Book Bash – Lessons Learned

This weekend was supposed to be it for me. Book Bash was going to turn my life around. Six months in the making, and the day to alter all future days finally arrived. Fifteen minutes into Book Bash – my first book signing – I could tell that my high expectations would let me down once again. I don’t know why this always comes as a surprise to me.

As someone with an (obviously) overactive imagination, pretty much every day in life is a let-down in some way. Most days, it’s not very impactful, like the café at work is out of grown-up mac and cheese, or my AppleTV won’t connect to iTunes when I sit down to watch my one allocated hour of TV a day. Yesterday was different.

Earlier this week, it dawned on me: what if I didn’t sell much? What if no one comes to my table? What if I just spent thousands of dollars for this event and end the day with the same amount of boxes to ship  that I did when I left? I knew it would be devastating. I knew my head would not be in a good place. That’s half the reason that I extended my vacation time to include Monday through Wednesday of this week. Wound-licking time.

After two and a half hours of sitting at a relatively full table of things with very few people stopping by as I looked at the steady line for the author to my left and another for the author who sat two tables away on my right, I fought to hold back tears. I had spent the day giving away not only the free samples and the free business cards/bookmarks, but also the buttons, postcards and books that I had hoped to sell to make back some of my money. I had to just to get my name out there, because there were so many good authors there – popular authors – that I couldn’t distinguish myself among the throngs of people.

Readers were creative with things to sign. Many had their Kindle and Nook covers, some had photo mattes, others had good old-fashioned autograph books like we had in elementary school, and even more still had fully assembled scrapbooks. Some had pages already decorated with pictures of my books, and others let me sign empty pages in the back. People were not looking to buy anything for me to sign, and I caught on to that quickly. I think three people bought my full-sized books, and I was grateful, although it was difficult for me to muster a smile at that point. (But I swear, I am grateful!)

I realized that Book Bash would not be a good money-making event, but it would be a good way to market myself to a lot of people who are in my target audience. That’s why I decided to start giving things away.  (Well, it was one reason. The other was so that I wouldn’t have to ship 11 boxes back to Texas.) I don’t regret this decision, and I hope that I get a few new readers for that. Some were surprised they didn’t have to pay for the prequels, and I truly think they appreciated that, so maybe they’ll put some energy into giving my books a shot.

All that being said, the best parts of this trip – and honestly, some highlights of my LIFE – were the moments that I met the readers I’d been communicating with for the past few months. Of course, some members of the close knit “bubble” (as we’ve come to call ourselves) came to meet me Friday night, and it was like meeting up with old friends. Diana, Casey, Jo Ann and Annie were exactly like I thought they’d be, and they accepted me. That had been one of my biggest worries. I also got to meet Janet, who won tickets to Book Bash from me, and it was cool to see Shamika and Millie and know EXACTLY who they were when they walked up to my table. (Facebook is amazing, people.) They were all so sweet. There were other readers – some authors, even – who had read my books. Many of them told me how Emi’s story had touched them, how they related to certain things, how the books are truly different than anything they’d read, and how much they loved them. When perfect strangers come up to you with tears in their eyes because of something good that you’ve done, there really isn’t any other feeling that can compare. I just wanted to hug them all. (I’m tearing up now just thinking about it.)

THANK YOU to all the wonderful people that I was fortunate enough to meet. The biggest lesson I learned is that it’s not about making sales or recouping costs. It’s about making an impact on peoples’ lives. It goes both ways. While readers feel like my books have touched them, those readers have given me back moments that I will savor for the rest of my life.

So what’s next? I think my head can finally return to the thing it’s good at: writing. For the past few months, I’ve had a difficult time really getting into Livvy’s head or Renee’s head. Those are the two characters I really need to focus on to release another book. I thought I’d be depressed if this didn’t go as expected, but when I finally felt the weight of Book Bash off my shoulders some time last night as I had a drink with people I will forever call my friends, there was a distinct realization: I finally felt like Livvy could worm her way into my brain again, and I knew I would be okay.

31 thoughts on “Book Bash – Lessons Learned

  1. Just a quick FYI..if it weren’t for Book Bash my life would have never been blessed with you. I ADORE you as an author, fellow artist, but most importantly a FRIEND! You ROCK Lori! xo

  2. Hi Lori!
    I feel absolutely terrible that you felt this way. I was not able to be at the Book Bash, however I have not read your books, YET. I will be picking them up as soon as I am done the one I’m reading. One of the girls that reviews for my blog Books Unhinged reviewed this series and gave it 5 stars. She rarely gives any books that rating, and high praise so I placed it in my Top TBR pile. But I just came across a review over on Alpha’s, Authors & Books Blog featuring this series that put your books next on my TBR pile. I have a feeling I will love this series because I love the tear-your-heart-out-and-stomp-on-it kind of novels 😉
    LadyBalls 5 Star review –>
    If I can do anything to help promote your books please let me know!

