Sunday, October 21, 2018

A Short Tale of a Long Tail: Are Events Worth It?

People who don't go to events (conventions, conferences, festivals, craft shows) often ask if going to these events is worth it. The answer is a bit complicated.

Naturally, if you don't have the money, it doesn't matter if it's worth it, or in what sense it's worth it. As I often tell salesfolk, you may be offering me a good price for the product, but $400 would be a great price for a flawless diamond--but that doesn't matter, if I don't have $400.

But let's assume you do have the money to pay your entrance fee and/or table fee (if you're selling books) and to get a hotel room and to pay for gas and food.

Now the question, "Is it worth it?" involves defining what you mean by "worth it."

I'm a member of the Southern Indiana Writers Group. We publish a themed anthology of members' stories every year. Fellow member T. Lee Harris and I (and often other members, as well) went to science fiction and other writing-oriented conventions and offered the books for sale.

We sold some, but never enough to cover expenses.

After a couple of years, we were approached by an independent bookstore owner in our own state, who said he had been observing us at events and wanted to invite us to do a group signing/sale at his bookstore.

That led to a great relationship with him, his wife, her mother, other writers, and readers. When he began an Authors Fair, we were always welcome there. We always sold books, met people, and had fun.

When he started an indie press, any member of the SIW who had a book was invited to publish with him, the first novel publication for some of us.

When he decided to get out of the publication business (which, I would venture to say, most indie presses do), T. Lee and I joined another "orphaned" author to form our own indie press. This happened and that happened, but Per Bastet Publications, LLC is going strong, four years later and counting.

Whether we've made money or broken even or panned out monetarily shy at events, we've never attended one without coming away with something valuable: a contact or two, good will, recommendations for other outlets, marketing ideas, and fire for writing.

Your mileage may vary, but my answer to the question is an unequivocal YES. Assuming, of course, I have what T. Lee calls "the readies" to pay my way.

Do you attend writing/sales events? Do you consider they've been worth it?

Marian Allen, Author Lady
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