Author events & which to attend

I attended the Decatur Book Festival for the first time this past week and had a great time. For $175, I potentially exposed thousands of people to my name and work, spoke for five minutes in front of a small crowd, and had the opportunity to sell books.

Was it worth it?

If we’re talking immediate return in dollars and cents, no. But never evaluate whether or not to attend an event solely by an ROI formula. To make my $175 back, I would have had to sell more copies of The Lost Testament than I was allowed to bring (there was a 20 copies per title restriction).

So, how do you evaluate an event? Which ones do you attend and which do you skip? I consider a number of things, including:

  1. How long has the event been around? If it’s in its first year, proceed with caution. First year events are crapshoots. More often than not, they have poor turnout and the kinks are still there. If you have to pay to be a vendor at a first year event and your money is tight, I would skip it and sign up next year.
  2. How much money are you comfortable putting at risk? If you’re operating on a shoestring, stick to book signings and appearances offering free vendor tables because there’s no out-of-pocket costs besides gas.
  3. The intangibles. If you’re not getting paid, can you speak? If you can speak, can you record it? If you can record it, can you sell DVDs of your performance commercially? Who’s in the audience? Someone who needs a service you, by chance, happen to sell? (I met two at the Festival). Share the love! Make the magic happen!

Brian Thompson’s passion is motivating and encouraging others to write and to pursue Do-It-Yourself publishing. He is also author of the Christian fiction thrillers The Lost Testament, and The Revelation Gate. You can read more about Brian by visiting his author site.

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