Notice something different in the title of this blog than the title of my July entry? In July, my blog was “Marketing My Self Published Book: A first-time author’s journey.” A fine title but does being self published really matter anymore?
What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet;
-William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, Act 2
If the term self published bothers you, drop it. You are an indie author. Your imprint is Create Space or Ingram Publishing Services or whatever publisher puts ink on paper for you.
Part Two: Book Festivals
All literary festivals have applications to fill out and deadlines to meet. Be sure to read the rules and guidelines before submitting your book. If your book doesn’t comply with their requirements but you have your heart set on hobnobbing with the other authors, it’s worth contacting the director.
I had my heart set on being part of the Virginia Festival of the Book.
Since KINGSLEY wasn’t coming out until November 8th and the Virginia Festival of the Book deadline for submission was October 1st, I asked permission to submit the final draft of my novel instead of the finished product. I was very fortunate that they agreed.
The sad fact is that most Literary Festivals aren’t welcoming to indie authors. When they are, they seem to give priority to indie authors living in their state. This is where doing some legwork before you publish pays off. I was an active volunteer for many years with the Virginia Festival of the Book, and I’d moderated and participated in panels. I can’t say for certain that this is why I was accepted but it might have helped.
The Virginia Festival of the Book is a multi-day literary festival in Charlottesville, Virginia. The festival invites authors and publishing experts from all over the country. Most of the events are free so they draw a good crowd. The festival is held in March, which means weather can be a factor in its success. A lovely spring day attracts more attendees. Rain or snow is a real wet blanket. My panel was scheduled for a Friday at a popular library. I was looking forward to it.
Regardless of whether an author is invited to participate in a panel, they can still rent a table at the Omni Hotel on the last Saturday of the festival to sell their books. I rented half of a table, which cost $110.
Bottom line: Don’t wait until the last minute to submit your book or to rent a table if your goal is to be part of a book festival.
Once I had advance reader copies of KINGSLEY, I began submitting to other Literary Festivals. At that time I didn’t realize how slim my chances were of getting in. Most of the festivals I applied to required several copies of my book, which meant more trips to the post office. Money going out and none coming in.
I was rewarded for my hard work with acceptance to the Dahlonega Literary Festival in Georgia. This festival was scheduled for the weekend before the Virginia Festival so March was filling up with opportunities to talk about my book. I was to be part of a panel that wrote science fiction and fantasy. I had high hopes so I rented a space for book signings and sales. It only cost around $35. Not bad, but attending the festival in Georgia meant renting a hotel and a couple tanks of gas to drive there and back.
Was it worth it? Not in sales. But both festivals allowed me to spread the word about KINGSLEY, sharpen my presentation, and focus my pitch.
And as the saying goes,
“How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
“Practice, practice, practice”?
Next up: Practice makes perfect (or at least better). Watch for it in 2017