Meeting Readers and Diverse Fantasy Authors at The Black History Month Book Bazaar

Book events, for me, usually begin with catching a train in the middle of the night or at the crack of dawn. Over the weekend, I attended The Back History Month Book Bazaar hosted by East of the River Book Festival. I left NY at 3 am. When you travel that early, you don't sleep much. I always travel with a blanket I knitted and a small pillow. Not the travel will that wraps around your neck. My emoji pillow.

Fortunately, my subway train runs 24 hours. I said a little prayer before leaving. My neighborhood may be relatively safe but I was still traveling in NY by myself at 1 am.

Before leaving, I checked out Netflix and Amazon and download movies or TV shows. Amtrak trains have free WiFi but it's also too slow to stream anything. Mostly, you can use it for checking emails or Instagram. I downloaded Castlevania Season 2 and Infinity War. I watched 2 episodes of Castlevania before I curled up under my blanket and fell asleep.

Since the Book Bazaar was in Iverson Mall Maryland, I stayed with m parents in DC. I had so many flashbacks as I stepped into that mall. A  small shop inside sells the best Snickerdoodles. I spent half the day dreaming about cookies. The Bazaar was so close to the shop. I spent the other half eating cookies. You can get half a pound for about $6. That was one unhealthy lunch but it was good.

The Bazaar was in a good spot. Right at the mall's main entrance.

And this place had some good lighting. Usually, I spend about 5 minutes trying to find the right camera setting because the overhead light made everything too dark or too orange.

Whenever we have events, we pack books and everything else we need in a suitcase. We didn't bring a ton of books this time. Chains of the Sciell and The Lost Sciell are big, so packing and hauling a ton of them is an adventure.

Here's our table all set up:

I got real excited when I learn two other authors there wrote fantasy books. Even with the push for diversity, I rarely see diverse speculative fiction title at events. I bought both books. I'll be photographing them to post on Instagram. The cover arts are amazing. Check out Book of the Anointed by J.Moon and Khaalida: Goddess of Death by Jerel Smith.

I sold some books and got some extra promotion opportunities.

He interviewed all the authors to post on his website. There was another event on the lower level of the mall. Our event organizer talked with the leader of that event. We were allowed on stage to talk about our books. My publisher and I also learned about another event happening on March 30th. We plan on attending that.

At these events, you learn new things about your books. The Lost Scielwas at one end of the table. People were coming from the other side. They'd cross the table to pick up The Lost Sciell, the biggest book we had. You can jump in at Book 3 but it wouldn't recommend it. So, I'd point people to Book 1. Maybe it was the red or the bigger size. I was surprised at how people seemed to be attracted to the longer book.

They didn't even comment on how big it was. They simply picked it up and read the back.

When you're running a table, it's interesting trying to figure out what to do when people are browsing your books. I want them to check out the books undisturbed. I don't want to stare at them. I also don't want to be looking at my phone or doing something, just in case they have questions. Mostly I look at the table or around the venue, keeping them in my peripheral.

All in all, a successful event. I was dead tired by 3 pm but I had a lot of fun.

Authors, I encourage you to get comfortable with talking about your books without warning. Going into this event, I didn't know we'd be speaking on stage. Because of school, I've gotten used to talking in front of people so I didn't have a problem.

I also suggest you learn how to change your message quickly. You may have a practiced speech about your book for these occasions. I do but that speech doesn't always work for all audiences. For the event, the audience had a mix of older and younger people. Although the Merging Worlds Series isn't YA, people keep saying the books would be good for teenagers. So, I molded my speech to talk to the younger people in the audience.


William Kendall said…
It sounds like it was quite worthwhile for you!