Saturday, I attended another live book signing event, the inaugural Atlanta African American Book Festival. It was not my first signing but it was my first festival. Here are some things I learned.
Spend Modestly on Your Decor
I saw many beautiful, grand banners and signs at the festival. The authors did not come to play ya’ll. They DID that. I couldn’t stop smiling. Of course, my main focus was on my table but I wouldn’t be EC if I didn’t observe the environment around me, if I didn’t seek out a learning opportunity.
I noticed that the tables that were neat but modest sold at the same rate as the tables that were elaborate and fascinating. While captivating, without the personal appeal of the author talking and engaging with the people, the large banners and signs didn’t add anything extra far as I could tell. Not to mention that many of these banners are very costly. I took this lesson from it:
Spend modestly on decor. It’s nice to go big (go big or go home right? Lol) BUT, if you can’t afford it, don’t overthink it.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money to attend a live event. I got lots of comments on this poster:
I got it made at Walmart for less than $20. You don’t have to have a boring table but you don’t have to spend a fortune. Between Walmart, Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby and, surprisingly, Ross Dress for Less (go in the area with all the household stuff, usually in the back…you’re welcome) you can find some expensive-looking stuff that’s actually pretty cheap. Also, don’t forget that you are a big part of the experience. You are the star. Without you, it’s just expensive plastic. I didn’t even get to use my card-reader and no one paid much attention to the bookmarks. I am not saying to have these things is wrong. There are some very basics (like a card-reader and apparently that cash app is hot) you must have at a live event. I am saying not to stress out if your table isn’t grand.
Don’t Overcharge Your Readers
I was surprised to discover many books in the $20 range. For non-celebrity Indie Authors people never heard of, I thought this was a bit much. Personally, I wouldn’t charge over $10 for a copy of my book at an event. I say this not to indicate you should just give your work away, but I think it’s a good idea to give your readers the exclusive by offering them books at a price lower than if they had to pay for shipping. By showing up readers can purchase a discounted copy of some of their favorite books of yours in paperback. They have probably traveled to see you and you probably bought your books in bulk at a discount anyway and you don’t have to ship the book to them. I think that’s deserving of the people who choose to support you. People may pay $20 for a book at a celebrity signing or for a book direct from Amazon or your author website, possibly, but I think it’s a good idea to give readers something special at signings.
Live in the Moment
I did something different this time around. I didn’t post images of the event until I got back to the house. I didn’t live stream or rush to upload anything. I enjoyed the moment laughing with my husband and friend, talking to the authors and guests and taking pictures. We are so caught up in “Live Streaming” our lives these days so that other people can “see us” “in” the moment that we forget to enjoy the moment for ourselves. I had a much more enjoyable time selling books, practicing my pitch, mingling with guests and passing out my business cards than I would have trying to add hashtags to an Instagram post as someone walks past my table, buying nothing because my head is down. Personally, I attend live events because I enjoy networking with the people and creating memories I can look back on in pictures, not because I think I must. We only have one life to live and I want my children and grandchildren to look back on these pictures as proof that they can do anything they want to do if they only believe they can.
View all the festival pics plus more on my author website here.
TODAY I’D LIKE TO EXTEND A WARM WELCOME TO BALROOP SINGH. WELCOME TO THE PBS BLOG! LET’S GET STARTED.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Balroop Singh. ‘Bal’ means strength and ‘roop’ means beauty. My maiden name was Balroop Bal, which changed after marriage, as the tradition goes, to change the surname. I chose Singh, which is a common middle name in the Northern region of India. ‘Singh’ was adopted by tenth Sikh guru who baptized his followers as “real Sikhs”. Derived from the Sanskrit word for lion, it was adopted as a title by warriors in India and mandated by Guru Gobind Singh for all Sikhs. It was later adopted by several castes and communities.
