3 Big Lessons from the Roanoke Author Invasion

I learned three big lessons when I attended the Roanoke Author Invasion book festival earlier this month. (I attended as a reader, sigh, but some day . . . ! )

Lesson Numero Uno

Authors are super nice in person and are happy to talk about their books and their writing processes. The authors I met encouraged me in my writing journey, and I picked up some good tips. Like,

Research outside of your genre so you can thread new ideas into your stories.

Lesson Number Two

Some swag is better than others. I cringed a little at all the wonderful goodies authors gave out (see the feature image for this post) because I don’t NEED more pens, pins, or stickers.

The Best Freebie

The best freebie I got was a bookmark with a download code on the back for a free e-story. It was a story by Jo Michaels, an author I wasn’t particularly interested in until I read the free story. She’s got me wanting more. Now that’s effective swag!

Lesson Number Three

Multiple authors asked me for my business card.

Me: Oh, but I’m not published yet. I’m an aspiring novelist.
Helpful Author #1: You must establish your brand before you publish.
Helpful Author #2: Your future audience needs to know where to find you.
Helpful Author #3: Now is the time to build your social media presence. Put your social media accounts on your card.

Lesson learned.

Is it worth it?

The Roanoke Author Invasion isn’t a huge event, so is it worth it for authors in the region? I’d say yes if it fits your genre. (They don’t allow erotica or nonfiction.) There was scant room between the tables because of all the readers/fans, and folks were leaving the venue with stacks of books. Here’s my stack of nine autographed books (plus two e-books!):

Nine new books kindly signed by their authors.

I came away a happy reader. Maybe someday I’ll come away a happy author!

41 thoughts on “3 Big Lessons from the Roanoke Author Invasion

  1. It sounds like a wonderful event. I love book festivals!
    And those authors who told you to start building your brand now are absolutely correct. That way you already have a following in place when you publish.
    Bookmarks are my favorite swag. The free story idea is genius!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Well, I definitely started on the wrong side then 🙂 I was on the verge of getting published when I started my blog – that was the extent of my social media presence. No business card for me – still don’t have one. But still, that festival sounded fun, both for readers and authors. Who knows, maybe next year your wish will come true and you’ll be one of the authors there.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Not necessarily right, and it didn’t really work – it was a bumpy, uphill ride. It’s still an uphill ride, but with the publisher you can say the road is somewhat smooth.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a great time and got some wonderful advice. They’re right; it’s never too early to start cultivating relationships with readers.

    And I have every faith you’ll be there as an author someday!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Nice t-shirt though! 🙂 Interesting information regarding establishing a brand and a social media presence. Is social media branding a requirement to establishing yourself as a successful author. At least you have a good chance to create a nice logo for yourself with your artistic skills!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love my Ann Radcliffe tee shirt!

      Authors like Zadie Smith and Cal Newport aren’t engaged in social media, so it can work. But I think if you don’t do social media then you better be a VERY DARN GOOD writer! That or streak nekkid in the Boston Marathon and get arrested on national TV. Lordy, no, don’t do THAT. Just write really well to gain attention.

      Thanks for commenting, T.J.!

      Like

    1. Yes, of course. (Ugh, typos and cats!) One of the authors told me she got 500 cards in full color printed up for under 20 dollars, a lot less expensive than I expected. Thanks again for stopping by.:-)

      Like

  5. I’ve never heard of an author invasion, but it’s a great idea. Yes, I’m with you on the swag (never heard it called that before). I might adopt the code idea. Thanks for sharing these ideas.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Author Invasion” is just this particular book festival’s name. I think it’s a catchy title. The code idea is certainly clever.

      You’re welcome, Julia, and thank you for commenting!

      Like

  6. I think these are very good points, Priscilla. We don’t have many author events in South Africa and the ones that do happen don’t attract many people. Money is tight here and books are a luxury for many people. I think this sounds marvelous.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Tight budgets are rough. I am thankful to have a library nearby and also the means to buy myself books. (Mostly ebooks, actually, because they’re less expensive and easier on the environment.) But yes, the author event was marvelous! Thanks for commenting, Roberta.:-)

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    1. It was certainly smart of Ms. Michaels to give out bookmarks with a download code (and her name, too). I’m working my way through the books. They’ve been pretty good so far! Happy reader-me.:-) Thanks for commenting, Teri!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Kevin, I only started this blog when I started writing, last year. If I’m a typical statistic, it’ll be awhile before I get published. I’m hoping to work with a mentor on a current manuscript (it’s done, but I’m sure it needs heavy editing), and I have two more 1st draft novels sitting in the trunk.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. OMGosh, that’s so kind of you, Kevin, to offer to take a look! Thank you! This morning I heard from one of the mentors in the program, so I think I’m good to go. I’ll keep you in mind, though, if things don’t pan out. Thanks again!

      Liked by 1 person

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