Category Archives: Book Festivals

Festival Recap

How It Began

DIF 2017. Missing: Brenna Briggs, Therese Gilardi, Ben Anderson

First, let me say the people at the Dayton Celtic Festival were very good to me. They stopped by to talk about Ireland and genealogy, and which books of mine they’ve read. They bought a lot of books, and it was my privilege to be able to sign them for folks. They were also good at making St. Brigid’s crosses! Excellent students. 🙂 Heather has worked hard to grow the Cultural Area, and she is a delight.

But the week brought some tough news for no less than five people in various walks of my life: cousins, prayer partners, my son’s National Guard unit (there was a fatal car accident), and one of the festival authors who normally would have been at the Dublin Festival. Really, really tough stuff.

So when I got to the Dublin Festival, I admit I was not in the best of moods. And then our tent looked backwards to us. We were convinced no one would find us this year, and Friday sales were slim.

But, there are some fantastic authors in that tent. Add in some Irish humor from a couple of the new authors, and things got better. As a whole the festival was very good for me, and I hear it was for the other authors as well. The fantastic weather on Saturday brought a ton of people to the festival and at times our tent filled up with book browsers.

I just found out what happens when a writer leaves her computer for a weekend. #connecting… Click To Tweet

The Readers Show Up

Oh, my goodness. I talked to so many interesting people. I can’t begin to describe all the conversations I had, so I’ll just share a few.

This young woman, Rebecca, has become a big fan. She’s read the entire Ellis Island Series, and is currently reading Brigid of Ireland. She picked up Pages of Ireland at the festival. She makes me think I better get a move on with the next novel! She’s so faithful to email me, read my newsletter, and show up at my appearances. It’s for readers like Rebecca that I’ve written these stories.

This is Jessica Krcal. She stopped by because her boss sent her. You see her boss, Lexi, is my friend from my youth group days. And she doesn’t live in Ohio. Neither does Jessica. They are in Virginia. Jessica was visiting family and planned to come to the festival. When Lexi heard that, she said go see my friend Cindy. So she got this photo to show her boss she followed up. 🙂

And I met a young woman named Autumn, who had bought a book last year. I had a nice chat with her and her friend. Turns out Autumn works for a book printer and they do work for Tyndale, one of my publishers!

Another woman popped in to tell me she bought Brigid of Ireland the weekend before in Dayton. She said she enjoyed it and read it in two days!

A few readers who get my newsletter and/or follow me on Facebook stopped by to tell me that. A young woman who was named after St. Brigid decided she must get Brigid of Ireland. I talked to several people about places in Ireland and about their genealogy. I signed a copy of Brigid for a young girl whose mother a few months ago gave birth prematurely. Her dad told us a bit of the struggle that family is having but things are improving and they are coping. Several people told us how very much they love books!

And then these folks stopped by.

Can you see what is on the leash?

Yes, I Did Talk

I had a talk on Saturday titled, Turning Novels Into Novels. I read excerpts from my books. There was a decent size audience and they were attentive, which is always nice. 🙂 On Sunday the group was smaller, but still attentive and even asked some good questions. That topic was The Ancient Books of Ireland, a bit of the research I enjoyed doing that didn’t make it into my novels.

So, Pretty Good!

Even with the bad hair days I had.

I also enjoyed catching up with some vendors I know. I met a new lady too. She makes embroidered designs copied from grave markers in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales, and frames them. She told me how she got this inspiration, and how she kept dreaming about these designs until she landed on the idea to make them into wall hangings and then the dreams stopped. She doesn’t want them on clothing. She wants to respect the original intent of the families who erected these markers. She lives here in Ohio.

And Tom and I enjoyed the festival finale before we went home and fell exhausted into our bed. I have since received some emails and Facebook messages from readers, and fun chatter with the authors and Barb, our author’s corner coordinator who is so good to us. Oh, and one more thing I want to mention: The Book Loft!  Julie, Sean, Josh, and Ross, are such nice people not to mention knowledgable about all kinds of books. If you are in Columbus don’t miss visiting the unique book shop, The Book Loft.

Because I Don’t Get Out Much

SharingWriting is by necessity a solitary endeavor. So it’s great to get out and meet the people who will read your books. And connect with friends and family who came to the festival. I’ve heard it said that to write a novel people will want to read, you have to have experiences, which means you can’t stay behind your desk all the time! This time of the summer and fall is my time to do that. Make sure you get my newsletter to find out what else is in store.

Been to any good festivals lately? Tell me about it in the comments.

3 Things I Wish I’d Said at the Book Festival

Cindy Thomson and Karen Harper

With author Karen Harper at Ohioana 2017

Yesterday I enjoyed appearing at the Ohioana Book Festival in Columbus, Ohio, a festival I’ve appeared at for several years now. It’s a great time to meet new readers, reconnect with those who have read my books, and mingle with other authors, bookstore owners, librarians, and book lovers. This year I was asked to be on a panel with other authors who have published both traditionally and independently. There was a lot of discussion, but there were a few things that didn’t get said.

 

If you are AN AUTHOR WHO WANTS SOME ADVICE ABOUT THE PROCESS, this post is for you!

What I Wish I'd Said about Self-publishing at the book festival panel. #indiepublishing… Click To Tweet

1. Don’t Rush to Publication

flickr by Ann Arbor District Library

I get it. It’s discouraging when you learn how long a publisher takes to get a book out. You just want your book to be launched to the world, and you don’t want it to take sooooo loooong! While doing it yourself will most likely get your book to the marketplace quicker than a traditional publisher would, don’t rush the process. Take the time needed to polish your book, to send it to critique partners and early readers, to get it to an editor, to make changes, to perfect the book cover and title, to get some reviews and endorsements prior to publishing, and to create some pre-publication buzz. You will also need time to review proof copies, make any necessary changes, and wait for the first copies to be printed and shipped to you.

