Last Saturday I went to my first PAYA event, in West Chester, PA. I had been wanting to go to this event for three years, and this year I finally got to go. Yay!
First of all, it was really fun. Only about an hour on the road, and I got to see lots of friends that I usually don’t get to see in 3-D all that often, like Charlotte Bennardo, and Cyn Balog, and I even ran across Kit Grindstaff, who I wasn’t expecting to see. I also met some new people, like Jennifer Armentrout — who, by the way is a total hoot! Children’s Book World was there, selling the books, and so all I had to do show up and smile and sign books.
I didn’t sign a single book. And that’s okay.
Many people, when they dream of becoming writers, often imagine their lives being full of glamour–worldwide book tours, TV interviews, people lining up to get their autograph. The reality is almost always different. I’ve long ago since stopped letting such things hurt my ego. This was a new geographical area for me, a new event, and being with small presses I have to do a lot of grass-roots promotion. It was one of my goals this year to get to new places, meet new people, all the while keeping my existing audience happy and engaged.
So I made the best of what I had. There were a couple of authors there who had a huge long line for signing. Like Jennifer. And I sat next to Jennifer, and chatted up the people who were waiting in line for her. I handed almost all of them one of my promotional lip balms, which most were excited to get, because it’s a useful thing. It’s different. And so when they read it, they looked at my postcards. And while they were waiting for Jennifer, they read about my stuff. I DID sign a couple of those for people, and two canvas bags for these awesome fans who were getting all the author’s signatures on them, which I thought was clever.
I also met a woman who runs a fantasy blog, and another who works at a bookstore near the event where Rick Riordan and mythology books are big sellers. Which may get me a guest blog or another book signing down the road. So the event was worth going to, not even though I didn’t get any sales that day, those people had my name put into their ear. And their pocket ;).
And I always recommend multi-author events for new authors, because of this very reason. Even if YOU don’t have a huge fan base, you can pool your fans with those of other, more well-known authors and get your name and titles out to more people than you would otherwise.
Thanks to Skyanne Fisher, who organized the event, and all the helpers who were there. It was super fun and I hope to come back again next year!