Wow. It’s been sooo long since we’ve had a No Whining Wednesday episode! I have officially fallen off. But, I’m back. If you are new to this blog be sure to click here to learn more about what NWW is all about.
I don’t open up much on social media. Not that I am hiding anything. It is just that social media, with a few exceptions, is not real. It is virtual reality. A place people go to hide their flaws, criticize others, and pretend that their lives are great. This is annoying and I find myself not wanting to be involved except in sharing my writing. I log in, post up and log off. Sometimes (every other month), I deactivate my Facebook account completely. Social media is good for business but it is an energy exchange like everything else. I have to cut it off like I cut off toxic energy. I have limited my use to business-related posts only with some motivation thrown in there. Today, I will make an exception and let you in, briefly, on what has been going on with me. I call this, “It is Easier to Walk When It’s Not Raining.”
For a few months, I have not been feeling well. I do not mean physically. I mean emotionally. I have felt unmotivated and uninspired. I had no real reason to feel this way. No one spoke badly of me (not to my face anyway lbs) and I have had no shortage of work. Instead, more opportunities came my way, but it seemed the more events I attended and the more work I did, the less excited I felt. I did not feel unexcited completely. I was and am thankful for the opportunities that come to me. I was just not over the top and I know I should have been. I know I should be. So, what gives?
Part of this reason is the lack of support I have received. This is only a small part (I know it is much deeper than this), but it is a part. As I reflected on myself and my work, it seemed the more work I did, the less support I received. Despite these feelings, I continued to book work, plan for school and post up about my events. I continued to send emails and update my socials. I continued to do this not to deny my feelings. Nothing goes away just because you ignore it. We must address things. We must address feelings. Energy/Spirits/Vibes must be rebuked, removed, accessed. I continued because when the sun is shining (metaphorically and literally), and the birds are chirping and the sidewalk is clear of obstacles it is much easier to walk. You can circle the block while humming your favorite tune and walk at your own pace. But when it rains, everything changes.
Walking in the rain is easier if you are prepared. If you have an umbrella or raincoat, boots, and good windshield wipers. But your vision is still blurry compared to when it is not raining and you will still have to walk or drive slower than usual. There is also the fear of being struck by lightning, trees crashing into homes and cars, and other factors we must consider during a serious storm.
When we are going through our most difficult times, we want to stop. I have wanted to stop tons of times these past few months. But we shouldn’t stop because these are the most important times. These times, when things are not going well and we feel down, are the times when we are being strengthened. These are the times when we grow the most. Anyone can drive or walk when it’s nice outside and nothing is wrong but not everyone can navigate a storm.
(Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying you have to be “fake positive,” when you are not feeling it. I am more so talking about not giving up when you come in contact with a bad storm in your life).
If you notice something beautiful happens after a good rain. Everything blossoms. The grass is greener, the leaves on the trees are fuller, and if you planted something, watch out! That something will grow tremendously. Therefore, instead of stopping when things are bad we should just keep going. We are not falling apart. As painful as it is, we are growing.We are being prepared, positioned, aligned.
If you have ever felt how I have felt, please do not stop. Just keep at it. Keep doing what you are doing. Be patient with yourself and have faith that your purpose will be revealed in time. It is always easier to walk when it’s not raining. As the saying goes, “everyone solid until put in hot water,” (Unknown).
It is the storms that ultimately reveal our strengths. From our level of preparation to our discipline and resolve. It is the storms that cultivate something in us and that prepares us for the next level.
I enjoy networking with readers, other authors and business people present at conferences and festivals. One of the many ways I have access to these opportunities is through vending. Today, I would like to share a few of the pros and cons of author vending.
What is author vending?
To put it simply, author vending is when authors partner with an organization to reserve a space where they can sell their books/services/products, usually at a book festival or conference. Vending is not new and is something other businesses do all the time. The benefits of vending are numerous but there can also be some challenges for Independent Authors. As usual, I base this on my own experience which may very well differ from other authors.