I don’t know how many times I’ve heard a self-published author say something like, “I need to get my next book out by September and it’s already July and I only have half of it written.” No, no, no! Stop it! That’s just not enough time to do all the things I’ve listed above. Remember, you are in charge. Not having a deadline forced on you is one of the advantages of doing it yourself. No one is insisting you have your book out by a certain date. You may be shooting for something like launching it at a book festival or getting it out before you have knee surgery, but plan for that way in advance. Rushing never produces anything good. I’m sure your parents told you that when you were younger. That advice never goes out of style.

2. Carefully Consider the Title and Cover

flickr by Karen

Get second opinions, lots of them. I have seen (I’m sure you have too) many terrible covers done by indie authors on their own computers. The fact is, we do judge books by their covers. If you are not an accomplished artist, don’t do it. You don’t want to risk having your cover show up on one of these sites. There are stock images sites, and photo sharing sites where you can get images for low cost or for free that are high resolution. For print books your image must be high resolution. But even if you use a quality image, choosing the best font type, size, and color requires a practiced eye. You may think you know what looks good, but obviously many people are getting it wrong. You will also need to consider how it will look online as a thumbnail and how the spine will look. The genre of your book should be considered. Look at others that sell well and study them.

I worked with an artist and saved money by bartering some writing services. I have gotten many compliments on my covers. Most people don’t realize that this cover:

Sofia's Tune by Cindy Thomson

Book Three, Ellis Island Series

was not created by the publisher who did these two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The most important thing I wish I’d had time to talk about….

3. Get a Professional Editor

During the panel discussion it was mentioned that you’d need to either hire someone or get friends who are really good at it to edit your manuscript. No, no, no! Stop it! Please don’t think your friends, even avid readers and college professors, can edit your books. They may make it better and serve a valuable role in the process, but you need to finish with a pro in order to produce a professional product, one in which the reader doesn’t even notice the editing. Yes, that costs money. Again, planning ahead is critical. Having had some wonderful editors with my traditional books, I knew how valuable that process is. You do need to pay people for the work they do for you. Save your money. Do some freelance magazine writing, take on an extra job, Some people are using crowd funding. I did a little of that with Sofia’s Tune (thank you, contributors!) For my next book I won a grant I applied for to pay for one of the best editors out there.

Flickr by Seth Sawyers

Anything less than a professional editor will result in a book that is less than it could have been. Who wants that? Even if your book is free from typos and grammatical errors, an editor will have feedback about flow, about the organization, clarity, and word choice. Once you’ve worked with a professional editor, you will understand that a good editor will make you look smarter, and just generally help you be a better writer than you ever thought you could be. Don’t skip it. Don’t skimp. Just don’t.

But here’s an advantage you will have by publishing on your own. You will most likely use a publishing platform like Create Space. Your print books will be print on demand. If you find a mistake you can temporary take that title down, fix the mistakes, and re-post it. Your changes can also be made to your ebooks. By not having thousands printed like a traditional publisher would do, you will not have thousands of books with your name out there with errors.

I should say a word here about copy editors. If you don’t know the difference between a copy editor and a substantive editor, that’s enough to tell you you need a pro. I had a great edit for Sofia’s Tune. I put the book out there. And then I kept finding typos and misspellings that we’d both missed. Not the editor’s fault. She was not doing a copy edit. I happen to have a friend named John who is great at finding those things. He even found mistakes when I was re-publishing a traditionally published book that went out of print that the original editors had not caught. John now goes over all my self-published books at the very end, right before I send them to a formatter (which is another service I hired out. Not expensive and so worth it since ebooks and print books have to be formatted differently.) Try as you might, you WILL miss things in your manuscript. So will your mother and best friend (unless John is your best friend.) Trust me on this.

So Now I Said It

Those are the things I wish I’d said to the room full of writers who came to the panel. They might not read it here, but just in case, I wanted to try. And I hope others stop by to learn a little of what I’ve learned along the way. (And I’m still learning!) Let me know if you have any questions!

 

4 Reasons I Love Book Festivals

Cindy Thomson, Sandy Hart, Books by the Banks

Me with friend and fellow author Sandy Hart who came to see me at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati.

1. A Book Festival is About Readers

It’s not about the authors, regardless of how it might seem. Book festivals are an opportunity for readers to meet authors and ask questions. And boy do readers have questions. I absolutely love that! Everything from why did you write this book to what did you learn while researching this story?

2. It’s a Celebration of Books!

Everyone comes to learn, to gather, to shop for gifts, and they are all there because of books! Children’s books, young adult books, fiction, non fiction, art books, illustrated books, wee books and heavy coffee table books. Librarians, artists, and writers. It’s an atmosphere charged with creativity.

3. I Get Away From My Desk

Cindy Thomson at Books By The Banks in Cincinnati

I was asked to describe myself in one word.

Writing is for the most part a solitary undertaking. Getting out and talking to readers energizes me for the long hours ahead. If I know who I’m writing for, that people are actually enjoying my tales, I feel better about getting writer’s cramp and drinking so much tea while I work. (Well, okay, indulging in so much chocolate too. It’s a necessity.)

4. New Readers are Introduced to My Characters

It’s hard to get noticed these days in the vast ocean of books out there. Going to a book festival enables me to say, hey, here are some new stories you might want to try, to people who might not otherwise run across them. It’s marketing, yes, but for me it’s mostly sharing. Some are not interested, and that’s fine. At least we got to exchange smiles.

What About You? Have you been to a book festival? Which one? What did you like about it? If not, would you consider it sometime? (Just Google book festivals in your area or ask your local librarian where they are.)