The Dan Emmett Music & Arts Festival is history. Well, until 2015 that is. It was both an excellent and an okay festival (more on that in a minute), and I hope to get back next year with some new books and do better, though we’ll see how that goes.
The okay part I attribute to not making back my half of the table cost. Authors do these events for two big reasons: money and exposure. The exposure part comes pretty easy since all you have to do is sit there, talk to the people who come by the table, talk to your booth neighbors, and generally not be a dick. The money part is harder, since you’ve paid for the space (plus any setup materials you have to bring such as a table, canopy, chairs, books). You need to sell enough books to cover those costs, and I didn’t. Every author is different how they incorporate those costs into their bottom line, and for me, I don’t include the canopy or the chairs or the table (because I’ll use those items in non-business settings, too); I go by book sales alone. I missed my cost by $1.50, which isn’t bad considering it was my first year and no one knows how a pretty conservative crowd is going to react to dark fiction about zombies, wizards, and all things bloody disgusting. This is why it’s not a big surprise to see I nearly sold out of Men of Five, my novella that deals with faith of all sorts, including faith in a higher power, and I only sold a single copy of Necromancer, dark urban fantasy about wizards and magic.
The excellent part of the weekend goes to spending time with family and friends. My wife is a champion when it comes to taking care of me and anyone else at the table by bringing down food, supplies, and helping with setup and tear down. During the normal hustle and bustle of work and life and raising the boys together, it’s easy to forget how awesome her support is. My dad was in town for the weekend, so he was able to spend some time at the table and see how it’s done. I also got to spend four days with awesome author Violet Patterson, and seriously people, if you’re into urban and epic fantasy, you need to check her work out. It’s nice to find a table partner you can work so effortlessly with, and we had a great time. Of course, part of that is attributed to drinking A LOT of beer Saturday night (sorry dad!).
Some people might ask why I’m looking forward to next year if I didn’t make my money back, my books were frowned upon, and it’s a valid question, one I’ve already asked myself. First, I didn’t lose a ton of money. It was a buck and a half, total, and I can’t even buy a bottle of pop with that. Also, as my first year, I can better plan for a second year as to what sells, what doesn’t, how to bring more people into the space where I’m selling. A little different approach can make all the difference. But money and family/friends aside, the festival itself made the decision easier. We had plenty of room since the organizers didn’t stack vendors right on top of each other. There was a good two feet clearance between us and our neighbors. The festival provided free water to the vendors (that little girl WAS THE BEST!), trashcans between every other space, and since it’s a music festival, there was always something to listen to. Of course, not every band or performer was great, but it was still all day entertainment. Most festivals are not that considerate to their vendors. With all that, the Dan Emmett earned another year from me and then I’ll analyze it again and see if year three is something to do as well.