Friday, October 2, 2015

Word On The Street Report

Well, I'm back from Toronto and the lovely Word On The Street book fair. I meant to write this post on Wednesday (in fact I started it then) but it turns out it took two days for my brain to recover well enough from all that driving to be able to write coherently. Go figure.

So now it's Friday and I've had some time to reflect on the whole experience and give a summary:

  1. Road trips with friends are fantastic. I always love road trips. If you follow this blog consistently you'll know that I do a few of them a year. They're always long and I generally do them alone. This one was extra crazy because it was just as long as usual, but the turnaround time was ridiculous. We drove for two days in each direction for only one day in our destination. For a trip like this it's important that the journey be just as fun as the destination and in this case we succeeded beautifully. The scenery was gorgeous, the company was top tier, and all three of us were enjoying the whole experience at every moment. We stopped to check out waterfalls, beaches, and monuments. We had deep philosophical discussions. And, miraculously, we also managed to find amazing food for the whole drive out. 
  2. Book fairs are a whole lot of fun. I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that spending the whole day talking and interacting with people who love books as much as I do would be entertaining, but I was a delighted with our time at the book fair. We met some fantastic people, and had some wonderful conversations about everything from our own books, to sword fights, to how impressive it is to be able to tie one's own bowtie. Book fair people are my kind of people.
  3. People love free candy and business cards. We didn't sell as many books as we had hoped we would, but we sure gave away a lot of free candy. We also gave away a lot of business cards. So hopefully some of the people who grabbed them are reading this right now, and if so: hi! Welcome! Nice to see you here.
  4. People still like newsletters (or at least free short stories). I made an old school, on paper, sign up sheet for my mailing list and set it out near the candy. I was delighted to find at the end of the day I had almost as many sign ups for the sheet as I had sold copies of books, and in all but a couple of cases they were not the same people. I have big plans for my mailing list (the occasional free short story not being the least of it) so that's exciting. 
  5. People who love books don't always have enough money for the books they love. We had lots of people come by our tables who were very interested in our books but unable to afford buying them along with all the other books they wanted to buy. This is perhaps one of the only downsides of a book fair this large. There were hundreds of exhibitors in place selling one or more books. Large publishers were there with whole swathes of titles for sale. It was wonderful, and probably a bit overwhelming for book buyers. And, as small independent authors, it felt like an honor every time someone wanted to throw down $20 for a copy of my book. After all, with all that selection and a limited budget folks had to really want to read Blade's Edge to decide they were going to buy it over the other options around. Lots of people took cards, and my hope is that some of those folks will take another look at Blade's Edge when their budgets allow. 
  6. People enjoy funny posters. My bio posters were a bit silly. I was trying to prod people into talking to me instead of just walking by.
    This elicited a number of small smiles as people wandered past, and occasionally it did it's job and people would ask me a question. It was at the far edge of my table, just when people would have walked past altogether if they didn't stop to read the poster and it made a number of people stop and reassess my table, and maybe talk to me. So I call that a win. 
  7. The street in front of the Harbor Front Center is terribly planned/designed. Don't get me wrong, the whole thing is a great place to have a book fair, and seemed like a wonderful spot. But there's a crazy mix of pedestrian crossings, bike lanes, tramways, and roads that is so poorly marked/designated I'm amazed we only saw one accident while we were there. Yes, that's right, as we were setting up for the day we witnessed a car get t-boned by a tram. The car was at fault, but everything is so poorly marked I couldn't blame the driver for being confused. We saw many near misses after that and spent the day jumping in our seats whenever we heard horns honking as we expected another accident at any moment. The Harbor Front Center is beautiful and I think everyone should go check it out, but if you can avoid driving there, do so.
  8. It's lovely to see old friends even when it's only for a split second. The trip was so short, and the day so busy, that we barely got to spend time with the wonderful folks who housed us in Toronto. However, the few hours we did manage to spend in each other's company were lovely and would have been worth the trip on their own. So that was a major bonus. 
So, a number of people have asked me if I would do it again. The answer is that I'm not sure. The experience this time was wonderful, due in large part to how much fun we had with the road trip itself, along with how much fun it was to talk to everyone at the fair. However, financially it was not the most practical expense, so doing it again would, in large part, depend on how I'm doing with overall book sales the next time registration rolls around for WOTS 2016. It was certainly a lot of fun, and I don't in the least regret doing it. It has made me want to participate in a number of other events where authors get to set up booths and meet readers. But perhaps more locally. Or, alternatively, if I were able to roll the whole thing into a longer visit in Toronto and thus write the whole thing off as a vacation that might be preferable too. 

For now, I'll simply say, "I'm thinking about it."

Now then, please note that come Monday of next week we will have the talented Nick Bryan by the blog for a guest post about turning serial fiction into novels, in preparation of the launch of his third Hobson & Choi book Trapped in the Bargain Basement (currently available for preorder).

In the meantime, I'll be spending the weekend catching up on the writing and promotion I fell behind on for the trip. See you Monday! Happy fall!

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