Author Fairs - Unexpected Benefits: Part 1

I’ve hit several gratifying, book high points this year, coinciding with the publication of novel #two in my Southern California Mystery series.
Attending writers’ conferences, bookfests, libraries, bookstores, Noir at the Bar and even co-leading a workshop at a conference as a newbie – all were bonuses. It was also my first time giving a presentation, by my lonesome, in front of a large audience. I loved every moment. But (and this is a good ‘but’), I also experienced some marvelous surprises…at author fairs.

I’d heard a few complaints from more seasoned writers that author fairs were time wasters. One successful, how-to book author even remarked, “A fair is a humbling experience.” And he didn’t mean in a good way. Another writer vowed never to attend a fair again, saying she didn’t sell enough books. But aren’t there other benefits as well?

Last spring, I learned that one of my publishers was on the cusp of creating a new division just for picture books. They sent an email to their existing authors inviting submissions if any had picture books fully ready to roll out. The new unit wouldn’t be open to outside authors until 2019. What do ya know? I happened to have a picture book with text ready, but no illustrations. Not a problem. I had a friend who knew a professional illustrator. Attempts to connect us were made, but no luck. I put aside the picture book idea and tended to my next novel.

Two months later, I had the pleasure of appearing at an author fair on the Central Coast of California. It was my first appearance at this venue. I wasn’t sure where to go or what to expect. I randomly selected a table and organized my books. While I waited for the fair to open, I thumbed through author books at surrounding tables. That’s when the light bulb burned brightly over my head (don’t you love when that happens?). The author sitting next to me had indie-published a picture book. The illustrations were fantastic. Bold, bright and fun. I suggested she send her book to my publisher, figuring they might want to hire her as an illustrator.

Fast forward. Being a mystery author, I like suspense, which means more details will be unspooled in the next installment of this blog. Until then, Happy Halloween!

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