This blog might look like the last one I posted because it involves an author event. But the Heartland Book Festival was a unique experience, in part because it was the first one of its kind for Elizabethtown, Kentucky, and my first major book festival I took part in as an author. While I realize the insights I mention were things I already knew on some level, there’s nothing like having them confirmed by real-life experiences.
Insight 1: Those not in my target audience can be attentive to — and appreciate — all books and authors, regardless of genre, and be connections to readers I wish to reach.
My target audience isn’t my only audience. See, while I’ve written in various genres, I write primarily fiction for an adult audience. Though the public was welcome, the first day of Heartland Book Festival was aimed at students up to high school level.
Children and teens definitely are not my audience. So why show up at my table that day?
Simple: I wanted to support the event.
I didn’t expect to sell any books or do much of anything, but I was pleasantly surprised. Though they were prepared by their instructors about questions to ask authors, should they choose, the students had no true impetus to interact with me. After all, the children’s and young adult authors were on the other side of the huge room.
That didn’t stop the students from dropping by to talk to me. Many asked for my autograph. And a light bulb dawned on me when one told me my book looked like one a relative would enjoy.
Insight 2: Questions from readers and potential customers can force the writer to evaluate his or her writing motivations and processes.
As part of that book festival experience with the students, I found myself answering questions their instructors had helped them identify. But the questions were not from only students; adults had questions, too.
They asked what my book was about, how long it took me to write and how the book cover was relevant. All these questions are important.
Writers should be able to answer these questions because they get at the very foundation of the work they do. Thinking about them helps a writer give substance and validation to his or her work.
Insight 3: Book festivals are not just about connecting with readers but also connecting with other writers, who obviously are readers, too.
So this insight has importance which might be unintentionally minimized. Meeting authors is not only a fun social experience, but in my case, I got to make new friends. In fact, those new friends have become friends on social media.
These same writers can be valuable resources. Though I didn’t become friends with those writers for that purpose, those new friendships are valuable in all the respects they encompass.
All experiences can provide insights to a writer. The trick is recognizing them.