Con: Financial Risk
“Consider the benefits and risks to your business when deciding to exhibit your product or service. These will be different for each event. Choosing the wrong trade show to exhibit your business’s products or services can result in displaying to the wrong audience. Poor promotion can mean the costs of attending the trade show outweigh any revenue you gain.” – Business Queensland
When you are a vendor, it means you have paid to reserve a table at an event where you will sell your books/products/services. Sometimes these costs can be very expensive. The authors must be careful not to “overpay to play.” I’ve seen tables costs as much as $600. This money could easily go toward good editing instead or the publishing of another book entirely. Authors should consider that not only will they reserve a table, but they will also buy books and author swag for the table and travel to the event. Before saying yes to vending, consider the financial benefits and potential challenges. Ask:
Do I have enough funds to cover books, attendance, display and other associated costs
Have I worked out how many prospects and readers I will need to obtain to generate a return on my investment
Have I researched/visited/asked questions about the event at which I am contemplating exhibiting and am I confident that a suitable number of people will attend
Have I worked out a way to capture people’s attention (*This is important. I see a lot of authors at expos looking down at their phones or just looking bored. They sit at the table for the entire time and rarely communicate with the people walking by. Then, at the conclusion, these same authors are upset because they sold no books. The people are not just going to come to you. Chances are you are not famous and no one owes you a thing. Stop being lazy, get up, and represent yourself.
Any author who wishes to be a vendor must be sure to research the event, understand what is included in the package, and know what they are looking to gain from the experience. If the goal is only to sell books, the author(s) should consider hosting something at their local library where the table is free or collaborating with other authors to cover the price of the table.
The primary purpose of vending (as I have found it) is the chance to network and get your name out there. It is a discoverability strategy. While an author can sell books, how many books are sold depends on the strength of that author’s network. More on that on the next con point.
Pro: Networking Opportunity
“Face-to-face communication builds the most memorable brand awareness. Last year our expos had hundreds of people walk through the door. Expos centralize a local audience that will be most receptive and ready to learn. This might be a rare occurrence for your industry depending on where you are geographically. You’ll have an opportunity to connect with new people and reconnect with those already invested in your brand.” – Peter O’Donnell, 4 Key Benefits of Becoming a Vendor
One of the major benefits of being an author vendor is the chance to network with individuals you probably would not have met or had the chance to speak with before. It is a chance to get your name out there in the public and expose your brand to people face-to-face. Last year, I spoke with the owner of Acapella Books in Atlanta when I was shopping my books around bookstores. First, he denied stocking my book, but he told me why and while it hurt my ego, I had to listen to sound advice:
“Your book will only get lost among the hundreds of celebrity authors’ books in the store. The best thing you can do right now is to get your name out there. Are you attending the Decatur Book Festival?”
I told him I was. I wasn’t a vendor, but I would be in attendance. He said good and to start there. He told me to “focus on building your platform and getting your name out there.”
Conferences and Book Festivals attract an array of media depending on the host of the event. You have the potential to meet editors, agents, publishers, celebrity authors and corporate influencers.
I don’t care what the experts say, online will never be as good as face-to-face contact and connection. Giving your readers a chance to meet you in person adds a special kind of value. “People see the truth in you through your actions, personality, and in how genuine you are with them.” (Greg Dabbs, Business Development Manager) They get to hear your voice, see your face outside of photos, ask questions, give advice, laugh and get to know you more personally.
The chances of pitching are significantly higher when you position yourself to be present at these events. You get to practice your sales pitch, research competition and increase the chances of collaboration opportunities. It is not all about money. At a decent rate vending can be the boost you need to jump-start your business. Financial investment in yourself is something you will need to consider in your career at some point anyway. Whether that is vending at a notable event or paying for professional author photos, it is something you will need to do at some point.
It is about showing up and being an author vendor is one of the easiest ways to show up, to get out and connect with people.
Con: Difficult for New/Unknown Indie Authors
Author vending is the opportunity for you to connect with your readers. It gives them the chance to meet with you face-to-face, to take pictures with you, to buy paperback copies of your books, or to have books signed they already bought. But it could be even more challenging for new/unknown Indie Authors.
