MNSpec Invades the 2012 Bloomington Writers’ Festival and Book Fair

MNSpec Authors at the Bloomington Writer's Festival. Photo by Terry Faust http://www.faustphotography.biz/

The Minnesota Speculative Fiction Writers’ group hosted a table at the 2012 Bloomington Writers’ Festival and Book Fair. It’s a great event, put on by the Bloomington Theater and Art Center. I’ve attended for the past couple years, and the event continues to grow and attract people from all corners of the writing and publishing industries.

Dana Baird was on hand with her brand new book, Broken Legacy. Michael Merriam was our anchor, working the table from open to close, and administrating matters financial. Jason Wittman brought along his very tiny books, the size of postage stamps (by far the most popular item, and winner of ‘Most Units Shifted’.) Terry Faust helped with setup and provided a lovely lamppost to help guide the masses to our table. I brought copies of The Blackness Within, which contains my short story, Big Game.

QR codes were a given, along with free snacks and/or giveaways at most tables. I watched one person who walked up and down the rows, filling a bag with all the free stuff he could carry. My contribution to the MNSpec free snack fund was Apple Pie Gum, but no one wanted a piece. No one. Not even the guy who was loading up on freebies. I eventually broke down and tried a piece myself. It was like stuffing ten whole apple pies in your mouth for thirty seconds, then it magically turned into a bland rubber piece off an old shoe.

I sat in on two seminars. The Evolution of E-books was the more interesting of the two, and I can sum it up in one word: Apps. Instead of the “epub” format, some publishers are turning their books into apps for Android, I-phone, Nook, Kindle, etc. I’d compare it to the current “3-D” trend of movies, extra fluff that costs big bucks, with little more than “gee whiz” factor as a payoff. Publishers can afford to shell out for flash animators and app programmers, while indie/self publishers might be more limited in this capacity. Should be interesting to see where this goes.

The Future of Publishing seminar was disappointing. Most of the discussion was lost in waxing romantic about social media, and discussing the fate of indie bookstores. I dared to ask a (on topic) question about whether author exclusivity with amazon/i-tunes/bn.com might become a more common factor in the future of publishing, but it was quickly brushed off as if “yes, yes, we all know that.” Oh, I’m sorry, let’s go back to talking about Twitter, because that IS the future of publishing. I had a much more enjoyable, informative (and Free) discussion after that seminar with fellow MNSpec members Randy Holland and Kiernan Gladman.

All in all, the event is a great networking opportunity, and not such a great event for sales. Seminars are hit-or-miss.  The crowd was mostly older folks, and the tables were a mix of authors and author resources, but weighted heavily toward self-published authors, and self-publishing support. I’d recommend this FREE event to anyone who wants a jump-start on the summer author festivals.

Check out Bloomington Writer’s Festival on Facebook.

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Conrad Zero

Yours Darkly, Conrad Zero