Thursday, September 29, 2011

Baltimore Book Festival in Review

Whew! It was an eventful and busy three days in Baltimore. So much so that I am just now recuperating. From celebrity speakers to a woman proudly wearing a shirt that read ‘Book Slut’, Baltimore had it all. I heard in the past Baltimore was the place to be but then again I have heard that one before and it turned out to be a mere fabrication. 
I love readers like this! Proud to be a Book Slut!

Day one the skies opened up and released a much needed downpour for the land but not so much something an exhibitor would appreciate, myself included.  Surprisingly enough it really didn’t stop the serious book buyer. Day two brought in hoards of patrons who were eager to buy to the extent I had to debate on losing out on sales by taking a small food break. Hunger eventually won. On day three it started off massive amounts of people then dwindled off around 4. Believe me I was not upset by it by any means. I was tired! 

Author Tiffany Flowers inspiring young minds

Throughout the hustle and bustle of this even I had the pleasure of meeting many aspiring authors. Some were a pleasure to be around the others, not so much. Note: If you are an author going to an exhibitors table to network please step the heck out the way when a paying customer comes by! I cannot believe how many authors thought it was okay to continue talking about the event, their sales (or lack thereof), how long they have been an author, how their publisher sucks, and on and on while I had eager buyers trying to look at my display and purchase a book. Most were friendly when I asked them to step to the side for a moment, but some must have fell off the wagon and bumped their head. I don’t really understand why. I along with author Tiffany Flowers (part of the Golden Literary Circle with me) was there to sell books. Yes, it is great to network but not to the existent in which it hampers my sales. Book events are not free and I would like to make my money back. One author in particular was so upset when asked to step to the side as she watched me sign a copy of Rise and Fall of a Track Star, it made me wonder was it her intent to come and block my sales in the first place. Sad as it may sound, yes, there are authors who get frustrated when they are not selling and will come try to block yours. I am not the blame for others lack of sales. I always come with a quality product and welcoming smile. Standing behind the table with your arms crossed and mean mug on your face will only cause patrons to run from you.

Now, I am not a celebrity junkie but I must admit when I thought I caught the side profile of Common, I almost had the urge to run the man down. Something about that kiss he gave Queen Latifah in the move Just Wright, made me fall in love with the man. Thankfully there was another aspiring author with a kind spirit to keep me in my place. Some people have a great heart and you can tell it upon first meeting them.  J. Scott, author of a Black Man, a White Man, and a Chinese Man was such a person. That is him standing with me below. I love running into fellow authors such as him. He bought a book, and then asked questions. He also stepped to the side to allow room for others in the tent.
 Me and J. Scott
 Wore out but still smiling

For you aspiring authors out there please keep this in mind. You must get out there and sell your books in order for people to know who you are. It has taken me three years for people to come looking for me. Now, I get people saying "I have seen this name before" "I saw you on the listing and had to come by". This is how I know what I am doing is working. On the other hand it is never okay to come over to a publishing table and mention how you have no intentions on ever promoting your book and that you expect us to do all of the work. I do remember names and have no problem informing the powers that be that you are not ready to be an author.

Selling books was my primary focus but I wasn’t missing out on opportunities to speak with librarians and the media. From what I had been told we had one of the best displays which is why people kept walking by taking pictures. The display brought them in and our conversation kept them intrigued. I even have some more offers to speak at middle and high schools. Overall I had a blast and look forward to next year. Now I can get some sleep and prepare for Collingswood, NJ this weekend!

Stay focused on your goals,
Omegia Keeys
Rise and Fall of a Track Star

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