“No one will come to your book reading/signing unless you are already famous. The packed author readings on the news are only packed because the author is already very well known. Book readings at bookstores are among the worst uses of time for a new author.” – Writing Well
While I don’t believe you have to be famous to do a book signing/reading for people to support you (I do well at signings and I am certainly no one famous), there is some truth in this quote. While the chances of people buying are higher in person because physical presence increases trust, authors who have multiple books out and who have already built a strong platform and audience before vending will do much better. People will already know who they are, and readers will come out to support them.
Paying money to reserve a table at an author event when you are a new author no one knows, when you have done no work to promote the event to your audience or where you have not built an audience will be like posting your Amazon buy link on social media hoping people will take a chance on an unknown author. While some people will (I usually do but I’m nice like that 🙂 ) this kind of “Hope Marketing,” rarely works. Vending is usually not free, and the money is usually nonrefundable.
Before you spend money on reserving a table, focus on publishing more books and developing a relationship with your readers so that when you do an event people will come out to support you. Now do not misunderstand me, a first-time author can certainly do well at signings and events but only because that author already have people who are willing to support him/her from previous works.
Pro: Invitations for More Work
I read somewhere that “the reward for a job well done is the opportunity to do more,” (Dr.Jonas Salk). The biggest benefit to author vending is that eventually, you will not have to look for opportunities. Opportunities will find you. It was at the Atlanta African American Book Festival that I was asked to participate in Velvet Voices, The Velvet Note Jazz club’s new and first Author/Word event. People will remember you and reach out to you for other projects. They may even ask you to be a vendor at another event. This is significant because once people reach out to you, the ball is in your court. You get to decide the terms of your acceptance. Can your table be free of cost/discounted? Can they pay you to speak? Can they purchase your ticket if the place is not in your home city/state? What is it you require for your presence? The idea here is to one day graduate from vending alone to being requested and paid to speak as well.
This is the beginnings of earning the passive income you want to help to leverage the income from your book royalties. These days, you need the additional income that comes from other streams of income related to your writing.
You may not think people are paying attention, but they are. Author vending is a great way to give a very good first-person impression that can lead to an even bigger opportunity and business partnership.
Pro/Con – Organizer / Host
It is important to ask, who is the organizer/host? The person(s) behind the event is a big deal. You want to make sure the organization or cause is something you can get behind. Vending is a big deal these days and it shouldn’t escape authors that it is also a way for businesses and organizations to make money. Choosing to be a vendor is not just about meeting new people and exposing your business, it is also about investment. Vending is an investment in yourself and an investment in the company or organization hosting the event.
The people behind the event can make this a Pro if the organization is well organized, grounded, relatively known and actively promoting the event and its participants.
The people behind the event can make this a Con if the event host is unorganized, the event is poorly promoted (bad for you if you paid for a table and are looking to turn a profit) and does little to nothing to promote the event and its participants.
It is not about jumping on every so-called opportunity available to authors. It is about being strategic and intentional with every decision you make regarding your book business.
When you are asked, invited or when you take part in a vending opportunity, be sure you connect with an organization that is relatable to the goals and the purpose you have set for yourself, that the vision of the organization is something you can support and rally behind and that they will work just as hard for you as you intend to work for them. Vending is a partnership and partnerships are not one-way streets. Or at least they shouldn’t be.
Can be costly
Not a wise investment for new authors with no audience
Can be hectic and stressful (requires a lot of work)
Can be overwhelming
Can sometimes go downhill
Every marketing platform has advantages and disadvantages. Don’t let the disadvantages of author vending discourage you from participating in exhibitions and reaping the benefits of it. Just do your research first.
Exposure to a wider set of audience
Creates brand awareness
Promotes brand loyalty
Helps in Networking
I am vending at this year’s 4th Annual MogulCon event on October 26, 2019, from 9:00a – 3:00p at the Atlanta Marriott Perimeter Center. I would love to meet you there. The purpose of the MogulCon women’s business conference is to educate and assist diverse businesses on how to connect and position themselves in the marketplace. The goal is to create economic opportunities and position them with corporations and large companies to help them grow and scale. Come out and meet successful entrepreneurs and corporate influencers when you register for the 3-day event taking place October 24-26th. (I’ll see you on the 26th!)
