RT14 Giant Book Fair – My take on it

By now several of you may have heard or read about the book fair this year.  If you haven’t all you need to do is search for it and you will find dozens of tweets or blog posts about it.  Here’s my take.

I am a small press author, my publisher is recognized by RWA (which is why I submitted to them) and I am now also an indy author, since my anthology is self-published.  This was also my third year signing at RT.  As only one of my books is in print, I didn’t sell any books and instead decided to hand out flats, trading cards and other swag promoting my books.

I say this to give a little background so you know this isn’t my first trip down this road.  In previous years the indy and ebook signing was on the night before the big traditional book fair, I loved this because I’m a reader as well and I liked having the opportunity to peruse the aisles of some of my favorite authors while thinking one day, ONE DAY I will be sitting in this room.  I mean what author wouldn’t want to?  The room is usually STUFFED with readers looking for good books.  And every writer wants to get their books in front of as many readers as they can.  Right?  So imagine my surprise and elation when I got the notice that registration for RT this year was opening and that any author signing had to register quickly to secure a spot because indy, small press and traditional authors were being combined for the first time!  YES!  I thought to myself, I am going to have the opportunity to be seen by readers who may otherwise not have sought me out.  It was again stated in a letter I received last month – “One Stop Shopping” was the quote from the letter.  I did a happy dance I would be IN the room.  We were also told there would be 2 authors per 6 foot table so we would have 3 feet of space to put out our swag and/or books.  Excellent!

Well it wasn’t exactly that way when Saturday rolled around and I was told that indy and small press authors were signing in a room across the hall from where traditionally pubbed authors were.  Disappointment set in.  I was also fairly sad to see that the 2 authors per table deal also did not pertain to my room.  We barely had 2 feet of space. We were scrunched in together.  Get to know your neighbor, hope you like them, we joked as we squished in and tried to make room for our books, flats and swag.  For authors who made 3 foot banners, well they were out of luck as they didn’t want to encroach on their neighbors.

Still I had a good time.  I just wish that if we were going to be separated from the traditionally published why not just keep our signing on a separate day?  This way readers could do both without having to sacrifice time on either side.  Or I would have REALLY liked to see the authors combined as the registration and letter said they would be and have one room for A-L and the second for M-Z.

I won’t speak about the volunteer who may or may not have told people that my room was an aspiring author room, or if readers were ushered into the traditional room over ours regardless of what they wanted, I didn’t see it or hear it so I can’t say if it’s true.  I will say that my room was VERY light on visitors in the first 30 minutes of the fair and only slightly picked up after that.

I’m not angry, just really disappointed in the way this was handled.  It was almost a bait and switch scenario.  I registered well before I intended to in order to secure my place at the GIANT BOOK FAIR only to be regulated to a place I’ve had at my previous two signings, worse I had LESS table space at this one than in my previous two signings.

Still, I had a good time, met new authors who were witty and a pleasure to sit beside and I met some new readers that I pray will take a chance on me and that’s all that really matters to me when all is said and done.  Oh!  I was interviewed about the anthology and gave out lots of swag as well.

I just hope the powers that be who put this together, listen to everyone’s input and take this as a learning experience and don’t repeat it.

Until Next Time,
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