Monday, March 14, 2016

Reflections on a Book Fest--Tucson '16

For the last three years, I've been privileged--or dare I say blessed?--to have spent the second weekend of March in Tucson, Arizona, surrounded by books, authors, and book lovers of all kinds at the Tucson Festival of Books on the campus of the University of Arizona.

The first year was such a learning experience; we (fellow Oak Tree Press author, J.L. Greger and I) had a two-hour slot at an authors' pavilion tent which we shared with ten other authors... at the far end of the festival grounds, past the science pavilion, past the food court, past the live entertainment. All of us were trying to sell our books, of course, but it soon became clear that if we REALLY wanted to sell our books, we had to get off our chairs, get out from behind the table, and engage the few (very few) passersby with our book pitches. In the end, we were fairly successful--we sold a total of five books between the two of us. We actually outsold the rest of the authors at that tent.

Naturally, this did not mean that we were catapulted to the top of the New York Times best-seller list. Those sales didn't even cover our festival expenses. And, believe it or not, it did NOT discourage us from continuing to write, continuing to have our books published, and continuing to try to find more readers and make more sales.

Last year, our publisher secured a tent for us in a much better location for the entire two days of the festival. This time, the only other authors we were "competing" with for book sales were our fellow OTP authors... and we were more likely helping each other to sell our books rather than competing.

This year, we had an even BETTER location (right by the entrance--no one could miss us!) and more authors presenting their books. And sales were better than ever. Again, this does not mean that I am now able to leave my full-time job and buy a Greek island on which to write my novels (when I'm not in the states negotiating my next multi-million dollar movie rights deal.) In fact, my success can be measured in single digits. I sold NINE books. I also gave away about 200 book marks and we (my fellow authors and publisher) probably talked to about a thousand people about our books.

One almost has to be an author to understand how success is truly measured. Until one talks to a person about their book, watches them thumb through the pages and read the synopsis, sees them nod when you tell them about your book, your characters, and your story, and then hears them say, "I'll buy your book. It sounds interesting!"... until one can comprehend what that means, what that feels like, then it's hard to explain what drives an author to sit at the laptop and start working on the next book.

One book or one thousand... it all comes down to the reader.
In 2014 when it was just me and "End of the Road" in Tucson!


  1. Time with OTP authors is the best of all well-spent time. Thanks for coming to Tucson, Amy!

  2. OTP = One Terrific Publisher! Thanks for being there, Billie! I wouldn't miss it for the world!