Did that get your attention? How’s that for an opening line? Teasing, tantalizing, enticing, maybe a little salacious? Well, relax. Those were the words I said to the author next to me at Book ‘Em North Carolina 2015 Writers’ Conference and Book Fair this past Saturday. What I was admitting to was Book ‘Em North Carolina was my first ever book conference and I was nervous because I was also sitting on a panel called Books with a Social Conscience. And I may have been nervous, but excited and happy, too!
Book ‘Em is a one day event held every year during the last weekend of February. This year over 80 authors gathered to present their written works, meet other authors and greet readers. It was a very cool schmooze-fest.” People strolled by and asked questions about your books. They picked up some of your “swag” (if you had any like bookmarks, pens, buttons, etc.) and if they wanted a book, they picked one up, you signed it for them and they paid when they left the show. The wonderful thing about Book ‘Em is that authors agree to give 40% (or more) of the price of their book to the “cause” which are a variety of very worthwhile literacy campaigns. I’m a big supporter of those, so I was delighted to sign up for this.
As I said, this was my first event, ever. Therefore, I was uncertain how many books to bring, how much swag I would need (everyone has different stuff), how to decorate my table. But I checked out pictures from last year’s event, and came up with my look. I was showing my two books of poetry, but some authors had 8, 15, or even 25 books!
While there, I introduced myself to the authors next to me on both sides. Linda Vigen Phillips, author of the traditionally published and highly acclaimed non-fiction novel, Crazy (which I purchased), brought her computer to play her book trailer. I forgot about bringing my portable DVD player. It would have been very cool to run my trailer for By Light Betrayed (next time. Thanks, Linda!). Very cool idea because a sharp trailer can draw a crowd and entice others to buy right there on the spot. Lesson learned for next year!
On the other side of me, Gretchen Griffith was showing at least four books, both self-published and traditionally published. I bought her Wheels and Moonshine, an award-winning historical non-fiction biography. She brought two other historical non-fiction novels but also had an illustrated children’s picture book.
Linda and Gretchen sat on a panel together (the hour before my panel) and discussed writing memoirs. Panels give general information and allow questions from writers and guests in all levels of expertise and experience. Sort of gave me some idea of what to expect when my panel came along.
My panel had five members but two panelists didn’t make it. So there I was with bestselling authors Dr. Patrice Carter and E. Marie Sanders. Dr. Carter writes spiritual self-healing and Ms. Sanders writes Christian Romantic Fiction. We three talked about our writing and how it provided a societal “conscience,” or if indeed it did. We spoke about moral and social obligations and how we see our role as writers. It was a surprisingly dynamic topic. Our audience was small but intimate and the questions were intriguing.
I met others during the day that brought smiles. A mutual acquaintance (friend of my best friend) popped by my table and I returned the favor. Book sharing goes on everywhere, but no one expects anyone to give them a book. Afterall, we are there to make a donation to the cause, right? So this was my meeting with multi book author H.V. Purvis. I purchased his newer book, Death in a Small Town.
And I have to mention the fabulous author on the other side of Linda, Jan McCanless. I bought her Tire Patch Cookies are Good For the Soul. Jan described herself as a little like Irma Bombeck, only prettier. Jan’s the author of the Beryl’s Cove Mysteries, seven of them so far. She claims that she writes “happy murders.” And her focus is a presentation with humor. The book I bought is her second compilation of her newspaper and magazine articles.
And before I go, I need to say I had to stop by and pick up Scott Mason’s book, Tar Heel Traveler. You’ve probably seen Scott on TV if you live in the tri-state area. He’s the reporter for WRAL’s Tar Heel Traveler show, with over 100 journalism awards, 14 regional Emmys and three National Edward R. Murrow Awards. Yup, that Scott Mason. And such a warm and sweet guy he was, too!
Next to his table was another very popular and best-selling author Christie Silvers, author of the Amazon best-selling Liz Baker series. I bought book one (I had seen book four on Amazon and admired the cover, so I had to buy the first volume and get her to sign it). And need I tell you that the book, Time for Death, is a vampire tale? Oh yes. But wait! Guess what she did! After I bought her book, she sent two folks to see me to pick up a little vampire poetry. Was I surprised!? So my first two sales of By Light Betrayed were because of Christie. Blown. Away. She was amazing. And me a stranger.
The whole day was extra special because I had my husband there to share it all (he’s never seen me “be the author me” like this, so this was a first for him too). My first conference experience was positive and invaluable and I’m ready to get back to writing and to go to the next event that I can, soon as I can. I like making contact with the people. And what they will tell you is priceless.
Everyone has to have a first time. My first time was delightful, informative, rewarding. As every first time should be, right?
Next time, I have ideas for my table and more books to write!
If you have questions about preparing for your book fair, drop me a note via the Contact Me page and I’ll be happy to answer them.
Before I go, I want to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year and Valentine Day and Chinese New Year.
But don’t think I’m going to let all you leprechauns get away. I’m sticking around. More on the search for the pot o’ gold next time!