but I've done plenty of craft shows and have felt invisible at times when the vendors next to me seemed to know everyone who passed and people bought from them.

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  20. I talked to multiple readers at this year's event about you and how excited they were/are to read your next book(s). You're certainly doing something (a lot of somethings...) right!

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    Replies
    1. It took me a few years to get there. lol I always say patience isn't my strong suit...but maybe it is?

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  21. Love this post! This Saturday will be my third live author event. I don't anticipate selling many books, as I'm a relative unknown, but I do look forward to meeting and learning from other authors. Great tips, thanks. I'll make a sign for my table offering a $5 discount if they buy both books in the series.

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    1. I'm glad my post helped you and gave you ideas. :)

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  22. It is appalling the lack of common courtesy and manners some adults have. I hope I never treat another author or human that way! Always do unto others as you'd have done to you. Glad it went better.

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  23. I often feel out of place at author events because I am naturally introverted and have social anxiety, so I usually don't know anyone. I have found it helps to bring a buddy. That way I never feel alone.

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  24. That's great that you didn't give up and kept going back! I've never been to an author event, but I'm sure I would feel out of place and have a hard time talking to people I don't know.

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    Replies
    1. It's always hard the first time. And the first time at any different event you haven't attended before is always a learning experience.

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  25. Wow, that first experience would have been enough to drive me away from events like that forever. I'm glad you had the fortitude to return.

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  26. Yep, just have to keep pushing along. Best way to learn and hopefully get better and more sales.

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  27. I have never been to one. I want to go to one but I am afraid because of difficulty walking and staying on feet I would get in trouble, so have not tried.

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    1. You should try to go to one some year. I see people in wheelchairs or using canes all the time. <3 My mom uses a cane, and I may actually need to eventually.

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  28. I haven't been to one but it I have had that feeling before. And you're right, someone else there is probably feeling the same way. Watch, learn, grow, adapt and TRY not to take it personal- which let's face it, that last thing is never something we ca do. But we have to say it anyway, right?

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  29. That sounds a lot like how I felt at schools when I first started substitute teaching. Ignored and pushed aside. As I've worked more and gotten to know more people, that happens less and less. The more people see you around, the more they get that you're one of them, and slowly you get invited into the conversations. It just takes time. And perhaps meeting a few other outcasts to make your own group. At least, that's what worked for me.

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  30. Love your story. Never give up. It takes time.

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  31. I'm so glad you went back. I'm not sure I would. Well, I probably would but that voice in my head would whisper a ton of negative things the whole time. Good for you for powering on and for the great success!

    Elsie

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  32. I've never participated in an author event, but when I've attended conventions, I do make sure to say hello to all the authors. It's tough putting yourself out there. Thanks for sharing with us your experiences. :)

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    1. You should attend an event as an author! Your books are awesome!

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  33. Whatever our field, when we are in new settings, it is easy to feel like an outsider or that you are being rejected. Good for you for hanging in there.

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  34. At the beginning, I always went to signings with a friend(s). (I did two last year by myself.) I belong to 2 local writers' groups. That certainly helped. Those writers introduced me to other writers. We (sort of) build our readership online, same with writer friends. I'm not sure I'd recognize many in person--unless they wore nametags. lol Congratulations on not allowing your first bad impression keep you away. BTW, I found them rude to you. Even though it's hard, introduce yourself to new people, go to the workshops and talk to whoever sits next to you--"hi, how's the conference going for you?" Good luck with the next one.

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    1. Yes, I've been getting to know a lot of local authors through groups/signings I've attended. That certainly does help a lot.

      No one sat next to me in the workshops I attended those two years. :(

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  35. Such excellent advice. At most of the multiple author events I've attended the other authors are very welcoming. Most probably remember being a newbie too. And I've attended events where I sold a lot one year and the next barely anything.

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  36. Have yet to have the chance to be a part of an author event. Although you felt like an outsider in your first one at least you went around introducing yourself. I would've sat around, twiddling my thumbs, too nervous and wary and overthink about what to do, to do the same. Yet all the while secretly hoping someone will come to me. And hoping I don't mess it up by saying the wrong thing or not knowing what to say.

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    1. It took a lot of courage for me to not just sit at my table, but I am glad that I did introduce myself. The more I do it at events, the easier it gets.

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  37. Well it sounds awful getting that outcast vibe when trying ones best at an authors venue. I've been thinking along these lines and its important to realize that failure happens to the best of us and its the reason why many folks never succeed. They give up too easily. I read somewhere failure is important otherwise you never learn anything and so what if the ist 2nd 3rd books fail. I expect mine will but guess what? Isaac Asimov wrote 500, he never complained cos like he was a smart man. So never give up folks!

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