I am from India, and have spent the best part of my life there, exploring the incredible magnificence of the Himalayas in the north, the grandeur of Thar desert in the west, dotted with historical towns, untouched beauty and splendor of the tea gardens in the east and the spectacular backwaters of Kerala in the south…all four directions offer myriad experiences, enriching beyond imagination and too hard to describe in words. Oh! I didn’t mention the poetry in marble – the Taj Mahal! Each time you visit, it evokes a different emotion and the moment you come back, the yearning to visit again sets in! I live in California now.
Awesome. Balroop, religious?
I won’t call myself an atheist but I don’t believe in visiting religious places regularly. I visit once in a while when I hear the call within. To me, faith is a very personal emotion, not to be worn on my sleeve. Probably because religion was never forced on me and since I had the freedom to choose it or leave it, I never made an attempt to understand it. But I was always curious to know how could it evoke such strong feelings in some people! I have gathered that it depends on how much it is instilled into a person at an impressionable age.
I respect those who pray regularly but my faith has been shattered a number of times. Each time, I have tried to rebuild it but I always had my unanswered questions, my moments of wrath and protest against blind faith; I always would wonder why God is so unreasonable. How could he be right in giving so much suffering to some and so much love and happiness to others, absolutely no rights to some and all the privileges to others? The unending self-confabulation continues.
I have been happily married for 40 years. It was an arranged marriage though I had no inkling what I was stepping into just at the age of 23! When there is an unwritten societal decree that you have to marry when you are asked to, just because it is convenient for the people around you, when the society values your muteness at such decisions, when you are expected to concur with what your near and dear ones decide for you, when you don’t want to displease them…do you have any choice? I happened to marry a kind and understanding gentleman though there was no permission to reject the groom chosen by my family.
That leads perfectly into my next question. In your own words, what is love?
There are many definitions of love. In fact it changes with the person as love is more of a perception. I have written a lot of poems about love and plan to publish a book about them one day.
There was a time when love was a petrifying emotion for me. Love was just a passing thought, a mirage that could only be seen in the movies. It was not real. It was never around. I could never touch or feel it. The society in which I lived didn’t give any importance to expressing it openly. Falling in love was equivalent to falling in a well. Romantic love was offensive. Sex was a repugnant word! I don’t belong to middle ages though!
Love was caring for others but only those who were valuable to the society. Love was sacrifice…giving all your time and effort for the welfare of others. Love was thinking what was expected to think. Love was listening to and complying with all the diktats of the family and society. Self-love was taboo. It was being selfish. Till I realized love is much more than all this, which had been drilled into my mind. Till I decided to break free and get access to free thoughts. Till I realized love is an invisible force that can transcend all the barriers.
Love is a natural instinct that grows if it is nurtured. It evolves itself but withers if it is not watered with affection, care, respect, and kindness. Romantic love morphs into a loving and eternal relationship if we understand what is love; why passion is such a sweet word. Love is a much wider term… encompassing friendship, family, and bonding.
Why is writing important to you?
Writing is one of the most amazing gifts that we receive with life. It calms down my emotions. It is therapeutic, it makes me happier, it inspires! The elation of recording our feelings is so fulfilling, so heartwarming that we can create our own world of fantasy, in which all the characters are mere puppets in our hands. We can unlock all the doors, as the keys are in our possession… isn’t it a wonderful feeling?
Writing gives clarity to those ideas, which are confusing or blurred. It leads us to self-discovery. Writing has given me wings. I can fly anytime, anywhere. I often perch on the branches of my favorite trees and can communicate with everyone without any reticence. All those who sit far away, in the comfort of their homes can hear me as I let my voice merge into the clouds that float around, merrily.
I like that, “writing has given me wings…” What genre do you write in?
Poetry is my first love, as it flows spontaneously and effortlessly from my pen. I don’t remember when I started liking poetry. Probably I was born with it or was fascinated by the lyrics of Mother Nature. Poetry is a painting that gets its hues from words. Just one metaphor can evoke emotions that could not be described in a thousand words. I like this genre due to its succinct style. It soars on the wings of words. Poetry touches your deepest cords effortlessly. It develops perceptions. It liberates us from the mundane. It gives us wings. Due to its ambiguous nature, it can be interpreted in more than one way, depending on how the reader discerns the thoughts.
