This year's conference will be a little different when it comes to the Book Signing we traditionally have on Saturday evening. In 2009, ONLY faculty will be included in the signing. I was responsible for organizing the event in 2008 and I saw several things that made me think about the best way to approach it in 2009.
Now, wait, before you tell me how unfair this is, let me explain the logic behind the decision.
Most of the authors that participated in the book signing last year fell into several categories: newly published, self-published or published with a small press. By putting them into the same time slot, and in the same room, with more established and well-known authors, I felt I'd done them an injustice. People were flocking to the known, best-selling authors and simply chatting with the non-faculty authors on their way to front of the line. I think this did several unfair things to our non-faculty authors.
1. It killed confidence. It's not easy to be new in this business and being in a signing with people like Lee Goldberg and Michael Connelly does nothing to ease new author jitters. It was loud and crowded and hard to talk to people who might be interested in your book. Plus, the potential reader already had his goal in mind: A personalized signed copy of The Brass Verdict.
2. This conference is for writers first and readers second. Let's be frank---The room was filled with wanna-be authors. It's hard to get their attention onto your book when they're scouting out their dream agent and trying to get tips from established pros.
3. It did nothing to highlight the accomplishments of non-faculty authors. Let's face it, this is a hard business to break into and you don't want to be completely overshadowed by the veterans. Your project, be it a novel or a board book, is unique and special and worthy of attention---specialized attention that was impossible to get in such a crowded place.
So, what's the solution?
This year, for a modest fee of $100 (most of which goes straight to the hotel), you can get your very own AUTHOR TABLE. It will be yours for the duration of the conference (Friday-Sunday). You can man the table as little, or as much, as you want. You can sign books, give out bookmarks, and hawk your book(s). It's a great opportunity to meet new readers and you won't be competing with NYT#1 Bestsellers. It will give you a chance to SHINE.
We want to celebrate each accomplishment of our members and I think this is an excellent way to do it.