I attended my first in-person author event last month: Boston Book Festival 2021. It was the first event of its kind in my home town of Boston, Lincolnshire and it was wonderful to meet so many local authors, illustrators and readers. The weekend of 17th-19th September was packed with events featuring authors such as Michael Morpurgo, Benjamin Zephaniah, Aisha Busby, Karen Maitland, Tim Atkinson, and more.
I had a fantastic time at the free “meet and greet” event at Boston Guildhall. My sister (and unofficial marketing manager) Shana-Lee came to help out even though it was only a week before her wedding! We gave out lots of my new bookmarks, sold out of Fairytale Dragons and several copies of Masquerade: Oddly Suited.
But, most importantly, I made some new connections with local readers and authors. I had some lovely conversations with fellow sci-fi and fantasy fans, many of whom signed up for my email newsletter. It was great to meet you. Thank you for your interest in my work and your words of encouragement.
Meeting Local Authors
I was pleasantly surprised to see how many authors there are in my local area. Here are some of the writers and illustrators I talked to that weekend:
- We enjoyed the event at the library for Mor-al-Lee Island Presents books. The childrens book series is written by Sav Sav and illustrated by our good friend Warwick Eede, who was also selling his brand new fantasy-Western comic, Human Beings.
- I met fantasy author Matthew Barnes, who was very friendly and helpful. I am currently reading his fantasy novel The Maelstrom and will be posting my review soon.
- Our dear friend Richard Anderson was selling his geography quiz book, Quiz of the World!
- Former senior police detective Stuart Gibbon was advertising his business, GIB Consultancy, which provides a consultancy service to writers.
- It was a pleasure to meet the lovely Lorna Hunting, who has just released her historical romance novel, New Beginnings on Vancouver Island. Check out Lorna’s review of Boston Book Festival.
- I was so impressed by young author Edvin Zuckovs, who has self-published his own novel, Young Life while still at secondary school!
What Went Well
I had quite a lot of interest in my stall, and I put that down to a combination of these things, which worked well for me:
- I remained standing most of the time instead of sitting behind the desk.
- I smiled a lot and approached people to introduce myself.
- My book-print dress was a great conversation starter.
- I had a bright, galaxy print tablecloth and props such as a dragon mask which caught people’s attention.
- I had a form for people to sign up to my newsletter, which many people signed up to.
- I gave out bookmarks (my business cards) and sweets.
- I had signs with QR codes so people could purchase my books from Amazon if they wanted to.
- I took the time to chat to people about their interests instead of trying a “sales pitch”.
- I had a Square reader so I could take card payments.
- The stall was (amazingly) free, which meant I made a bigger profit.
- I offered to sign any books puchased.
- I took photos with a few authors and readers.
- I had a good spot near the entrance of the venue, which made it easier to greet people coming in.
- My sister was a great help! She started conversations with people when I was occupied, bought me lunch and manned the stall while I met other authors.
- The event organisers and venue hosts were very friendly and helpful.
What Could Have Been Better
Here are a few things that I learned from my first author event which I’ll take on board for next time:
- I’ll bring a few more paperbacks to avoid running out.
- I’ll take more photos of readers with me and my books.
- I’ll spend longer advertising the event on social media and with posters, flyers, etc.
- A venue in the centre of town would attract more footfall.
- Larger posters and banners to advertise the event would be more noticable.
- I’ll consider hosting a Q & A or workshop next time.
- Next time, I’ll make sure I purchase tickets to as many of the other author events as I can!
Overall, I had a brilliant time at Boston Book Festival and it exceeded my expectations. I am very grateful to the hosts who did such an amazing job of organising the event. Please follow them on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for news about future events. I think next year’s event will be even bigger and better!