The weight of what we write. The ability to influence the direction of a decision. To direct the path of someone’s life for better or for worse. The responsibility of altering a person’s state of mind. Isn’t it blood on our hands if we do it wrong? People watch and people mimic. Can we be counted on to be saviors and not devils? Heavy is the pen. This is the weight of writing.
I spent most of September reflecting on my writing and spending time with family. I’ve got tons of unfinished manuscripts in need of work and truth is they are hard to finish. I do not mean hard as in difficult to write. I mean hard as in finding the joy in publishing them.
I have felt bored with the monotony of publishing books. The support doesn’t feel the same. The blog doesn’t feel the same and now, even Self-Publishing doesn’t feel the same.
I am always writing, and I love publishing but I’m no Terry McMillan with millions of readers lined up to read my next book or any other author with multi-city tours lined up to guarantee that the next release will provide a change in routine. I do not mean this to sound pessimistic.
I am not giving up on publishing but those of you who have been Self-Publishing for a while may understand. No real change can get tiring. I have felt like King Solomon when he said, “the making of many books has no end and much study wearies the flesh.” (Ecc 12:12)
I feel myself transitioning to a level I do not as of yet fully understand.
Last week, the revelation came and while I know it’s not the only revelation on its way to me, it’s one I think important enough to share.
Growth is uncomfortable.
This is an exciting phase and every day I am reminded of its promise. Just recently a media specialist contacted me for something I cannot speak on at the moment. These kinds of moments provide me with the proof that I am not going crazy and that perhaps my name is being uttered in rooms I have not walked into yet.
Growth is like strength. It doesn’t feel you are being strengthened when you are in process. It doesn’t feel like growth when it’s happening. It feels uncomfortable and uncertain. I can feel myself changing in a way I never have before. I can almost reach out and touch it.
The next time you feel uneasy and uncomfortable, consider that perhaps, you are growing. Evolving. Blooming.
A little discomfort helps us to grow. The feeling is not fun, but it’s a big part of improving our personal development.
“Routines may make you feel at ease and in control, but what a constant routine really does is dull your sensitivities. Think about the times in your life when you’ve driven the same route repeatedly: after a certain number of trips, you start tuning out most of it. Have you ever had a trip to the office where you barely remember what happened after you got in the car? If you don’t get out of your comfort zone, you might find yourself tuning out much of your life on a daily basis. (Sujan Patel Former Contributor Entrepreneurs, Growth Marketer & Co-founder of Web Profits)
To keep from tuning out, I had to stop and think real hard about why I was feeling such discomfort and then I had to accept it, even as I watch people become distant and even as I strive to overcome my own limited thinking.
Brain research shows that putting yourself in new and unfamiliar situations triggers a part of the brain that releases dopamine, the “happy,” chemical. That part of the brain is also said to only be activated when we experience new things.
I don’t want you to think this post is about quitting. This isn’t about quitting. This is about allowing ourselves to grow/level up.
It is tempting to want to revert into that state of normalcy, to remain as we are. It’s easy to go through life unchanged out of fear that this new version of us won’t be accepted or that someone may accuse us of no longer possessing the same moral integrity as before. And how can we not think this way? We’ve been well-trained to think newness and change are inherently bad.
This is not the truth. Not all change is bad and since all change teaches us something, perhaps even change we perceive as bad is not so.
In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”
Few people enjoy the feeling of being uncomfortable and as we are now a few months away from 2020, time will not wait for us to catch on. My challenge for this month and the rest of this year is to get past that initial feeling of wanting to return to the norm, so I can grow and benefit from that discomfort.
I have been MIA on social media lately and I’ll return to my regular blogging soon. In the meantime, the Even Salt Looks Like Sugar is available now in audiobook. If you are a first time audible user this book is free with the 30 day trial.
Texas, I’ll be at the Trill Healing and Wellness Space in Stafford TX (about 40min from Houston) on November 30th for a signing and book reading of Keep Yourself Full. If you are in the area, I would love to have your support. This is our chance to meet/catch up. Don’t have this book? No worries! Grab your copy now from my website by clicking on the link in my bio. See you soon. Special thanks to Trill Monday Night Markets, Enlightened Souls, and B Infused Natural Detox Waters and more.
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, not neccessarily a profitability one (except if you have a large platform already). 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. If you can’t at least make the money back you spent on the table, it is not worth it. Not if selling books is your only aim.
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
Challenging to sell books for new authors with no audience
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 know vending is like the It thing to do now but drinking from every cup of “opportunity” is how you get poisoned. Understand the pros and cons first and be sure to research the organization hosting the event.
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.