I’ve had a momentous few weeks. A trip to Vietnam, multiple birthday celebrations, and 3-days at Book Expo Australia. The holiday, I’ll write about separately. The birthdays have come and gone (last one today). It’s the Book Expo weekend I want to share with you.
First off, the weather was pretty bad. Cold, wet and windy for most of Friday and Saturday. The sun didn’t come out until Sunday lunch time. I nearly missed it because I was inside all day long.
Friday was workshop day. I booked into two Kate Forsyth sessions and one session talking about the need (or not) for literary agents. Surprisingly the numbers were very low, which was not great for the Expo organisers, but worked out well for attendees. We enjoyed small, intimate discussions with our authors of choice and received some great tips and advice. I haven’t decided on whether or not to re-attempt attracting a literary agent, but I am very taken with Kate Forsyth’s “narrative arc” (Building Castles in the air) and plan to implement her planning techniques into my next manuscript.
The third workshop on literary agents was hosted by Colin Taber (author of The United States of Vinland) and Greg Barron (author of Lethal Sky. Colin and Greg were interesting and generous with their knowledge and experience. Colin has successfully self-published without an agent (though he’s considering one to assist with movie deals) and Greg has a been with an agent for several years. The general consensus was if you can find one that feels like a good match for you and your work, go for it. Literary Agents have a network filled with contacts that ordinary authors (especially first-timers like me) just do not have. They need to be sold on your work though to be able to pitch it to publishers, distribution networks, and feature film production companies with deep pockets…
Saturday and Sunday were filled with learning to sell books. Being a reserved type of person, this is not so easy. I don’t enjoy talking about myself so it helped to have the friendly generosity of two other Odyssey Books authors, Tracy M Joyce and Sue Parritt, to fall back on. Together we talked up a storm and managed to sell several copies of each other’s novels.
On Saturday afternoon, we also participated in our first ever panel where we were meant to talk about editing and the journey to publication. The moderator didn’t show up so Tracy grabbed the microphone and was a marvelous stand-in. We did talk a bit about editing, but mostly we talked about our novels, how we found a publisher, the locations of our stories, and then opened up the floor to questions. We were quite pleased to have several people in the audience (most of whom we didn’t know). They all stayed until the end and asked questions and/or chatted with us as we finished up. Not bad at all!
Here’s my top four tips gleaned from a weekend at Olympic Park, Homebush.
1. Marketing is so important not only for the broader event, but also for our individual stand and each of the authors. I’ll be investing in an eye-popping stand up banner, book marks, and a YouTube trailer before my next appearance. Tracy’s banner was an amazing draw-card to the Odyssey stand.
2. Study up on the themes and issues you address (knowingly or not) in your novel so you can easily talk about it with every single person that comes within chatting range.
3. There is such a thing as Book Tubers and a growing world of book bloggers who love to talk about books, their experiences with authors and their visits to Book Expos and Fairs. They are young and enthusiastic, and I’ve enjoyed visiting their sites and listening to and reading what they have to share with the world.
4. Printed books are not dying off in favour of e-books. The number of book fanatics groaning under the weight of the books they’d bought or picked up for free was impressive. I was one of them. My book pile has tripled in size!
There’s loads of book-tubers, do a search on YouTube…