Saturday, November 02, 2013

This Weekend's Guest: Michael W. Sherer

I'm delighted to welcome Michael W. Sherer as our Saturday guest. Night Tide  is the second novel in the Blake Sanders thriller series. The first in the Seattle-based series, Night Blind, was nominated for an ITW Thriller Award in 2013. His other books include the award-winning Emerson Ward mystery series, the stand-alone suspense novel, Island Life, and the Tess Barrett YA thriller series. 

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Book Fairs, Conferences and Conventions, Oh, My!

A Facebook friend recently tried to convince me to make a trip to Miami for the Miami Book Fair International. Part of an author’s marketing campaign is typically devoted to travel, some of it for bookstore signings when a book first comes out, some of it for conferences and conventions such as Thrillerfest, Bouchercon and Left Coast Crime. And some authors set aside a budget to go to book fairs.

Conferences and conventions tend to be focused on a genre—Thrillerfest or RWA, for example—or a region such as the Pacific Northwest Writers Association conference. Authors attend to speak on panels, appear in the bookroom for signings, and best of all (no offense to readers and fans) to hang out with other authors, many of whom have become friends after years at these events.

Book fairs are a different animal. Though most feature author panels, they’re usually not confined to one genre. They often encompass all types of books, and feature stalls of booksellers. Their purpose, in other words, is really to give readers an opportunity to find and buy books.

Many do have a focus or theme, such as antiquarian books and maps or children’s books. But large book fairs such as Miami Book Fair International feature hundreds of dealers and publishers, and an equal number of authors who write on topics ranging from GLBTQ issues to food. And like conferences, book fairs often sponsor workshops on a variety of subjects. MBFI has one- and three-day workshops on poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and publishing, with many offered in Spanish.

Over the years, I’ve attended both. I went to my first Bouchercon in Pasadena in 1992. I’ve been a panelist at “Love is Murder,” “Murder in the Midlands,” “Magna Cum Murder,” and “Murder in the Grove.” I’ve done Left Coast Crime several times, Thrillerfest, Emerald City Writers Conference, PNWA, and the Shaw Island Writer’s Workshop. I’ve been to Printer’s Row Book Fair in Chicago a few times. I’ve also participated in library talks, bookstore signings and author presentations, American Library Association conferences, and Book Expo America.

I admit to never having attended Malice Domestic only because I don’t write cozies. And few writers have the means or the time to attend all the terrific conferences and fairs across the country.

My FB friend tried to convince me that for sheer exposure, as well as the opportunity to sell books, book fairs are more effective than conferences. More people attend, and do so because they want to buy books.

In the 25 years I’ve been going to book fairs and conferences, I doubt I’ve sold more than a dozen books in total. Granted, a lot of that has to do with my checkered publishing career. Few readers are aware of my two series despite awards and positive reviews. I was surprised, in fact, when only one person bought a book and asked to have it signed at Thrillerfest this past July despite its nomination for a Thriller Award (Pam Stack of “Authors On The Air” because she’s such a sweetie). I bought and read books by every other nominated author in my category and most of the other nominees’ books, too.

So, my question is this: Why do you go to writers conferences? Why do you go to book fairs? What’s your goal at each of these venues, to hear authors speak or buy their books? Have you ever bought a book by an author you hadn’t read previously on the basis of hearing he or she speak on a panel? 

Find out more about Michael on www.michaelwsherer.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thrillerauthor.

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