Saturday, May 2, 2015
Here is my table from MenilFest 2015. Yes, I realize my tablecloth is a bit crooked. ;)
I set up my table and waited for the people to come, and boy did they come! It was a great turn out despite the weather. Even though it didn't rain till the very end of the day, the overcast sky, or rather UV rays, still gave me a sunburn! LOL! The ugly sky didn't keep book lovers of all ages from coming out to celebrate. I sold a total of 2 books all day long, but attending these book fests for me isn't about numbers. In fact, one of my coworkers always asks me how I did after such events, and when I tell him I only sold a few, he's comments about me not being aggressive enough. I'm not going to force people to buy my book or make them feel uncomfortable. It's about reaching out to people and meeting new people. It's fun to meet new people and talk about my books. I love reaching out to those shy people and just saying "hello". You can tell they want to run away, but then there are times they come over and talk for a while even if they don't buy. You never know...maybe they will eventually buy the book. More importantly, you probably made them smile.
I have to admit I was a little discouraged at this festival. This was my 4th festival ever. I didn't feel discouraged by the first 3 at all. I'm a nobody. No ones knows me or my books...yet. Hence, the reason to be making the rounds and attending the book festivals to promote my books. It all started off great. I mean 1, 2 books gone right off the bat. I thought, "Wow! This is going to go really well!" Then, nothing ALL day long! I had plenty of people listen to me talk about the book and like it and seem really interested in it. I had plenty of folks take my card. I had several people comment on the pictures on my table of Sully and Lucy(his dog) and the REAL Sully and Nana. I had even more people take my candy, 300 Dum Dum lollipops! (Random fact: The boy and I haven't quite finished them off yet. We have finished with the ones we actually like however....;)...) Well, I was placed next to an awesome author who has like a bajillion books that she published and did the graphic art on, and here I was with my one book. ONE vs. a BAJILLION???? Hmmmm.....I begin to get a little perturbed with the organizers(in my head)...Really? Why in the heck would you put me and my ONE and ONLY book next to this lady who has seriously at least 20+ children's books???? I can't compete with that! The more I thought about it, the more discouraged I got. The more I started hearing other people in my head. "Why aren't you aggressive enough?" "Well, are you smiling at the people? Are you talking to people?" "What did you wear?" "How did your presentation look?" On and on I went focusing on negative thoughts which I'm sure created negative energy. Not good. I seriously did the best I could do at that given event. I smiled. I connected with others. I gave my spiel about me and my books, my current one published and the one in process of being published. "Please feel free to take a card," I told people over and over. "You can also find me on Amazon." Again all the while I'm listening to the lady next to me give GREAT presentations on her books while silently begging them to step on over and buy mine, too. In between crowds of folks, we talked. She gave me some great tips about promoting my books. She was very sweet and helpful. I met her parents. I met my table mate and her family as they strolled around to my area on the grounds. I met a new author friend in person that I'd met on Facebook. It wasn't all in all a bad day. It was my attitude. It was me getting discouraged, thinking negatively, and not focusing on the big picture of what can be. I left earlier than planned because one of the organizers told us it looked like rain was coming so if we wanted to pack up and head out, that'd be ok. So I did. Throughout the week I kept thinking back to the festival. Why was it still bothering me and leaving a bad taste in my mouth? Since I am new at this author thing, I do try to learn something new from others, seasoned or not. That's when it hit me! I'm not sure of the organizers' reasoning for putting me beside her, but the reason I was placed beside her is actually quite simple. GOD WANTED ME TO LEARN FROM HER! He didn't place me beside her for me to feel discouraged or inadequate; He wanted me to LEARN from her! Since attending my GriefShare class at church, I've learned that things happen for a reason even if we don't understand why. God puts people in our lives for a reason. It's not a coincidence. Also, things happen in His time, not ours. That has been very difficult for me to comprehend because I am not a patient person. Regardless of genre, I don't feel like I'm in competition with other authors although I know I am. I want us ALL to succeed. We all had this dream to write. We all had an idea that sparked our careers, and we're doing it, so I want all of us to be able to fulfill that dream. Heck, I want everyone to be able to fulfill his or her dreams. You only get one chance at this life so I say make the best of it!
Ok...so what did I learn from this other author? I learned that I'm new. It's going to take time, a lot of time, to reach my goals. I have to make smaller, more realistic goals. I learned that I need to not set my expectations too high. Having a goal is great, but it needs to be realistic, attainable. I learned that I have what it takes to be an author, or I wouldn't be doing it. I need to do my best and be at my best while I'm out promoting my books and not comparing my sales to someone else. Success means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. I learned to listen to advice from others who are trying to help me even if they're not even aware of it. I got some really good tips about working schools and craft fairs from said author. I learned other ways to engage readers walking by instead of just handing out candy like it's Halloween and thinking that just because I give them their sugar fix they'll buy my book. I learned to just be myself and have fun! I think I took myself too seriously that day. I also learned that any new contact is still promoting my book, and more than likely, I've made a new fan/friend. It's not all about the numbers. It's about having a heart and a great love for reading and writing and for wanting to share that with others. I am learning that God is in control. His plan for me was made before I was even born. Whatever is to be will be so I might as well enjoy and turn my frown upside down!
I wasn't sure if I wanted to attend next year's MenilFest, but I did have a good time in spite of me getting discouraged. It was fun to meet all those new people and interact with them. I love to talk to the kids most of all and ask them if they like to read and/or write. I encourage them to go for their dreams. I loved watching the daughter of a couple who was there selling art I think. They were just two happy people in love with their active, lively, incredibly cute, blonde, curly-headed two year old. They took turns chasing her on the lawn. I loved watching them just be and be happy. They never got upset or fussed or seemed annoyed at how much they were having to chase her. I commented on my way out that she would probably sleep really well that night. The dad said she always has that much energy. WOW! To be that little and full of that much energy again....
So next year I am looking forward to being part of MenilFest again, this time with two books! I hope the organizers DO put me next to the same author again. I would love to learn more from her, God willing... :)