Monday, June 27, 2011

Sisters in Crime at the ALA convention in New Orleans

I had the pleasure of working the table two hours for Sisters in Crime at the American Library Association convention in New Orleans last week. I basically spoke to people from all over the country, tried to get them to join Sisters in Crime, told them to swipe their card to enter giveaways--one of which my book was in, as was Marilyn's Angel Lost--and then asked them if they liked mysteries. If they said yes, I handed them my bookmark and told them that was the series I wrote, a local author based in New Orleans.

Many of the folks I spoke to asked about buying my book. If I would have had them with me to sell, I'm sure I could have. But the Sisters In Crime table wasn't about promoting myself, although they were happy to let me take advantage of the extra attention to talk about my book.

There were 12,000 librarians at this convention. I met librarians, teachers, readers, local and from all over the U.S.. I also got to meet a few better-known authors, and people whose names I've read on DorothyL but have never seen before. It was a very good experience, for only two hours of my time. I would have worked more, but my kids had been out of town with my sister for a week and were already back, and I had a ton of work-work to do, that I'm still doing.

There were booths of publishers, promoters, computer software companies, and even someone selling clothes and jewelry. The booth next to ours was an author on her own, and I kept picturing my name on one of those booths.

Realizing I don't think I could sustain the interest of enough people for several days at a booth alone, I started picturing Oak Tree Press's name on the booth, with several authors selling their books, handing out merchandise, etc.. The author booths, especially where books were being signed or promotion items were being given away, seemed to attract a lot of attention.

I was told the cost of the smallest booth is $2000.00. There seemed to be tables along the wall that might have had a lower price, and I was trying to calculate in my head how many books somebody would have to sell to make any money paying that kind of green for a weekend. But then, if a group of writers put in together and put together a schedule, it could work out to be significantly less expensive.

Of course, it was easy for me to show up this year because it was in my hometown, and working the booth I didn't have to pay to register but got to stay as long as I wanted. SinC sent the promotional stuff and set-up gear to me for the few weeks before the convention, and I brought it to the Morial Convention Center the first day, and got to see the process in action, as they were setting up and the trucks were rolling out furniture and moving things around.

Most of the people I met were very nice and gracious, especially Mary Boone and Dorisann Norris. The other writers I met were mostly personable, especially the local ones I hadn't met before. There were a few here and there with a snooty nose in the air, but if they didn't warm up to me, they pretended like they did so I would leave them alone. You can't come to my city and ignore my southern charm, can you?

Whether I won them over or not, I enjoyed the convention and wished I could have stayed longer. I think next year it's in Chicago, a long way from home. I did find out that a big book festival in Baton Rouge, about an hour from my house, is coming back in October after a year off. The woman I spoke to said a lot of writers rent tables to sell their books, and that a lot of the same writers come back each year, making me believe it's worth the time and money to do it. And October is beautiful down here, not quite as hot and muggy as most of the year, but not cold and wet either. (Cold=anything less than 60.)

So I met a lot of people, hopefully made a few connections and sold a few books when those people get back home, learned a lot, and the only bad thing, paid $3.00 for a small paper cup of Coke. Other than the ripoff at the concession stand, it was a lot of fun and something I hope to do again one day.

Holli Castillo
Gumbo Justice
Jambalaya Justice coming July 2011


Stephen L. Brayton said...

Wow! $2000? That'd be a lot to put out for a small author, even if he went in with a few. You'd have to look at the potential benefits.

jack59 said...

I am so pleased you enjoyed the experience; not so sure next year if the venue remains as Chicago, a tender southern girl like you might get blown away in those winds.
Nice post Sunny you are doing a great job.

Jean Henry Mead said...

What a great exprience! (I love New Orleans.) And an Oak Tree booth is a terrific idea, rotating writers.

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