Sunday, December 9, 2007

Connecticut Authors Do the Big E

CAPA at the Big E

by Peggy Gaffney

This was the first experience for CAPA member to market their books through a booth at the Big E and I thought I’d share my experience.

On Tuesday I was scheduled for the afternoon-evening session and when Debbie Kilday and I arrived, the booth was busy so we explored before it was our time to take over. Once we got going, there was a flow of people interested in the books, CAPA and the whole concept of authorship. People were very friendly and they for the most part were looking for fiction (primarily mysteries), history, travel, and children’s picture books. Though they were fascinated with my knitting books, they weren’t selling.

The six hour session went relatively quickly because people stopped to talk and check out the books. Everyone who showed any interest was given a contact list with the names and books of the authors involved and their websites or email.

The only real surprise for me is the people who when asked if they’d like to know more about the books, told me point blank that they didn’t read books or that they hated to read. This concept was new to me and I feel really sorry for them. Luckily there weren’t many of them.

Driving home from the Big E at the end of the session was a challenge in that they are repaving I91 and what should have been a 50 minute trip became a 90 minute stop and go session.

However, I was up again the next morning to do a double shift at the CAPA booth. I brought my knitting so I wouldn’t get bored, and shared the morning session with Elizabeth Faragher. Elizabeth was the “featured author” first and did a land office business with her beautifully illustrated children’s book “Off to the Fair.” It was the perfect sell for the day because people connected the fair experience. The crowds were constant and the booth was full of browsers all day.

This was Connecticut Day and there were many people from the state walking through. The interest in CAPA was very high. It seams that everyone has a book inside him just waiting for someone to show him how to get it published. I chatted with people from my old home town and my present one.

When it came my time to be “featured author” I was glad to sit down. I got out my knitting and my sweaters and books and began talking to everyone who stopped to look. There was a lot of interest in books coming in the future and the pattern they could order off the website. I even had a bunch of people interested in ordering custom knit sweaters. However, I discovered as the day progressed, that though there was a lot of interest in the topic of my books, there were very few knitters visiting the Big E that day. However, as the day continued, my pitch changed to having them pass on my card to friends and relatives who were much more my target market. I gave out well over a hundred cards that day.

The high points of the day came later. Elizabeth had finished her shift and Jan Mann had taken over. Miss Connecticut came through with her publicist and explored the booth checking out the children’s books. Then about four o’clock, Governor Rell and her group came through. She loved the booth and my books. One of her aids took a few photos of me with the Governor and Jan got a chance to talk with her as well.

Jan’s session as “featured author” ended the day and she sold a number of books to people interested in the concept of Cruising Connecticut with a Picnic Basket. I was able to get shots of people visiting the booth while I was sharing more information about the group.

All in all, I’d say it was a good experience. Lots of positive contacts were made. The word got out that there is a large group of authors available for talks in Connecticut, and as the manager of the building said, CAPA give’s the Connecticut Building “a touch of class. “

At the end of the day I was left feeling that it had been worthwhile. As for the booth as a place to make money, I’d say it depends on the type of book you sell. General fiction, non-fiction and children’s books are the best sell for this crowd.

The trip home took 2 hours and 10 minutes, so I hope if we do this next year, they won’t feel the need to repave in September.

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