I recently had the honor and opportunity to spend three wonderful days in Springfield Massachusetts at the Big E the weekend of 9/19-9/21/08 and all I can say is what an absolute, totally WHIRLWIND weekend it was!! I'm still flying from it and am sure I will be for a while. I talked to so many people (readers, parents, teachers, etc), sold SO many books (although I did come home with some of each, which is a good thing because I've got some events coming up in the next few weeks that I'll need books for ... but the whole Big E event was just a wonderful experience!
My son was there with me part of that weekend, helping to move books etc as I needed to (THANK YOU, MIC!!!), and as we were heading out to the car at the end of my third day there, I looked at him and said, "I feel like I'm leaving my kids behind". He looked at me kind of funny and I explained that after selling as many books as I did, talking to teachers and librarians and parents about promoting reading, visiting schools, etc etc etc, and spending nearly 12 hours every day for THREE days straight just trying to make a difference..... I felt like I was leaving something really important behind (and if you think about it, I really was). Honestly I feel like my total experience at the Big E was one of THE most rewarding and accomplished things I've done since I started writing!!! And what's even cooler than that is even after three 12-hour days of go go go, talk talk talk, sell sell sell, I didn't want to leave. I wanted to go right back in there and just keep doing it!!! It's exhausting and very overwhelming at times, but damn, I just didn't want to leave!!!!
Debbie and Mike Kilday were two of our staple contributors & organizers of this year's event, and I want to just send a MUCH deserved shout-out to them both!!!! Debbie has been there every day since the beginning of the Big E and WILL be there every day until it's done, and her husband Mike has been there almost every day. After dealing with arranging books, logging the sales, etc during the day, they then go home and tally up all the sales from the day. Debbie is our full time cashier, which was ABSOLUTELY AWESOME!!!! I told her (and Mike) over and over again that the booth is BEAUTIFUL this year and having HER for the full-time cashier really makes it easier for the featured authors to talk to the public, make the sale, and move on to the next reader without having to worry about dealing with the $$.
At the halfway point for the Big E (around day 8), the book sales in our booth had surpassed how much we made last year total!!! Our readers ROCK!!!! I worked with Doreen Tango Hampton and Elaine Alexander on Saturday and we stayed very busy nearly all day. I worked again with Doreen on Sunday and we had an absolutely WONDERFUL time working together sharing many laughs, ideas, and just having a great time together.... thank you ladies!!!
We had a near record-breaking number of people who came to the Big E on Saturday, 9/20 - the weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, it wasn't too hot .. it was just a GREAT day!!!
As it turns out, I had a record-breaking weekend for my OWN sales as well! According to what I was able to keep track of (and I'm sure it was actually more but I'm not sure how much), I believe I sold 250 books between this weekend and the sales from books last week that were in the booth before I got there!!!
I had new readers who bought the set of three books in my series as well as readers who were looking just for book three, Dragon's Tear. I had anywhere from 8-year olds to retired grandparents buying books ... and all I can say is thank you to my readers, the parents, teachers, librarians, etc that I talked to this weekend!!! You guys ALL made my weekend one of the most memorable experiences of my life!!!
As I look back, all I can think of is what an experience it was!! I'm still flying after talking to a woman who said that the books are very hot in her school right now - (she was actually very surprised when she realized I was the author lol.) I asked her where her school was and she said ALBANY, NEW YORK!!!! I told her that I've never been there and she said, "Well, your books are there and the kids LOVE them.".....
WoooooooooooooooooooooHooooooooooooooooooo!!!! And to quote my good friend C.L. Freire.....
OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!
A funny thing from this weekend .. I spoke to a woman and her husband yesterday who said their daughter was really disappointed that she couldn't be there to meet me, but she wanted to buy my books for her. I asked her how her daughter knew me or heard of me and she said she works at BORDERS IN SIMSBURY, CT (which I've been to about 4-5 times doing book signings LOL) and she's been wanting to meet me but always has to work or something else gets in the way ... so they bought her a set and I signed them for her ...
OMG OMG OMG!!!
At 6 pm on 9/21 it was the end of mine and Doreen's shifts and two new authors came in to be the featured authors. I decided to sign more books to leave since they'd been such a hit, and I was standing in the back of the booth. As I looked around every so often, I would notice someone looking at my books on the shelf and of course the marketing/selling side of me MADE me go talk to them (LOL) to let them know I was the author and which was book 1, book 2, etc. I was thrilled when I actually sold a copy of book 1 (Dragon's Blood) to one lady when she saw her 10-year old wanted it and then she said she would get the other two from me but had to wait for him to wander off to the lego place before she could. I told her if she didn't get the chance, here is my business card with my info on it and she can always call/email me and I'd be happy to sign them and mail them directly to her. Now that I think about it, I did that a LOT while I was up there ... :)
If you look in my pictures here on MySpace (http://viewmorepics.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewPicture&friendID=287280218&albumId=934345), I created a Big E 2008 photo album where I've put some pictures from yesterday when it finally slowed down for five minutes. My books were on the top of the brown bookshelf as soon as you walk into the booth. Indiana Jones was COMPLETELY made out of legos .. and I just had to get a picture of him. He was really amazing!!! I can't imagine how much time and legos it took to make him!!!! Kudos go out to the lego builders, too!!!
Well, the weekend is gone and today I have to go back to work. I just wanted to share my Big E experiences with you and tell you that if you're an author out there struggling to get your books out there, you CAN make a difference and it CAN be done!!!! Do everything you can to get your name out there!! If you'd like info about our CAPA group, visit the CAPA website at www.aboutcapa.com or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll be happy to share anything I know. My next blog will have some info in it about what I do to get my books "out there"... so stay tuned for that!!
I actually got to go back to the Big E one more day .. 9/27/08 .. and managed to sell another 93+ books!!! So that brings my total to close to 400 books sold over a 17 day period (I was only there 4 of those days) and I believe I'm going to end up being THE TOP SELLER for the duration of the Big E!! If I didn't make the top seller, I will be very surprised ... and am sure I made the top three. What a wonderful feeling it is, to finally see the books that I've put my heart, soul and years of my life into finally getting "out there"!!! Mega thank you's go to those of you who took the time to stop and talk to me, and of course to those of you who actually bought one or more of the books!!! THANK YOU!!!
Also, infinite kudos to Debbie & Mike Kilday, the ENTIRE Capa BIG E Committee, and all those wonderful Connecticut Authors who are participating in the EXCELLENT and HUGELY SUCCESSFUL event this year!!!
Today is the first day of fall, so get out there and enjoy the cooler weather, make sure you ALWAYS have a book with you, and as always,
Hugs from me to all of you,