Tag Archives: book festivals

Decatur Book Festival Rocks

Well, it’s been a while I since I actually wrote a Blog post, so I thought this would be a good time to catch up. I won’t go into a lot of past stuff. Instead, I will start with this past weekend.

I drove down to Georgia for the Decatur Book Festival. For the fourth year I was fortunate enough to stay at Mary Cunningham’s house. Mary is the author of the acclaimed Cynthia’s Attic middle grade fantasy series. Staying at Mary’s house is like staying at one of the greatest B&B’s in the world. The house is lovely, the amenities are to die for, Mary makes the most awesome pasta salad, and her husband grills the most fabulous and awesome steaks ever anywhere in the world.

On Thursday Mary took me to her local writers’ group for an author event. I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation from M.L. Malcolm, author of HEART OF LIES at the Carrollton Cultural Arts Center (a LOVELY facility!) It was a really neat experience. Later that evening, the group went to dinner together at this lovely little restaurant called Little Hawaiian in downtown Carrollton. This was one of the BEST restaurants I have been to in a really long time. Tempura Shrimp with the own sauce and I had to stop myself from licking the little cup. For my main course I had the Hawaiian Noodle Bowl and I just cannot find words to describe it. WOW!!! Did I mention the bread and dipping sauce…sigh!

So brand new debut author Gale Borger from Wisconsin flew in for the festival and stayed at Mary’s house as well. We had such a great time. Gale’s first book, a humorous mystery called TOTALLY BUZZED is just great. She did such an awesome job selling to the adoring potential fans who visited our booth. I actually think she might be a natural.

Saturday at the festival Nick Valentino joined us. He was actually in town for DragonCon in Atlanta, but couldn’t resist seeing me. LOL I really was quite exhausted from having to sell Nick’s book (THOMAS RILEY). It almost got monotonous (just kidding—Nick is a sales dynamo and he has become somewhat of a rock star.) So, we are all standing around with almost nothing to do when romance author Betty Hudson comes flitting (she is just too darn cute) into our booth with a copy of her latest romance SLEEPING BOOTY in her hand. She was tickled to bits as she explains that after meeting Nick at the South Carolina Book Festival she was so taken that she simply HAD to write Nick and his book into her contemporary pirate novel. It was such a cool thing to watch as Nick reacted t her news.

And as if that wasn’t enough to keep Nick’s feet five feet off the ground, another gal strolls into the booth and asks Nick to sign her Kindle…right beneath her autograph from Charlaine Harris. You can actually find the video on Nick’s Blog.

So with all of the great things happening, you have to figure that there would be some not so good. The incidents were few, but pretty major for me.

First, let me thank the young teen boy who caught me and prevented me from cracking my head open as I fell down three marble steps when some old guy’s dog ran under my foot as I was stepping up. Here’s a hand gesture for the old guy who then turned around and snapped, “Ex-scuse me!” and stomped off like I had done something to him. JERK!

So then on Sunday I am walking back to the booth after visiting the local bookstores, The Little Shop of Stories, and I pass by this pub with tables outside. There are five guys (four White and one Mexican-I find this relevant) sitting there and one of the White guys says, and I quote, “Maybe if we could get all the niggers and Muslims together in that mosque at ground zero we could just blow it up and get rid of them all at once.”

To say I was flabbergasted would be an understatement. I just stopped, turned to them and said, “REALLY? Welcome to fucking American, you moron!” Come on people, do you really need to talk like that in public? If you want to be stupid, do it in your own space and don’t infect the rest of us your stupidity!!

So, as Sunday came close to an end, I was sitting in the booth ringing up a credit card sale and Sam Morton (author of the YA novel BETRAYED) walks up, stops, and with a serious look on his face he says, “You know, when you get in the bathroom and have to go really bad is NOT the time to discover you have your underwear on backwards.” I laughed so hard I snorted, like four or five times. I honestly didn’t think I could stop laughing. And bless his heart, his day didn’t get any better. He texted me later to tell me he had made it 50 miles out of Decatur , headed home, and he had a blow out and had been waiting for the repair truck for over an hour, and guess what…he had to pee. But he was confident that as soon as he dug his thingy out of his backward drawers the truck would arrive with spotlight glaring and lights flashing.

