Saturday, April 12, 2014

The show is over

The first Canadian Authors Association National Capital Region Book Fest is wrapping up a little early, and that means exactly what you think it means: it's been disappointing.

Not the content. I enjoyed meeting fellow authors, comparing notes, swapping experiences. But the traffic, the number of potential readers and book buyers that came through, was tiny. I sold a few books, gave two away, and traded for two more with fellow authors. 

Children's author Joanne Lecuyer

The explosive Robert Barclay

I learned that most Ottawa authors here use Baico Publishing, a publishing service provider, to produce their print books. Most of the rest use Createspace, one LightningSource and one Friesen Press. 

Surprisingly, few seemed to be big on e-books. In fact, two of the panel discussions denigrated e-books. "You can't wrap an e-book," said one author. Another said "I don't even know how my books got onto Amazon."

Strangely, these panelists did not like e-books.

Well, e-books outsell paper books, at least in the developed world, and especially in fiction. Turning your back on e-books it turning your back on the future.

We need to learn how to reach readers
Almost all the authors showing books were independent or self-published; maybe five out of forty had a publishing deal, and those were with a micropublisher. So no one's getting big advances.

Author and writing coach Kevin Johns

We all enjoyed interacting, but swapping or selling to each other is not going to do us much good. "Traffic," the number of potential book-buyers who came through, was minimal. I doubt even 50 came through the door.

Laurie Fraser's book bears striking resemblances to my work-in-progress

There are lessons to learn here about promotion and publicity, but I don't think that anyone here can teach those lessons. 

This is the challenge: we need to learn how to effectively engage with larger numbers of potential readers who will at least pick up our books and read the back cover.

That's all I'm looking for.

What do you all think?


  1. Hi Scott,

    I was chatting with a fellow from another local blog, and he pointed out how important logistics are for a sale. He mentioned logistics and having more than just books helps draw people. So maybe next time the CAA should couple with a local craft or art group, and have it more centrally? I've thought it might be cool to have a book festival in an art gallery.

    Fair review of the event, for sure. There is quite a bit of room to grow.

  2. That sounds like a good idea. I've been toying with the idea of combining books and music at a coffee shop, so we have three draws: books, music and food.