I also write creative non-fiction and have published three books in this genre.
Speaking of publishing, when did you publish your first book?
When I published ‘Sublime Shadows Of Life,’ my first poetry book in 2013, I didn’t have a blog. I didn’t know that an author ought to plan. Writing to me was a natural gift, an innate ability to share what lies within our heart.
The allure of Indie world was so dazzling that I just waded into it like an enthusiastic adolescent, soaring on the wings of hope, unaware of the pitfalls. I didn’t know I would flounder and flail and almost get drowned! It has been a long journey of striving to learn and I am not the one who would give up so easily. Now I have a lot of support from bloggers and authors who have been kind enough to help me with my second poetry book ‘Emerging From Shadows.’
What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
I just need a comfortable couch, cushions behind my back, laptop, peace of mind and peaceful surroundings. I like to read in bed before dozing off every night.
I know that’s right. What is the most annoying habit that you have?
I am outrageously outspoken, which has landed me in hot soups many times.
Outrageously lol. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Water skiing though I don’t know swimming. What is the harm of dreaming? Thank you for hosting me. I am honored to be your guest.
Be sure to pick up your copy of Balroop’s new collection of poetry!
Book Blurb: Certain desires and thoughts remain within our heart, we can’t express them, we wait for the right time, which never comes till they make inroads out of our most guarded fortresses to spill on to the pages of our choice. This collection is an echo of that love, which remained obscure, those yearnings that were suppressed, the regrets that we refuse to acknowledge. Many poems seem personal because they are written in first person but they have been inspired from the people around me – friends and acquaintances who shared their stories with me.
Some secrets have to remain buried because they are ours
We do share them but only with the stars
The tears that guarded them were as precious as flowers
Soothing like balm on festering scars.
While there are no boxes for grief and joy, some persons in our life are more closely associated with these emotions. Their separation shatters us, their memories echo, we grieve but life does not stagnate for anyone…it is more like a river that flows despite the boulders. When imagination and inspiration try to offer solace, poetry that you are about to read springs forth.
THANK YOU, BALROOP, FOR SPENDING TIME WITH US TODAY, WE ENJOYED YOU!
Balroop Singh, a former teacher and an educationalist always had a passion for writing. She is a poet, a creative non-fiction writer, a relaxed blogger and a doting grandma. She writes about people, emotions and relationships. Her poetry highlights the fact that happiness is not a destination but a chasm to bury agony, anguish, grief, distress and move on! No sea of solitude is so deep that it can drown us. Sometimes aspirations are trampled upon, the boulders of exploitation and discrimination may block your path but those who tread on undeterred are always successful.
When turbulences hit, when shadows of life darken, when they come like unseen robbers, with muffled exterior, when they threaten to shatter your dreams, it is better to break free rather than get sucked by the vortex of emotions.
Balroop Singh has always lived through her heart. She is a great nature lover; she loves to watch birds flying home. The sunsets allure her with their varied hues that they lend to the sky. She can spend endless hours listening to the rustling leaves and the sound of waterfalls. The moonlight streaming through her garden, the flowers, the meadows, the butterflies cast a spell on her. She lives in San Ramon, California.
Also don’t forget to do your part and reblog and share the post across social media every now and again. Help me to help you.
If you would like to be interviewed on this blog, visit the original post here. All you have to do is choose questions from the list at the bottom of the post (choose at least 10) and email me your answers along with your author photo, book covers, buy links and social media links.
I had the honor of writing a guest blog post alongside some amazing writers on the subject of marketing books as an introvert for Shayla Raquel’s most informative blog. Shy writer? Nervous? Don’t want to put yourself out there? Check us out for tips below!
