It's days like this that make you feel good. No, make you feel great. For an event to be a success several things need to happen. People need to commit to your vision, they have to stay engaged and they have to follow the dream that started in your own head.
My dream of organising an author signing event became a reality today, as Westwords 2019 became centre stage at Westwood Cross. This was due to several factors.
First, the forward thinking support of Westwood Cross Management who were able to see my dream venue and make it exist, by providing several luxury marquees and magnificent staff to support and advise us on protocol and procedures. Thank you WWX.
Second, the members of Inspirations Writers Group who came, either to wish us well or support the event in a number of ways. By promoting it with me for hours the day before or staffing the Inspirations stall, or reading out poems (without a mike or stage) in the Park. A daunting prospect for anyone with a mike, but without, this involved projecting their words loudly across and down the parade.
English Language students looked on amazed at our outburst. Customers of Costa and Greggs watched on bemused and interested. I watched one little pre-school girl, shyly at first, then with more confidence turn in her chair to listen to Tracey's words about an elephant going to school. I couldn't help wondering if this child would be facing the same situation come September. Maybe those words touched a nerve and made her feel better, because that elephant had a good time. Thank You IWG
Lastly, the event would not have happened at all without four brave writers and poets taking a chance on me. Everyone of them is a star in my eyes. Christopher Hopkins , Tom McColl, Mark Holihan and Paul Hobday were the participants I could only dream of. Kind, caring, supportive. They seemed to have a good time networking and generally learning about each other despite the low sales. I even managed to get two of them to launch themselves into the Park to read poetry, something that doesn't come naturally to folk especially mike-less. Thank you my newest friends. Please forgive that I forgot to take photos of you all.
This event wasn't about getting rich or famous, at least not yet. It was about getting our foot in the door, finding our feet, learning the ropes and all the other relevant clichés that spring to mind.
a) I learnt, no we learnt, many valuable lessons for next year and there will be one. That is the first lesson I learnt, Westwords 2020 will be bigger and better. Today for me was a rehearsal for next year.
b) Next, I learnt that those attending will need to already have valid PLI to attend (can reccommend Graham Sykes Insurance. Tell them Carol Salter sent you) I had to pay £165 for event insurance for one day so my financial loss was more than I bargained for.
c) If you use a marquees make sure your stalls/table face the outer sides. Although its comfy to sit back inside away from the wind and weather, it puts folk off viewing your books. Once they step inside the confines of the interior there is the expectation for them to buy something and rather than face the pressure of that they avoid the whole structure completely even avoiding eye contact.
Tables facing the edges, enable to folk to glance or stop and chat, but one thing is sure they can't miss you. Experienced advertisers know that brands/books receive greater chance of sales by the gradual subliminal exposure to images. Yesterday at the promotion one little girl squealed to her mother, "Mummy I've seen that book before!" I was chuffed.
d) More advertising of the event
e) Longer notice for 'important' authors. I have four international authors requesting dates for next year already.
f) Ensure a stage and microphone is in situ, even if we have to pay for it. The surrounding customers commented how nice it was, but several were disappointed that they couldn't hear all the words.
g) To set up the Messenger group for confirmed attenders only. Or perhaps a closed Facebook Page instead. There was a lot of unnecessary chatter, so much so that we lost several people annoyed with the constant pinging as a result.
I'm sure other improvements will come calling once I begin organising. If you want to be with a chance to join us in 2020, you can leave a comment here initally.
WESTWORDS 2020 is only 365 days away (roughly)