Houston Authors Bash 2015 Postmortem

Home / Houston Authors Bash 2015 Postmortem - March 2, 2015 , by edunlap
I made my first real appearance as Artemus Withers to the public on Saturday, February 28th at the Houston Authors Bash in Katy, TX. I had a book launch party earlier in the week, but my slightly less snazzy alter ego showed up there. As my first event, what did I learn, how did I think it went, and what do I think I (and the organizers) might do better next time?Probably the biggest category is what did I learn. As I’ve never been to anything like this as a vendor/presenter/author, there are many behind the scenes things to take into account. I lucked out and had a publisher behind me with this one, so my table fee was taken care of and they helped me out with a large poster of my first book (went on a floor easel they also got for me). I had to provide my own table runner, swag giveaway stuff and two 8×10 posters of my book covers for the table (OK, I sprung for some with a thicker backing – my publisher (Chart House Press!) actually provided a printed 8×10 for my covers in a clear plastic stand-up frame). My short story book was there (I asked for a certain number and those were provided – yes, I will be paying for them so they weren’t free.)

The author next to me offered a free ebook if people signed up for his newsletter. I immediately talked to my publisher about doing the same thing. Sure, that means giving Mishaps and Mayhem away for free as an ebook, but that was part of the plan anyway. This would be a great way to introduce readers to the Reztap universe – if they like it, that means future readers, fans and book buyers. I’ll be enacting that on my web site as well. I have only to wait for the formatted ebook to be delivered so I can send it to my newsletter subscribers!

I had volunteered to be on a panel. Truth be told is what panel number two I thought I would be the most useful in, but I was placed on panel number one – street teaming. Not only did I not know what street teaming was, I was pretty certain I wouldn’t be adding much content to the folks watching from the audience. As it turned out, the panel wasn’t exactly as well organized and planned as one would hope for. There was no moderator, the authors weren’t notified when the panel was starting and, for the most part, the panel was geared toward authors, not readers and fans, so our target audience was busy in the big room selling books and talking to readers while we did the panel for mostly, well, us! But all was not lost. I’d been to so many writing conferences and attended so many panels that I had no problem stepping in and acting as moderator. I learned so much from the other authors there about street teams and how they work, Facebook parties and other fan engagement tips that would strengthen your fan base and make them a part of the creative and marketing processes. I’d like to think other authors on the panel got some great ideas from each other as well. As for our five audience members, four of them were part of one authors street team!

The overall event went well enough. I sold seven books, traded one for another author’s book (thanks Tom Glover!), and signed up eight people for my newsletter. That’s 15 potential future readers (or more) for The Adventures of Reztap when it comes out! I also handed out 50 pieces of homemade swag (outer space themed foam stickers from Oriental Traders with hand cut personalized information on the front about the books and my website), so there’s another potential 50 readers for my books! I think this was a success for my first big event.

What could I do better next time? I would’ve liked to have some better swag available. I’m currently looking into professional bookmarks and probably some business cards. something easy to hand out and preprinted. The foam stickers were fun, but they inadvertently painted my book toward a younger audience than I’d anticipated. My book covers, I’ve discovered from the foot traffic, are skewing to a lower age bracket than I’d intended also. Many people asked me about my kids’ book – on even thought it was a graphic novel! My swag will need to be a little more sophisticated to balance that reastion out for sure. On the other hand, my book is profanity free and really doesn’t have any graphic content, per se. There are some adult situations, but I’ve intentionally not gotten graphic in any of that. There is suggestion and innuendo, but that’s certainly nothing a high school age reader or even a great majority of middle school readers wouldn’t be shocked by. At the end of the day, some of the jokes may go over the heads of the more naive kids, but there’s really not much in there a parent would find highly objectionable or corrupting. I suppose the references to holographic pornography chits is the most risque element in the book, but, as I said before, there are no graphic depictions accompanying them.

What did the organizers of the event take from this year’s session? Number one – don’t hold it on a Houston Rodeo weekend! We had half the traffic (or less) than last year when it was held the weekend before the rodeo started. On the panels – if the panels are going to be geared toward writers, they should be held after the doors close so the authors themselves can take advantage of the panels if they so choose. As it was, the authors had to choose between selling their books and meeting readers and fans to attend the panels. No readers attended the panels – I’m not sure this is really the venue for reader attended panels anyway. The feel of the HAB was one of people dropping by for perhaps an hour to browse through the offerings, perhaps chat with a few writers, buy a few books and then move on with the rest of their day. A casual book browsing or buying experience. It works out well as designed.

Will I attend this next year? Absolutely! I’ll have three or four books available then and perhaps a bigger presence in the book market by then. I hope to engage with more readers and maybe introduce them to fellow authors when they come to see me. I think that’s the biggest gift a successful author can give an up and coming author – a little extra traffic by their booth that might catch a new readers eye!

Keep writing my friends and watch for March 9th when The Adventures of Reztap comes out!