Last weekend was my second consecutive year at the Southern Kentucky Book Festival in Bowling Green. As well as having a signing table throughout the event, I was selected to be part of two panels. On Friday I was in a group of authors (which included one of my favorite local authors Tracy Barrett) about writing YA fantasy. On Saturday I was on a panel with amazing Middle Grade authors discussing the craft of writing.
I have participated in many bookselling events over the past three years since I began publishing as D. G. Driver, including book festivals, fantasy conventions, and school-based events. As soon as I finish writing this post I'll be joining a group of Nashville authors to hawk books at a local arts and crafts festival. Of everything I've done, SOKY Bookfest is my favorite. There are several reasons for this.
1. It's free! We don't have to pay to have a space to sell books. Authors submit their books ahead of time and are chosen to participate. And they aren't like some festivals that only choose books published by the big 5 companies. There were people with small publishers (like me), and even some self-published authors. Not everyone who is selected to have a table gets to present on a panel. Last year I was on one panel on Children's Day. This year they had me on two.
While I've never had to pay to be a panelist and sign for a few minutes afterward at any event, I have always had to pay something to have a table or booth (or even just have a copy of my book on display) for the entire event. Then I have to fret about having to sell enough books to make back what I spent to be there. That doesn't always happen. At this event, all of the books were sold through Barnes and Noble. They either ordered books ahead of time, or they worked on consignment. I make a much smaller profit going through them than if I sell them directly, but that's okay. All the authors are in the same boat in that regard.
2. All of the authors are given equal respect. Again, at many events there is a clear dividing line between those authors with the hardback covers from New York, and those of us with print on demand. At this festival the authors are lined up in rows, side by side, organized by age group. The room goes from picture books, Middle Grade, YA, and up. So, bestselling authors can be sitting beside a gal who only sells a couple copies a month.
3. And there's no over-the-top fanfare! We aren't allowed to bring posters or banners. Just the books and some small swag like bookmarks or candy. You aren't overpowered by someone's eye-catching, expensive ads or cover models walking around. In this way, people walking through actually stop and pick up your books and talk to you about them. It's so much more personal, and more like a bookstore where you have the opportunity to talk to the authors as you pass through.
4. It's so organized! It's put together by Western Kentucky University Library and Barnes and Noble. I'm sure there is lots of fundraising and behind the scenes work to put it together. It's been happening for years and years, so they've got it down to a science. Local schools bus their book clubs to the event on Children's Day and raise money to do so. One volunteer told me she starts fielding questions about the event in October of every year.
5. The panel moderators read your books! I have been to so many events where the people organizing the event haven't even read my book before (which includes school visits I've done). So, it is nice to be asked questions at a panel by an enthusiastic young person who enjoyed my book. One of our moderators was the same lovely lady as last year, and she told me how happy she was to now have both Juniper Sawfeather books and that she loves my writing. My heart was so full.
6. The people are awesome. All of the authors are fun to chat with and so nice. The people who come to the event are book people, and they like to talk. For a shy gal like me, this is a joy. I got to hug some friends I haven't seen in a while. Teri Polen came by and gave me a copy of her horror novel Sarah that I endorsed for her. (Spooky ghost story you should read). I went to a 'Meet the Authors' reception and had a lovely time talking with authors and people from the community while eating yummy food and drinking wine.
7. Oh! And they feed us, too. Free lunch, coffee, soda, and a reception with plenty of hors d'oevres.
Now, I live near Nashville. It's a little over an hour to get to Bowling Green, so I didn't stay there. I drove back and forth each day. To that end, I made a little profit that weekend. Not much, but I am proud to say I didn't lose any money. There are a lot of authors that attend this even that travel. The author next to me at my table was from Florida. I don't really know how this benefits them financially. Most of the authors were not paid to be there. I'm sure the keynote authors like R. L. Stine got some money, and maybe the authors who were teaching the writing workshop that was going on simultaneously. However, all the signing authors in the big hall were probably there on their own dime. It's a fun day, but if I didn't live nearby I don't know that I would be willing to spend the money to be there. I have often turned down events that I couldn't drive to easily for this reason.
And now for some other news!!! If you've been following me, you know that my Juniper Sawfeather Novels recently go a makeover, all to prepare for book 3, Echo of the Cliffs to come out on May 23rd. Well, the change is officially set at all the vendors. So the only copies of Cry of the Sea and Whisper of the Woods left with their original covers are the small amount I have left at my house and the couple that are for sale at Parnassus Books in Nashville. (There might be used ones sold on Amazon, but who wants that, right?)
I have had a couple people contact me about wanting the original covers. So, here's how you can get one. Who knows? Maybe they'll be collector's items someday. One can only hope. I have a handful left to sell. I am willing to lower the price to $12.00 per book (cheaper than Amazon), and add $3.50 for postage. You'll need to fill out this form, letting me know if you want one of the books or both of them. I'll send you a PayPal invoice, and as soon as you get your receipt, I'll sign them and pop them in the mail to you. I will include a handmade mermaid tail bookmark, too.
And if you're more comfortable ordering from a store than a person. You can get signed copies of both books from Parnassus Books in Nashville. If you write PERSONALIZE in the order comments, they'll have me come to the store and write a personal note.
Cry of the Sea
Whisper of the Woods
Ah! I have to get going to the Franklin Craft Festival! I'm running late. Please feel free to leave a comment. I always enjoy hearing from you.
D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.