I’ve recently returned from what has become my top pick for an author/reader event (and that’s saying a lot because I only have three events I recommend and are on my list of MUST ATTEND events). Wild Deadwood Reads in Deadwood, SD is DaBomb! (Is that slang still even a thing?)
The weather was beautiful for horseback riding. Yes! Equine therapy, something my soul desperately needed. The weather was gorgeous for the Twisted Tour of the “haunted” places in Deadwood. Practically the whole town is on the National Register of Historic Places, so if the tour didn’t find a ghost or two or run into an unexplained cold spot, I would be surprised. I will admit, the weather turned nasty and was as cold as a well-digger’s knee for the rodeo Saturday night. Seriously—38 degrees when the first rider climbed aboard a bull and rosined up is a bit chilly. By the end of the evening, some of the puddles in the arena appeared to have an ice skim over them. I don’t know who was more chilled—the audience or the bull fighters standing ankle deep in soggy, muddy puddles. If you want a good glimpse of the backbone and soul of this wonderful country, get yourself to a rodeo.
I saw and hugged authors I usually only see and interact with on Facebook. I met new to me authors. I met another Rose (a Wild Rose Press author). I was honored to meet a genuine, down-to-earth celebrity in Michael Foster. I met and talked to readers, some of whom I was a “new to them” author. I sold out of two books and almost sold out of a third.
I want to make one thing perfectly clear here—while I am deeply appreciative of the readers who purchase my books at these events, that isn’t why I’m there. I’m there to make connections, to begin a reading relationship with new to me readers and build upon that relationship with readers who follow me. I go to these events for networking, for building professional rapport with other authors. I have never once looked at any author/reader event in terms of ROI (return over investment).
Has everything become about the almighty dollar?
A comment was made on a friend’s post about this event that it seemed only authors were there having fun, there were no readers. Actually, for every author there, four readers attended. Yes, Deadwood was a lot of fun. One of the many reasons I continue to return to Wild Deadwood Reads. Authors having fun with readers and those who might become readers.
One of the biggest pointers in making sales is to allow your potential readers to relate to you on a personal level. What better way to do that than over snacks at a “meet and greet”? Or while admiring the beauty of the Black Hills from the back of a well-trained horse? Or touring the beauty of Spearfish Canyon, a wild horse refuge, and the grandeur of Mount Rushmore with other authors and readers? Or (as was the case this year) shivering while also being impressed with the prowess of a bull rider and the brute strength of a one-ton animal determined to dislodge that annoying human clinging to his back? Or, in my case, having readers and authors come to my table to meet my dog? Seems my dog is famous—even the hotel staff remembered him from the previous year and were tickled he was returning with me this year.
Any author who views an author/reader event merely in terms of ROI seriously needs to reconsider why they are writing. If an event is criticized and discounted because of ROI (or perceived lack thereof), as an author, you’ve reduced your readers to potential dollar signs. Your readers aren’t even human anymore in that world view. And, the day I do that to any reader (whether that reader reads my books or not) is the day I hope someone literally Gibbs’s slaps me upside the head.
Yes, I fully understand this writing gig is a business and must be treated as such, but I also know there is such a thing as client goodwill. You can’t put a price tag on that goodwill. There is no way to adequately measure that goodwill with any metric.
No one is a dollar sign and any author who forgets that does so at his/her peril.
(Photos by Kim Killion of the Killion Group, Jennifer Tibbs Fuller, Jacque Bailey, and Teresa Keefer.)
My blog is where I do most of my venting about all sorts of things--book scammers, book stuffers, book thieves (I refuse to call them 'pirates' because I won't insult pirates), stupid crap that happens at dog shows. You never know what you'll read in this blog because I don't ever know what I'm going to write until I start writing.