Sunday, August 09, 2015

When An Event Fails Your Expectations

I've had it happen a number of times and it usually surprises me. I'm talking about an event which fails to meet my expectations.  Several weeks ago, I learned of an author library event in Fort Collins.  Located about an hour and a half away, the sign-up information looked interesting so I committed to the event and scheduled it. The day before the event, I learned that over 60 authors would be attending.  I had the impression it would be an active event with a lot of potential book buyers.  It wasn't anything in the information that I received but I was hopeful. It was not.

Yes the authors came with their books and marketing materials but few people walked through the event and spoke with the authors. Later I learned it was the first time for this library to organize and hold this event.  I have no idea what tools or marketing efforts the library made to encourage people to visit with the authors.

After I drove to the event and set up my books and other materials, I could almost immediately see that few people would be coming to this event. The foot traffic was minimal. Yes the authors were there but not readers and book buyers. When I am in this type of situation, my first step is to adjust my own expectations.  Obviously I was not going to be selling many books at this event. In fact, I did not sell a single book throughout the day.

This experience wasn't my first time where my expectations were disappointed.  For example, I've taught continuing classes at a writer's conference and had two or three people in my class. Other times at the same event (different year), I've had a packed and overflowing room. When you schedule and plan for these events, you never know what will happen—another lesson from the event.

As I shifted my attitude about what was going to happen at this library event, I looked for other opportunities (something else you can do).  Over 60 authors were at this event, could I make new relationships at this event? 

Yes was the answer.

I learned one of the authors also hosted a podcast. I made a point to meet this author, ask about the podcast (and learn he also has a broadcast radio show), and we exchanged cards and books. In the next day or so, I will be following up with this author to see when we can schedule this podcast or possible radio interview. The real fruit from such an event it is the follow-up of these types of opportunities.

During this event,  I met another author who leads a writers group in Denver. We exchanged business cards and spoke about the possibilities of my presenting a program to this group. It will take some additional follow-up on my part but it is another unexpected opportunity that turned up from this event.

Also as an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing, I met authors who are looking to publish a forthcoming title. We exchanged business cards and with follow-up, this exchange could turn into future business.  Were there authors at this event who need my help or the information that I have on my blog or in my freeteleseminars?  I answered this question with a yes and made a point to exchange cards with a number of authors at the event—and I will be following up with these people. Notice the repeated theme in my article about follow-up?

As I sat and spoke with different people, I read the name tag of one of the people.  She was the executive director of the library.  Immediately I began to discuss how an author could donate a book to the library collection. She gave me the name and email of the head of collections along with her own email. It's something else I can do to follow-up. If I can work out this detail, I will send them a complimentary copy of my books. Why? Because I've seen in the past when I do this, the library will often order additional copies of the book. The only hardcover version of my Billy Graham book, I saw in my local library. I gave them a copy of the paperback and they ordered the hardcover version.

Authors have to seize the opportunities around them. It might not be the opportunity which you see on the surface. Possibly the opportunities comes from making the right connection with the right person at the event. Have you attended an event which did not meet your expectations? How did you turn around that event and make an opportunity?

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