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A Fiction Author at Master Gardener Conference

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Because my books have a gardening theme, I often attend garden & foodie events, as well as trade shows large and small. This is a no-brainer for non-fiction titles. My book series, Seed Savers, however, is fiction. It’s always a bit of a challenge to get passers-by to realize the books are fiction, despite my many signs and display of the book covers.

Seed Savers is a series of five books set in a not-so-distant future where gardening and saving seeds is illegal. All the food is processed and the children don’t know what real food is. The government and big corporations are united and have total control of the food supply.

This week I had a booth at the International Master Gardener Conference. My husband and I staffed the booth, complete with prize spinning wheel and book-related merchandise, in addition to my books, of course.

It was a very different experience than the Heirloom Expo, where I’ve had a booth for the past three years. The trade show was much smaller, in that there were many fewer vendors. The potential buyers were also fewer. Though open to the public for several hours a day, not a lot of the public stopped in. So basically, the people walking by were many of the same people for three days.

I was worried, at first, that after great sales the first day, no one would come by on the next two days. What happened, in fact, was that some customers bought book 1 and started reading it while at the conference! One person came back and bought the rest of the series before leaving. Another person bought the whole set for her daughter and stopped by on the last day to tell me her daughter had already read the first book and half of the second, and loved them! That was very encouraging.

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Some of you authors considering trade shows related to your books might be wondering if it’s worth it.

I usually consider a wide-reaching trade show a success if I break even (or come close). Why? Because of the personal connections you make. In my case, I truly believe my books fit nicely into gardening classes, clubs, etc., for kids. And while there are many fine fiction and nonfiction gardening picture books, there are very few novels. I want to get the word out to folks who might be looking for a book like mine.

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It was a first-class event with fancy lunch and wait staff.

The Master Gardener Conference is great because delegates come from all over the United States and Canada. That’s why I only need to break even on sales. Because I’m also there to meet people. (And don’t forget to have people sign up for your newsletter!)

I could make this a “How To” on trade shows post (and I will if someone wants me to), but I think there are plenty of those already out there. I pretty much just wanted to let you know what I’ve been up to and to share some fun pictures.

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The decor for the show were decorated bicycles from various Oregon county Master Gardener associations. They were awesome! In fact, there are so many great photos, I think I’ll share more in a second post.

A bonus for me at this conference was that I got to meet a Master Gardener Seed Savers fan from Florida with whom I’ve been corresponding for a few years!

This is Carol.

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I almost forgot to mention that my booth was in a prime location: near the entrance, across from lunch, and I paid extra for a corner, meaning I had two sides to greet the public. Here’s a panorama of the day lunch was served a tad bit late and the people milling around, waiting.

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Okay, now for the fun bicycles brought to us from different counties in Oregon, and more coming in the next post!

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Some were simply lovely like this entry from Wasco County.

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Or appetizing, like this one from Douglas County with wine in the front and ice cream in the back!

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How about a bike of driftwood from Curry County?

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I love the mossy seat and fins for pedals for Josephine County!

 

S. Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on TwitterSign up for the newsletter!

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