I think, though, that I can say that the very best part of the entire trip was watching my authors sell several hundred books to eager readers, readers of all ages. I have the most super duper authors in the world.

I want to thank the authors who attended for all their support and hard work.

Diana Black (WOOF: Women Only Over 50)

Gale Borger (Totally Buzzed)

Mary Cunningham (The Missing Locket, The Magic Medallion, Curse of the Bayou, The Magician’s Castle and WOOF: Women Only Over 50)

Sam Morton (DisaVowed, Betrayed)

Nick Valentino (Thomas Riley)

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A Publisher’s Rant

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Okay, I have to go on record with this one. We spent the day ( a very successful day) at the South Carolina Book Festival in Columbia, SC.

For the entire day we had a steady stream of customers in our booth. There was not a time at any point during the day that we were not selling a book. It was tremendous. Or as our cute little waitress at Longhorn said, it was “grand.”

So what could possibly be wrong with this? Well, it’s other writers. I would like to point out a few simple guidelines or ettiquette rules to consider if you are a writer heading out to an event.

1. If you are an aspiring author and you want to meet with a publisher, contact them prior to the event and set an appointment. If a publisher is at an event they are probably there to sell books. When you walk up unannounced and go into your whole sales pitch for your book it is distracting and honestly it is very rude for those who are there to shop or who have made appointments.

At Echelon we do work on a referral system and we do tell you to meet us at events and we mean it, but there is a proper way to do it. Put together a very small packet, honestly I am good with a business card with contact info and a one or two line brief about your story. Drop it off and move on. If a publishing rep or author is trying to tansact business GO AWAY. Do not stand their and contiue talking. Chances ar they won’t be rude to you, but don’t make them tell you to go away.

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2. If you are a writer and you have a friend who is being featured at an event or a book signing, do NOT monopolize that author’s time. When an author goes to an event they have probably paid to be there and their main goal is to sell books. If you stand at the front of the booth constantly talking to the author who is trying to sell books you are inhibiting their ability to effectively sell books and give the readers and actual customers the attention they deserve. If you DO stop to talk and feel the need to chat, at least make it worth the author’s while and BUY THEIR BOOK!

This has become a major peeve of mine and I see it almost every event I go to. If you have no intention of buying a book, MOVE ON and give the real customers some room. If you want to chat with an old friend, call them on the phone or take them to lunch. Don’t rob them of the opportunity to increase their sales and recoup the money they have invested to be at an event.

3. Support your fellow authors. You know what it is like. If you have books to sell, you know how valuable time is. If you want someone to buy your book you have got to be willing to buy their book. Don’t make excuses. Either buy it, or move on. Period

4. Finally. When you go to visit a friend at an event, book signing, festival, whatever, DO NOT slip your promo material onto their table. If you did not pay for that space, it is NOT your space to promote in. At almost EVERY event I go to I throw away dozens of pieces of material that authors who have come to see a friend or even authors who have come to give me submission materials have left behind with hopes that they can get some free promo exposure.

I’m telling you, if you tell me you want to submit and then infiltrate the space paid for by or for my authors, to try and promote your other works,  I will NOT publish you. I will also not like you.

These are just common sense, and yet more times than not this is what happens. Please be courteous to the rights and opportunities of your friends and fellow authors.

Okay, I am done. I apologize for this rant, but after today, I really felt this needed to be said. Want to buy books? Come and see us. Want to look at our books and see if maybe you might be interestd in something, come on over. Want to chat and catch up with someone you have not called in a year. Do it on Monday after the event.

I love to meet authors, but not at the expense of sales and my authors’ rights.

Karen Syed…wearing her publisher hat…