3 Lessons from a Book Festival

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Book Fest, 2018. Georgia State University

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:

Most loved table art goes to: The I am Soul 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

 

Book Fest 2018, Georgia State University

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.

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Yecheilyah’s Book Reviews – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I don’t usually review Traditionally Published books on this blog because I am usually too lazy. Sorry, it’s the truth. But also because most of these books already have a gazillion reviews so I’m thinking, “they can’t miss my little review.”

But…

I have decided to change things up a bit and review traditional as well as Indie books on this blog. 

The first book I’ll review (because I just finished it so it’s still fresh and it’s the latest talk right now) is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It is being made into a movie this fall.


Author: Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give

Genre: Young Adult

Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition Later Printing edition (February 28, 2017

Language: English

ISBN-10: 0062498533

ISBN-13: 978-0062498533

WRITER'S WEDNESDA

Basically, I loved this book and it was refreshing to pick up something that kept me glued to the page (or screen rather) for the first time since I read American Marriage (another must read). I am not surprised Thomas got a movie deal because reading this was like watching a movie. I yearned to physically see everything that was going on and I am thankful that we’ll get to do just that this fall.

Sixteen-year-old Starr witnesses her best friend Khalil, an unarmed black male, get gunned down by a white police officer. This book gives us a personal and up-close look at the Black Lives Matter movement through the eyes of Starr, her family and the pain experienced by their community and Black America in general at this very hour. The Hate U Give is a spelling out of the acronym Thug Life as made popular by rapper Tupac. “The Hate U Give Little Infants F—s Everybody.”

If you know me, you know I love history and writing historical fiction. I enjoy writing Black Historical Fiction because it’s fun for me to place fictitious people in the midst of real events that happened in the past. That’s what this book is like except it’s a modern, new-school, updated, millennial version (I seriously felt real old reading this and the Tupac thing was a little much for me. I get it but I don’t think he was the best thing since sliced bread lol) and I think it’s perfect for young adults. There’s enough history to educate (references to Nat Turner, and the Black Panthers for example) but in a way that young people can understand and won’t get bored with. The way the author broke down the meaning behind the book’s title, “The Hate U Give” through the dialogue between Starr and her father was well done.

Everything about the book was well-written from the dialogue to the characters and the events taking place. For Starr and her friend’s age, everything they did and said was authentic. Even though the movie is coming out and I had heard all the rage, I wanted to read this for myself. I am not one to jump on bandwagons so I wasn’t going to champion this unless I had read it for myself. I have to say, Angie did not let me down. I even liked the doggie Brickz (“Brickz you been pissing on my roses?” Loll)

Entertainment Factor: 5/5

Thought Provoking: 5/5

Authenticity / Believable: 5/5

Overall: 5/5

In Theaters October 19, 2018

Next:

Men we Reaped by Jesmyn Ward

Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) By Yecheilyah Ysrayl [Book Review]

Thank you Rachel for reading and reviewing. Most appreciated. (Lol at your favorite quote 😂)

Rachel Poli

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links I’ll make a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

Book Review: Revolution: The Nora White Story (Book 2) by Yecheilyah Ysrayl | Historical Fiction | Creative Writing | Books | Reading | Book Blogging | RachelPoli.com

I received a free ARC of the book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Summary:

When Nora White is drugged by her friend she is forced to deal with the harsh reality of life in the North. She meets Keisha and the women catch a ride to The Den, a gambling and numbers hole-in-the-wall in Jacobsville New York. Unlike the upper echelon of Harlem, Nora’s new friends are hustlers but down to Earth and feels more like family. They take her to Liberty Hall where she is introduced to Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association (U.N.I.A.).

Meanwhile, Nora has no idea her father has been arrested and back home Molly is hanging on by a thread. When…

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Present | Sonia Sanchez

This woman vomiting her
hunger over the world
this melancholy woman forgotten
before memory came
this yellow movement bursting forth like
coltrane’s melodies all mouth
buttocks moving like palm tress,
this honeycoatedalabamianwoman
raining rhythm to blue/black/smiles
this yellow woman carrying beneath her breasts
pleasures without tongues
this woman whose body waves
desert patterns,
this woman wet with wandering,
reviving the beauty of forests and winds
is telling you secrets
gather up your odors and listen
as she sings the mold from memory.

there is no place
for a soft / black / woman.
there is no smile green enough or
summertime words warm enough to allow my growth.
and in my head
i see my history
standing like a shy child
and i chant lullabies
as i ride my past on horseback
tasting the thirst of yesterday tribes
hearing the ancient/black/woman
me, singing hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-ya-ya.
hay-hay-hay-hay-ya-y a-ya.
like a slow scent
beneath the sun
and i dance my
creation and my grandmothers gathering
from my bones like great wooden birds
spread their wings
while their long/legged/laughter
stretched the night.
and i taste the
seasons of my birth. mangoes. papayas.
drink my woman/coconut/milks
stalk the ancient grandfathers
sipping on proud afternoons
walk like a song round my waist
tremble like a new/born/child troubles
with new breaths
and my singing
becomes the only sound of a
blue/black/magical/woman. walking.
womb ripe. walking. loud with mornings. walking.
making pilgrimage to herself. walking.

– Sonia Sanchez

Alone | Maya Angelou

Lying, thinking
Last night
How to find my soul a home
Where water is not thirsty
And bread loaf is not stone
I came up with one thing
And I don’t believe I’m wrong
That nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.There are some millionaires
With money they can’t use
Their wives run round like banshees
Their children sing the blues
They’ve got expensive doctors
To cure their hearts of stone.
But nobody
No, nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Now if you listen closely
I’ll tell you what I know
Storm clouds are gathering
The wind is gonna blow
The race of man is suffering
And I can hear the moan,
‘Cause nobody,
But nobody
Can make it out here alone.

