It’s just after 4am here in Virginia, and soon, P and I will head to the adorable Charlottesville airport to catch our plane to DC and then on to Seattle. I couldn’t be more excited, which is why I can actually type at this pitch-black, not-enough-coffee hour.
Still, I am sad about one thing with AWP this year – the fact that I don’t have the same level of access to promotional options for The Slaves Have Names as people who have traditional publishers do. Of course, I could buy a table at the Book Fair like other folks, but I just can’t afford that.
Plus, last year I saw a self-published author there with his book. I actually bought a copy but mostly because I felt sorry for him. He didn’t have much traffic to his table, probably because he only had one book to sell. It wasn’t a pretty sight to tell the truth. Not to mention that the poor man had to miss most of the conference because it was only him – no staff, no student volunteers to help with the table. (I know this is also true for some of the literary journals and publishers, too, of course, but it just felt particularly poignant with this gentleman.)
What I wish existed at AWP and other major conferences was a way for self-published authors to connect with one another to get a table at the fair. That way, we could take turns staffing the table, have a nice display of our books, and help disperse the costs for table fees and shipping among a group. Maybe I should suggest that to someone.
Of course, I could have been on a panel as a way of getting my name out, and I actually tried. I put forward a panel proposal that included several of us who make our livings off of writing and writing-related activities like editing, ghost writing, and teaching, but that panel was turned down. I had a couple of well-known writers on the proposed panel with me, but I also added a couple of folks just breaking into the publishing world – I expect that we didn’t have enough cache to seem a viable use of prime real estate. I understand that fact, but it also underscores how hard it is for self-published folks to get a voice in big venues like AWP.
That said, I feel no resentment to AWP – after all, I think the organizers do a spectacular job. Plus, I know that AWP will – in time – respond to the credibility of self-publishing, or at least I hope they will.
I just know that this is one of the realities of self-publishing – the access to certain marketing opportunities is just not available. We have to make our own way.
Now, who do I contact about starting a self-publishing consortium for next year’s book fair in Minneapolis?
As a self-published author, are there any places where you feel you have less access or are closed out of marketing opportunities?