“How does an introverted author handle book marketing? Well, I don’t know because I’m an extravert. So for the first time ever on this blog, I have asked not one but five introverted, outstanding authors to help you with your book marketing. If you’re shy or not into self-promotion or just feel like, “I literally cannot do this,” then you need to hear what these women have to say. Take it away, ladies!”
So far I have provided four different resources for understanding GDPR. Again, the general understanding is that you don’t have to send out re-confirmations to your list as long as you’ve been obtaining emails legally in the first place. Just make sure your opt-in forms and privacy policies are clear and transparent. Derek Murphy’s article talks about GDPR as it relates to using email marketing for list building and giveaways. Check it out below (it’s #4).
Today I’d like to extend a warm welcome to Mamello Mosiana. Welcome to The PBS Blog! Let’s get started.
What is your name and where are you from?
My name is Mamello Mosiana, I am from South Africa, originally from Bloemfontein, but I spent most of my adulthood in Cape Town.
South Africa in the house! What would your perfect writing / reading room look like?
My perfect writing/reading room would have large windows that almost take up the entire side of one wall, outside that window would be an overgrown garden. The room itself would also feel like a garden, filled with pot plants and flower pots. In the corner of the room instead of a desk would be a large cushiony futon, where I would work, since I find it hard to write at a desk. On the other side of the room, overlooking the window would be a meditation space enveloped in a circle of fragrant candles. The room would also have a light whiff of incense whipping through the air.
Nice. What would be the most amazing adventure to go on?
Personally, the most amazing adventure for me would be to travel by myself around the world, with nothing but one small backpack. Since I have difficulty letting go of stuff and packing light, the adventure, would probably begin with me, just trying to decide what will go into the bag.
Lol. What songs have you completely memorized?
I am a big Bob Marley fan, so I have mostly memorised his music, more by repetitive listening than any true attempts to memorise his lyrics. My favourites are: “Redemption Song”, “Concrete Jungle”, “Corner Stone”, “No Water”, “Stir It Up”, “Crazy Baldheads” and “Kaya”.
I LOVE Redemption Song! Does blogging help you to write?
Yes, blogging does help me to write, I have learnt a lot about writing succinctly and moreover, blogging has taught me a lot about myself. Since in my academic writing I am prone to distance myself from my subjects, blogging has really allowed me to interrogate what makes me, me. It is also through blogging, that I found my writing style.
Let’s switch it up a bit. What’s family life like for you, single or married?
Yes, I am single, at this point willingly taking a break from romantic relationships. I do not think I would like to be married, ever since I was a child, I have found I always preferred my own company. Even in relationships, I have found that I often seek out my own space.
Mamello, what takes up too much of your time?
Day-dreaming. I spend half my day just daydreaming, while it helps with the creative process, it also means that I sometimes miss the things going on around me and have little time for the things I have to do.
Are you political?
Yes, I am political. I do not believe that anyone is truly apolitical. Our personal life choices, though they might seem like minutiae have political, economic and societal impacts. Most of those life choices, have been pre-empted by politicians, or are regulated by policy-making spaces. “The personal is political, and the political is personal”.
Why is writing important to you?
Writing helps me process a lot of my feelings. I have found that it has helped me heal parts of myself that I did not know needed healing. Writing also helps me make sense of the world around and has given me a safe space to vent, cry and process.
What’s your favorite food?
My favourite food is hot chicken wings. If hot wings are on a menu, I am ordering them! I am in an endless pursuit to find the hottest and thus best chicken wings.
You making me hungry over here!
Thank you Mamello for spending this time with us. We enjoyed you!
Mamello Mosiana, is a second-time Masters student, blogger and in the process of writing her first collection of poems. Mamello is from Cape Town, South Africa, however she currently lives in London, England. She has worked in the field of Transitional Justice and Conflict Resolution. She is passionate about the redress of Gender-based violence and racial inequality in South Africa. Mamello would describe herself as a black radical feminist and consummate day-dreamer.