Pamela Binnings Ewen, founder of the Northshore Literary Society had invited me to be a panel member at the “From a Great Idea to a Book” workshop sponsored by the Jane Austen Festival. The workshop was a paid event held on Sunday afternoon. The free events held on Saturday gave authors opportunity to display and promote their books. I would not have my book until the Fall, but I did have Gathering Magazine, which included stories I had written about local Christians.
A festival for readers of fiction romance wasn’t my niche market but would be a good experience. I reserved table space to sell the magazine during Saturday’s events and to collect names to enter into a drawing for a prerelease copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot. Then I learned Rebecca Gernon would be speaking at the Southern Christian Writers Guild on the same day. I usually attend to film authors for NOLA’s faith blog, but had planned to skip the meeting. Rebecca is a good friend. Skipping wasn’t an option.
Fortunately, Dallas, the publisher of Gathering Magazine agreed to man the table until I could return. Dallas and I arrived at the Mandeville Trailhead at 8:45 a.m. to search for our table. The book section in front of the main stage was full. No table for us. Motivational speaker and friend Ryan Lowe walked by looking for his table. No table for him either. We found an event organizer who set up a table for Ryan and me to share. Ryan set out his Get Off Your Attitude book. I helped Dallas set out the magazine, printed copies of the introduction to Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot, and cards to sign up for the prerelease drawing.
With thirty minutes to spare before I dashed off to film Rebecca’s presentation about Gallaudet University Press offering her a contract for The Silent Minority, I did what I usually do: took out
my camera to film authors promoting their books. As soon as the first author began speaking someone decided the festival need music…loud music. We were in front of the speakers blaring the music. We called to the woman on stage standing behind the soundboard. “Can you turn the music down or off.” She was reluctant. “All we need is ten minutes.” She consented. I later learned I was talking to Kerri Blache, the founder of the Jane Austen Festival.
I left to film Rebecca. By the time I returned, the Louisiane Vintage Dancers where teaching audience members how to dance. Crafts were being packed up and tables carted off to a dark closet until needed again. I was surprised to learn seven people had signed up for the drawing.
If you would like to enter the drawing for a prerelease copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org before August 30, 2012. Please put DRAWING in the subject line.
The following day was delightful compared to the mad dash Saturday had been. My husband drove me across the lake for lunch at his favorite restaurant. I departed from my usual taco salad and thoroughly enjoyed the spinach chimichanga. I was the first panel member to arrive at The Lake House. Deborah Burst, moderator for the panel and cofounder of the Northshore Literary Society, stood on the balcony. She spotted me and pointed to the stairs at the side of the house. My husband and I ascended the stairs to enter a small but full room. Deborah had said we would be seated at a table with microphones. There were four chairs. No microphones. The room was small enough that we didn’t need amplification to be heard, but we discussed standing so people could see us.
Deborah left to find the other panel members. She returned with Robin Wells, St. Tammany Parish 2011 Literary Artist of the Year and author of sixteen critically acclaimed fiction romance novels that have been translated into eighteen languages. Her books have won the National Golden Heart Award, two National Readers’ Choice Awards, the Award of Excellence, the Golden Quill, and the Holt Medallion. I wondered what I was doing on a panel among such distinguished company. Deborah also had Cheryl Schleuss in tow. Cheryl is a board member of the Northshore Literary society, with “Awakened”, a fiction story, published in the Apalachee Review. She is currently writing her first novel. I greeted my co panelist, and we sat down. I guess Deborah decided people could see us just fine.
During the panel discussion, Robin Wells said, “Writing is spiritual.” I don’t know if she embraces a religion but apparently she had connected with God who gives us talents. Robin also said, “I would be reluctant to give any one advice on writing because the publishing industry is currently like the Wild West.” With the advent of print on demand publishing, social media and e-readers anything goes. Anyone can be published.
At the conclusion of the panel discussion, a retired Methodist clergyman told me about his wife’s involvement in Women’s Aglow before she died. Another man said, “You are very open. Whatever we wanted to know you were willing to tell us.” His comment greatly encouraged me.
Both men had a copy of the introduction to Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot. I had printed twenty copies. A small color picture at the top made them expensive to produce, so I was careful to give them to interested individuals. I returned home from my first foray in marketing with ten copies advertising my book. Not bad for a nonfiction book among people who read fiction romance.
My first foray into marketing taught me to be prepared for the unexpected. Nothing happened the way I had planned. I wasn’t surprised by that revelation. Helping my husband in children’s church for twenty years had already prepared me to deal with the unexpected.
If you would like to enter the drawing for a prerelease copy of Finding Faith in the City Care Forgot email your mailing address to email@example.com before August 30, 2012. Please put DRAWING in the subject line.