Authors for a Good Cause

This past weekend, I participated in an Author Showcase presented by The Threshold, an organization in Wisconsin that provides job opportunities and assistance for individuals with cognitive disabilities. It’s a great cause, and the people running the event were all very welcoming, friendly, and game for everything (even face painting!).

Each of the thirty authors donated $25 to The Threshold to have a table at the event where we could meet potential readers and sell our books for a few hours on a Saturday.

Two of my writer friends, Malinda Andrews and M.K. Wiseman, participated last year and had only good things to say about the event, so I figured, why not? I’d have three new books in a series to sell. Well, if you’ve been following me on social media, you know that it ended up only being two since my third book is somehow way more intimidating and harder to finish than the first two, but that turned out not to be a bad thing either.

I arrived at the event the same time as another author friend, Margaret King (yes, most of my author friends have M names), and we walked in together and set up near Malinda. The narrow tables were arranged in a large rectangle with all the authors on the inside of the corral so that the browsing public could make a loop around and see everything. I scored a pretty good spot at the back of the room across from the food table where they’d be selling brats and burgers for lunch.

Set up at the table next to me was Kerri Lukasavitz, who’s working on middle-grade/YA series about horse riders. Kerri was super nice, and we chatted off and on throughout the day to pass the time between customers. And of course, we each bought each other’s books! (Actually, we traded. I gave her a Brit for a Mystery Horse.) My eight-year-old is going to love hers, I’m sure.

Near the beginning of the day, each author got a chance at the microphone to talk about what we were selling, which is not something authors usually like doing. I know public speaking is a fear of many people’s, and it is scary (I groaned about talking in the microphone just like everyone else did); but at an event like this, we’re all friends, and there’s no judgment. I do think public speaking is an important skill to have, to some degree. I don’t know how many times I’ve been in a meeting at work, and the presenter is a low talker who can’t be heard a few rows back. Project, people! OK sorry, mini rant over.

ANYWAY, Remember when I mentioned face painting? My friend from work, Barbara, has a face painting business called B Painted Face Painting, so she came along to keep me company and give me an extra draw to my table. When we arrived, we realized my allotted area was far too small for her setup, so I asked the organizers if she could pop her table up in a common area. They were excited to have her, and I saw she handed out a couple business cards while she was there.

Now, for the results. My goal for the day was to sell two books. Including the one I traded with Kerri, I sold five—three Brits, one Sharnita, and a Flowerantha. Goal surpassed! This may even be my first event where I made the cost of admission back and then some. However, even with Front Row priced at $5, I still couldn’t move any of those. Haha. It’s not for everybody… And to be fair, the clientele was mostly older folks.

Not only did I sell a handful of books, I got two new mailing list subscribers! I think not having the third book out yet worked to my advantage because it encouraged people to sign up if they wanted to know when it was coming. I had a sign on my table with the book cover on it that vaguely said “Coming Soon” and a tablet with my Join page loaded. All people had to do was type in their email address, and they immediately got my list-exclusive short story sent to them. Poof!

I could do a whole other post about the planning and headaches that went into getting ready for this event, and in fact I think that’ll be my next post! Let’s just say as a preview that Amazon and KDP are two different entities with two different priorities when it comes to delivering books.

But the event was great, and I would absolutely do it again next year. Hopefully with at least three Rockin’ Austen books to sell! I’ve been bit by the book fair bug, and I’ve since also decided to participate in the writers marketplace at the Southeast Wisconsin Festival of Books in November! Stop by if you’re local.