Northwest Book Fest: How We Did

Django Wexler, Janine Southard, and Louise Marley at a book table.

Django Wexler, Janine Southard, and the elegantly be-hatted Louise Marley at our book table. Although we were on the 2nd floor, we had a good location, and (imo) our table was one of the nicest and most professional looking.

I’d noticed that reserving a table at the Northwest Book Fest was around 100 bucks. So I asked some other people if they would be interested in sharing a table and enough of us clubbed in that it ended up being very reasonable. We had Brenda Cooper, Louise Marley, Vicki Saunders, Jeanine Southard, Django Wexler, and myself as well as books from Hydra House, including the new Clarion West anthology, Telling Tales, and KC Ball’s short story collection.

As far as selling goes, the first day was not particularly successful and on that day 50% of the book sold were to each other. The second day was more of the same, although we didn’t sell as many to each other. Overall, doing a group thing was definitely a good idea: it made for a table packed with attractive, professionally done books along with some table display stuff like a robot, a war-elephant, and some fantasy stuffed animals (including plushie Chtulhu). It also meant we had people to chat with and the livelier appearance of our table helped pull people in, I think. (Plus we had candy.) We might have done better on the first floor than the second, and there were some lighting issues.

I presented a workshop on podcasting, which was well attended, and I ran them through some whys and whats of recording your own podcast as well as ranting a bit about rights and not paying to publish. A number of them signed up to get advance notice of the Building an Online Presence for Writers book.

Overall, it was fun, and there was some decent networking, plus I passed out some postcards on my classes. On the other hand, did we sell many books? Not at all. However, the cost of the $100 table, split between all of us, was pretty darn reasonable, and it meant we could attend workshops. We didn’t have a formal name, so I’d put “Seattle Speculative Fiction Writers” down. So many people asked about our group the first day that Django ended up putting out a sign-up sheet for news of group activities and gathering two pages of e-mail addresses. I look forward to the first wine and chat party.

If I ran an effort like this again, I’d focus more on selling: perhaps do book bundles, make a sign letting people know the books were priced at special rates for the book festival, maybe have some lower-priced items or stocking-stuffer type trinkets, and would have a signup sheet for other mailing lists, like each author’s. However, the location was so difficult to get to that there was no foot traffic and some people had difficulty finding the place — if they do it in the same location next year, I’ll pass and spend that time writing instead, but as Brenda noted, if they move it back downtown, it might be worthwhile.

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About Cat

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches by the shores of an eagle-haunted lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov's, Clarkesworld Magazine, and the magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Her story, "Five Ways to Fall in Love on Planet Porcelain," from her collection Near + Far (Hydra House Books), was a 2012 Nebula nominee. Her editorship of Fantasy Magazine earned her a World Fantasy Award nomination in 2012. She is the current President of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). She is currently working on Exiles of Tabat, the third book of the Tabat Quartet. A new story collection, Neither Here Nor There, appears from Hydra House this fall.
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