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Literary Jenga 2

In my last post, I talked about organizing a book fair/ open house for a nonprofit. I told about all the hard work that went into it, the advertising, the gathering of participants, et cetera.  I also talked about how it was a lot like writing a book, or the game Jenga. At that point, there was still a week to go to the big day.

  I had high hopes. The local Good Morning, Aurora daily podcast, with its 4+k followers had told me they would plug the event. We were in the local papers. Personal postcards were sent to our usual donors. Social media was flooded with our ads.  We had signs and banners up. It was also Memorial Day weekend, surely people would be looking for something to do.

I expected to have as many as 20+ authors. Two publishing houses were attending and bringing their authors. (Although neither would commit to how many) There was the possibility of having as few as ten.  Plus, one invisible Australian author, Julia Yeoh, who had sent me a few copies of her books to include. She and her bear rabble were there in spirit.

That week, I made sure to touch base with all the participants; both authors and those working the event.  I went over my lists again and again, until I was sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.

Finally, the day arrived!  Fellow author, Rick Shaw had called to let me know he was on his way.  Although we’ve been friends for some time, this was our first face-to-face meeting, and I was looking forward to it, as well as meeting some fellow local writers.

This is where is where I cry plot twist!  If I count myself, only 5 authors came--Five.

The two publishers (also authors in their own right) showed up but without others in tow.  I’ve no idea what happened with the other authors.  We reached out but…crickets.

My tower wobbled a bit.  An hour into the event, the five authors were seated beneath Rick’s canopy networking.  If we were in the old west, a tumbleweed would roll past.

A couple of the volunteers working the fair grabbed some flyers and went out canvassing in an attempt to attract people.  Still nothing, or next to nothing.

It was pathetic. The authors that did come left early.  I sold one book. A copy of Julia’s Bears in the Woods.  How ironic is that?  The invisible author sold, while I stood in a pile of Jenga blocks feeling utterly disappointed.  Not because I hadn’t sold any of my own, but because I felt as if I had let everyone down. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what went wrong.

Do I think it was an utter waste of time? No. It was a learning experience in more ways than one.  The networking alone was worth it.   Would I be willing to do it again?  Honestly, yes. Just not right now.

Judy Snyder

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