It’s been a couple of weeks since the first ever Indie Authors Down Under event that was held on the Gold Coast on March 22nd.
It was the first time that I’d ever been to an event like this, and I’m afraid to say that it will also probably be the last.
After having a few weeks to digest everything that happened from the pre-promotion to the organisation of the actual event, I realised that this type of event is just not for me. I had a great time meeting those authors I’d chatted to online in the months leading up to IADU, and meeting all the fans who had either pre-ordered or asked specifically for my books to buy on the day.
And that is exactly what the event should have been about.
But for me, it simply wasn’t.
I spend months planning for this. I knew that flying wasn’t going to be an option for me, so I opted to drive up to the Gold Coast. I spent fifteen hours in a packed car filled with copies of my books and swag, so excited that I was able to attend this signing. I spent hundreds of dollars on getting paperbacks printed and shipped from the States. I spent hundreds on swag and swag bags and little things that I thought fans would absolutely love.
But in the end, it wasn’t really worth all that. Instead of feeling as if I was part of a special group of authors whole were doing something “revolutionary”, I felt as if I’d stepped back into my high school. I felt as if I shouldn’t have even been there at all. There was a clear divide between “us” and “them”.
The make-up of authors attending the event was responsible for that feeling. Instead of there being a nice mix of all genres, there was a clear division of romance and erotica writers and everybody else who doesn’t write romance and erotica.
Essentially shunned, I never experienced any pre-promotion other than one post from one of the organisers on their Facebook page and a couple of blog posts with a series of questions. Six months of preparation, and all I got was one post on a social media platform that freely admits that it filters everything you see on your newsfeed and two blog posts? The actual event felt more like 6 hours of a literary popularity contest and self-esteem trampling.
A girl could only take so much. I know I’m not the only author who feels this way. There were definitely others who experienced the same kind of treatment that I did. The whole organisation of the event also felt like it was stuck together with Blu-Tac rather than glue. I understand that it was the first time the organisers had ever run an event like that, and I hope that with the feedback I sent them post-event that they’ll make the 2015 event an even bigger success for those who found it there this year.
So, what did I learn from my first, and last, experience at an author convention? Don’t take yourself too seriously, and don’t spend ridiculous amounts of money on swag which will essentially go to waste. I still have a huge box sitting in my study filled with this swag. And yes it’s great to have, but it’s still expensive to send out to fans. I’ve also learned that you should check what the organisers are expecting. If they want a romance writers convention, then they should advertise it as such. Being in a room with people who love romance novels will not get you many sales.
I’ve also learned that there are other options out there. If you’re an author, don’t think that a signing is your only way of connecting with fans. Next year, (hopefully) I’ll be hitting up another event with urban fantasy author Kimberley Clark. We’ve learned from our mistakes with IADU and we definitely won’t be making them again.