Alone, all alone
Nobody, but nobody
Can make it out here alone.

– Maya Angelou

Writer’s Wednesday: Renaissance Sneak Peeks

“Alright, girl, here’s another one. This here from Caroline down the road”, said Pearl.

Molly rolled her eyes, “Alright, put it on the table.”

“Whew, child. You mind if I oblige myself to this here sofa? All this running around, can’t be healthy.” Pearl heaved in and out as she sat down, lighting a cigarette. She closed her eyes, savoring the nicotine in her throat before releasing it into the air.

Molly chuckled, “Did you just say running can’t be healthy?”

Pearl cut her eyes at Molly, smiled, and answered by taking another long pull from the cigarette. Pearl was a big girl, and proud of it. She had a plump backside, wide hips, thick legs, and big breasts. So is the make-up of all the Tate’s.

“Girl, you know I can’t be losing no weight. Charles will have a fit. Have me walking around here looking all sick like y’all skinny heifers,” said Pearl as Molly laughed.

“I’m serious. Shoot, the bigger the berry, the sweeter the juice.”

“No you didn’t!” laughed Molly. Pearl joined in. She cracked herself up.

Molly glanced over the table, almost completely covered with German Chocolate cake, sweet potato pies, greens, macaroni and cheese, yams, baked beans; you name it, it was here.

“She’s not dead, you know,” Molly spoke from nowhere.

“What?”

“All of this support. It’s like everyone’s acting like this is some kinda repass. Like my daughter is dead or something.”

Pearl let the cigarette die out in the ashtray. Whatever kinda buzz she had, Molly just blew it.

“They just tryna be supportive is all. You know how country folk are. Your child is their child. The men folk are out looking and the women folk are at home cooking. That’s how it is.”

“They will find her.”

Pearl shrugged, “Humph, I know they will. Got the dogs, NAACP and everything else. They better find her.”

“I mean alive. They’re going to find her alive. I can feel her, Pearl.” Molly thought about the last time she saw her very own mother that night on the porch, cold and tired. She wondered for a moment if that’s how Nora felt right now: alone, cold, and tired. Molly wanted to feed her. To give her all this food that was made for her.

Available now on Amazon

Pearl sat back on the sofa, Here we go again. She wasn’t entirely honest with Molly, but everyone wore the same consensus on their hearts. There was a strong possibility they were not going to find Nora alive. No one wanted to give her credit because she talked too much. Miss Irene talked entirely too much and spoke with an unfiltered tongue, but what she said was true. Children in 1922 Mississippi didn’t just run away.

First, no one would let them. Besides their parents, there were just too many eyes watching, which is what makes it hard to believe no one saw anything. This was the South and you had not one parent or two, you had forty, fifty, and sixty. The whole colored community. People looked out for each other and someone, somewhere was always watching.

Still, she didn’t know how to break the news to her friend that she should prepare her heart for the unthinkable. Besides, she had her Marie to think about and she didn’t know what she’d do if something happened to her. If there was one thing her parents taught her, it was putting yourself in other people’s shoes. “That the onliest way to sympathize wit ‘em,” her father would say. “You gotta be able to feel where they been, where they walked, and then you can help ‘em ‘cause you knows. You knows in your heart what they been through and where they is.”

“She gone be alright, Molly. She gone be alright.”

Pearl lit her cigarette again, leaned back on the sofa, looked at the table, and prayed her words were true


Grab your copy of Renaissance today. Part two is on its way!

My Independent Bookstore Journey – The Purpose Beneath the Surface

Me at the MLK Historical National Park Bookstore, next door to the MLK Birth Home, Atlanta, GA

As you all know, I have been spending less time on social media and more time getting out into the community and networking with local Independent bookstores. I am doing this as part of my goal to try things out for myself and to be a witness to the experience so I know what works and what does not work. I am calling it My Bookstore Journey. Currently, I am working with three stores at the moment in the Atlanta-land area with one that has already stocked me on the shelves. I thought I’d share a little bit about why I am doing this. I am also using this as an excuse to update this blog (lol).

My Bookstore Journey is not just about getting into stores. In fact, I do not desire to get into every store. My Bookstore Journey is about learning more about this returns-based industry, how to negotiate, set discounts and experience all of this on my own. I don’t just want to read about it any longer, I want to experience it. In this way, I can help others and offer insight based on hands-on experience. There is a lot being said about Independent Publishing that is just not true (one of them being that Self-Publishers can’t get into bookstores…I’ve already proven this to be false.)

I’ve been spending less time online because 2018, for me, is about stepping outside of my comfort zone (selling my books online) and getting out to talk with people face to face. As an extremely shy person, this is a big step for me. I’d much rather stay at home and speak to you this way. (Am I the only person who thinks she writes better than she speaks?)

This is a journey of learning and discovering so not every place will be for me. (As the saying goes: “Never drink from every cup handed to you, that’s how you get poisoned..”) That said, here’s the latest update on my Bookstore Journey:

Atlanta has been cold but this weekend was a beautiful one so I took advantage of it. The bookstore at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Site is currently reviewing my latest poetry release I am Soul. The store is next door to the MLK birth home and if they like my book we will see about getting it on the shelves if everything is everything. If I decide to go through with it, this will be a major milestone as the historical area brings major traffic, tourists, and city officials.

“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” – Matt. 7:7-8


Yecheilyah is an author, blogger and poet. Be sure to pick up your copy of I am Soul, her latest collection of poetry on Amazon.