This post is a long-overdue review of the Occoquan Arts and Crafts Show. I had a table at the show back at the beginning of October. I had a fabulous time, but not without one significant downside.
The organizer, who was otherwise fantabulous, had an email glitch that affected several vendors, including me. This meant we didn’t get the emails with the vendor setup times, when the streets would be closed to the cars, etc. She was flagged as a spammer because she sent so many emails, so her emails didn’t get through but she didn’t get the error messages. This happened even though she was using a .gov email address, which I guess is reassuring that ISPs are on their toes. But anyway, knowing that books are relatively quick to set up (compared to jewelry), I showed up an hour before the show was to begin, only to discover that the road had already been closed to cars!
My father was helping me with this event. We parked after speaking to a very kind police officer, but we were still probably a third of a mile from my booth space. We carted my tent and boxes and boxes and boxes of books and tables and my banner and everything else to my spot, and I set up the tent with the assistance of my booth neighbor while my dad went back to the car to get the rest of the stuff.
My dad is a superhero.
He hauled hundreds of pounds of books and tables and stuff in six trips (maybe more) to my spot while I set up and started selling. I think I sold my first book while he was still hauling stuff. I am very petite. Perhaps we could have done it faster if I’d helped haul too, but he didn’t want me to leave my stuff unattended and miss out on any sales.
I could not have done this by myself.
The alternate plan was for my mom to help me while my dad and Mr. Brightley stayed with CutiePants and Giggly both days. This would have been a disaster. My mom is magnificent, but she would not have been up to hauling all this stuff, and I would have had to do it. I am petite and while I’m in decent shape, it would have taken me a lot more trips while my mom isn’t as prepared to talk about my books as I am. Mr. Brightley could have done it, but we thought Giggly needed some Daddy time so we hadn’t seriously considered having him stay with me all day.
So… a very significant downside. However, this is NOT the norm for this show, and the organizer was so incredibly apologetic. I (and other vendors) recommended MailChimp or another email service to handle mass mailings in the future, so this shouldn’t happen again.
Upside: Everything else!
The show was well organized. My booth neighbors were fantastic! My lovely neighbor to my left owned a carpet shop. He was Persian and incredibly friendly and helpful. Most of the show was handmade crafts, but there were a few spaces for local businesses such as his. He helped me set up my tent while my dad was hauling things (I don’t have an EZ-Up… I have a Difficult Up. It’s really a three or four person job, but you can do it with two if you try really hard. It has a complicated top structure and really tough springs and weighs far more than I wish it did. But it’s stable and sturdy and nicer than an EZ-UP once you get it deployed.) He let me store books in his shop overnight so I didn’t have to leave them out in the humidity, let me use his restroom so I didn’t have to walk a quarter mile to the nearest portapotty, and even invited me in for Persion tea at the end of the show! The other vendors were lovely as well! I tasted fabulous macarons from Tournesol Macarons and bought lovely soap from The Soap Engineers
Oh, and the attendees? They were fantastic!
I sold books! Getting a booth was quite expensive, and books don’t have a high profit margin. I don’t expect to get rich as an author, but spending a ton of money on a big show was a bit scary… what if I didn’t sell anything? Throwing money away and wasting my time sitting around while everyone walked by uninterested would be a terrible feeling.
I write because I want to reach people. I want my books to mean something to you, the reader. I want you to care about these people I’ve imagined… they’re real to me, and I want them to be real to you too! I write to inspire you, to uplift you, to encourage you, to remind you of courage and generosity and hope and love.
I met new readers, some of whom have already emailed me about how much they loved my books.
Do you want to know how to make an author’s day? Tell them how much their writing means to you! Write an email, write a review… let me know that my writing touched you. It will make my day (or week!). It will inspire me to write more!*
Thank you, readers, for making the show a success.Thank you for taking a chance on an indie author. Thank you for caring about my characters. Thank you for your encouraging emails and your lovely reviews. Thank you for reading!
I’ve already registered to do the show next year.
*Did you know I didn’t plan to write A Fairy Promise? I thought I was done at the end of A Fairy King. But a particular review and a couple of emails from a reader helped me see that Hannah and Cadeyrn’s story wasn’t finished. Dear readers, you make a difference!