Part Two: Festival Day
Already sleep deprived from a month of preparation, I had not a wink of sleep the night before my festival appearance. When I got out of bed at 6.30am, it was pure adrenaline that kick started me into the day. I left my friend Sonia’s house at Lennox Head, and drove the short distance north to Byron Bay. I stomached half a toasted sandwich and a skinny chai latte before heading up the road to the festival site, an open area of land behind the Elements of Byron resort. I arrived at nine o’clock, half an hour before my allotted time.
There had been a significant amount of rain in Byron Bay over the weekend, so the ground in the car park was uneven and muddy. The trolley I had bought to carry my boxes of books proved essential for transporting my stock safely to the Self Published Marquee. Once inside the festival site, I located the Marquee and began to set up my book display on my allocated trestle table. I propped my newest release, Paid To Dance, up on shoeboxes, and laid out my handouts and mailing list sign-up sheet.
The author set up next to me had written a book about climate change, and at the table on the opposite side of the tent, a lady with a book of poetry and a man with a book about spirituality. Quite an eclectic mix of titles indeed!
I had been allocated a two hour period between 9.30-11.30am to sell and promote my books to the public. A handful of festival goers stopped by my table, and I was able to talk to them about my books and myself as an author, and my experience publishing my books through CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing. I was sure to keep my cash float close at all times.
The coordinators present at the Marquee had decided to conduct some spontaneous author talks during our two hour session, and this was perhaps the highlight of the experience. It was also a wonderful surprise to have my Aunty Karen surprise me at my table, having driven all the way from Redcliffe in Queensland to support me at my first festival appearance!
After my session at the Self Published Marquee concluded at 11.30, I packed up my table and took my stock back to my car. I met up with my Aunty Karen at Main Beach in Byron for a lunch of fish and chips, before heading back to Lennox Head, where I spent the night at the home of Sonia’s friend in a cool beach shack style house. This was also my first experience using AirBnB!
Out of the thirty-eight book copies I had with me, I sold three, two copies of Paid To Dance and one of The New Neighbors. Of the hundred odd handouts I had printed, I had handed out only a handful. I was also slightly devastated to discover that I had not sold a single copy from there over the entire three days of the festival. But, all the more for my readers at home!
Taking part in the Byron Writers Festival was an valuable learning experience for me as an author. Although my sales were disappointing, being able to talk to the public about my books was fantastic, even better being able to get up on stage for a proper author talk! I have promotional material in the form of photos and videos, and I can now add this appearance to my resume.
Being selected to appear at the Self Published Marquee at the Byron Writers Festival 2016 was a milestone in my career as an author so far. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have been able to take part in Australia’s largest regional writers festival. There is no other opportunity like the Self Published Marquee at any other writers festival in Australia or internationally that I am yet aware of, so I would also like to take this opportunity to applaud the Byron Writers Festival for creating this wonderful platform for independent authors.
Next on the agenda is my application to the Newcastle Writers Festival, to be held in Newcastle, New South Wales, in April 2017. I am hoping to present a workshop on how to publish books using Amazon’s free publishing tools.