School is back and so is Introduce Yourself! We’ll be kicking things off with the introduction of more authors on Monday, September 2, 2019. Interviews are free and publish every Monday. If you are an author or know of authors in need of more exposure and promotion, be sure to send them over! Below is a brief description of what this series is about. To learn more (including how to sign up) visit the Introduce Yourself Author Interview page here.
Introduce Yourself is a promotional opportunity for new authors I started back in 2016, hosted on The PBS Blog. It is an interview conducted by Yecheilyah (that’s me) with questions specifically tailored to helping us to get to know you better. Inspired by a song introduced in a children’s bible study class I helped coordinate, the song is meant to “break the ice.” With this feature, I hope to introduce new authors to my audience for an opportunity to learn more about them and their work. They say teamwork makes the dream work and I hope to do my part to introduce to the world little known authors and to assist in making these authors dreams come true.
Every living thing wants to be loved
We need it like the lyrics in our throats when the beat drops
on our favorite song
like the natural way our bones jump
and our legs twitch
and our hands move about
and we dance
Every living thing needs to be loved
like dandelions in a field trying to convince the world
that they are not just weeds
We hope someone will care enough to watch over us
And not transgress our boundaries
Won’t severe our flowers from their roots
Won’t pluck our souls
From its skin
We do not need to be picked and fussed over
We hope only, to be loved
To be cared about while breath
Still feeds our lungs
Hoping someone will love us intentionally
Like the giggles of a child
Free, raw, and innocent
Hope to be as valuable as the swell
Of a woman’s womb
and the protruding belly that everyone wants to touch,
but no one does without permission
The delicate miracle we all want to protect
and we hope to be miracles too
a surprising welcome worthy of protection
because every living thing
wants to be loved
As I have said before, I hope to use my writing as an underground railroad leading us back to spiritual freedom and away from mental bondage. If people can’t be liberated in their own lives, I hope my books can provide a roadmap. May Morrison RIP and may we step up. The Legends are gone and it is our time now to make an impact. It is our time. What will we do with it?
Keep Yourself Full, my first Non-Fiction spiritual handbook for healing the hurting, lifting the fallen, and restoring the broken is available now on Amazon in ebook. It will be available as a paperback between tonight and tomorrow. Check back to this post. I will edit it to let you know it’s available in paperback. Thanks in advance for your time, attention, and support. (It is still 99cents until the end of today. Hurry before the ebook price rises!)
If you know me for my fiction work, I have some exciting new material coming. However, I do hope you will enjoy this book. It is my first Non-Fiction piece, and I am delighted to share it with you. As always, I hope that you will finish the read feeling full and empowered.
Keep Yourself Full is a spiritual handbook that focuses on our return to self-love. It is a reminder that self-care nourishes the quality of our lives and makes us fit to be of service to others. Through my testimony, I give examples of how we self-abuse and how that differs from self-love, why it is essential not to take things so personally, why we must establish and enforce healthy boundaries, and how assumptions kill relationships. We learn that by investing in our well-being spiritually, physically, mentally, and professionally, we can be of service fully to others. We cannot ignore that we treat others how we feel about ourselves. When we realize that what we do to others, we are equally doing to ourselves, we can use this awareness to heal. By treating ourselves better, we treat others better. Keep Yourself Full is about keeping ourselves filled with love and all that is good, so we are overflowing with enough to share with everyone else.
Since 2015, The Velvet Note has consistently been named one of the best Jazz Clubs in Georgia, and I have the honor of headlining its first Author/Word event. “Velvet Voices,” is a thought-provoking series of presentations by authors, historians and spoken-word artists and premiers on Wednesday, August 21, 2019, in Alpharetta, Georgia from 7:00-9:30p. The series will run from 8/21 through 9/25, and I am the opener for the first show reading excerpts from my Historical Fiction novel Renaissance: The Nora White Story. Some fantastic poets will bless the mic, and it is also an open mic for attendees.
Enjoy thought provoking discussion in an award-winning, beautifully-appointed listening room. I will have copies of Renaissance, and I am Soul on hand to sign. If this series does well, The Velvet Note will incorporate it into its regular program. Get your tickets NOW and let’s make history!!