    1. Thank you, Stacy!! I loved the review ‘LadyBalls’ did! I’m happy a few good reviews are moving the series up your TBR list. I know there are literally thousands of options, so I really appreciate it!!

      Happy reading (although expect some tears along the way)!

  3. Hi Lori!
    I actually discovered you because of Book Bash. I was looking through all the attending authors, and I went on Goodreads and saw how good your reviews were, so I decided to check your books out…AND, because of book bash, I found a new favorite author! And then, I saw you were offering a sale from the swag bags offered there, so I went and bought all your books at half price….and plan to start them very very soon! I LOVE Emi lost and found (well, I’ve read the first one but can’t WAIT to read the other ones…and excited about Contessa) AND you signed a copy of the prequel for me…which was so nice…it was great to meet you!

    1. Hi, Leigh!! Thank you… messages like this just confirm that I’m doing the right thing – and that I made the right decisions at the signing. I’m glad you like the series so far!!

      Thanks so much for the sweet message! Happy reading!

  4. Lori – I just want to comment again because I just want you to not give up on the trade shows. Having done them (they are EXHAUSTING!!) the basic idea for most is to get the word out there about your company, or in this case, your books. It’s a way to promote yourself, and make money down the road, not necessarily at the trade show. It helps to have company there, heck, I’ll even come and sit with you and keep reminding you how awesome you and your books are.

    And just to make you feel even better – I got e-mail from Kindlehooked with a list of books (99 cents, new releases, etc) and your Lost and Found series was listed:
    EBOOKS Highly recommended to me recently by fellow bloggers and friends I trust!!

    Fading by E K Blair 2.99

    The Mourning After by Adriane Leigh 3.99

    Emi Lost & Found Series by Lori Otto 7.99 (An Awesome Deal) Complete series at 1170 pages

    Falling Into Us by Jasinda Wilder 4.99

    I was very excited for you! Don’t give up – I just think you had a different idea of what the book bash would be for you.

  5. Oh Lori, you are such a beautiful & talented author! I have read the entire Lost & Found series and absolutely loved it. You had me balling like a baby and my husband thought i was having a breakdown. Lol! Keep doing what you do because your day will come my dear. I believe you’re a shining star!

  6. Lori I’m sorry it was a disappointment to you. Life is full of difficult lessons but I love how you turned it around. JK Rowling was broke and had been turned down by many publishing houses before finaly being picked up. That’s the funny thing about life – tomorrow things can completely change. Good luck!

  7. Chin up and put one foot in front of the other Lil’ Trooper, or maybe in your case, tap one key after another. …just keep typing, just keep typing, just keep typing…

  8. Lori, I absolutely love Lost and Found! Please email me at if I can help in any way!! Our fb page is The Beckys’ Book Korner and our blog is linked on the page!! I think your books are amazing!! Hold your head high and bring us Livvy 🙂 Let me know if I can help….
    A Fan Always, Becky Nichols

  9. Hi Lori! I had emailed you a little while back to ask for the reading order of the Lost & Found books, and you were so sweet in your reply. I’m reading the second book right now (and have to keep stopping so that my baby girl – Emmy 😉 – won’t worry about why I am crying!). Like others have said above, you got your name out there and planted some seeds in the reading community that now just need to grow. I discovered most of my favorite authors when they were just starting out and were self-published with little recognition. I then watched those books really take off and the authors become well known. You have a gift to be able to write so beautifully. Just keep persevering, and I have no doubt yours will be a well-known name, too. If you are ever in the Seattle area, I’ll be first in line and will bring a big ol’ group of friends who love your stories as well! (((big hugs)))

    1. Thank you, Amy! It’s funny, we are sitting across the terminal from an Alaskan Airlines flight to Seattle, and I told my friend, Katie, we should get on that instead. I spent a day in Seattle a few years ago, and someday I’ll be back to give it the attention it deserves!!

      I hope you’re right, but either way, you’re so kind to say those things!

      And give your Emmy a big hug. 😉 ❤️

  10. As one of the readers who purchased your book at Book Bash I wanted to say thank you…and it has been the first book that I started reading last night after the event. I must have been standing behind your loyal fans in line to get in because they could do nothing but sing your praises LOUDLY! 😉 I have begun reading the prequel and am already loving the characters. Take heart–you have planted the seeds and everyone will start to notice. You did everything right your set up was beautiful and greatly I greatly appreciate all your give-aways. I could tell you were upset but keep heart and know that you can’t make a true judgement until the dust settles. You did make a new fan out of me and I’ll be recommending you to my circle of readers!

    1. Thank you!! Again, I’m crying… I think my friend Katie is going to abandon me at the airport if I keep doing it, but y’all are so sweet. I hope you enjoy the books! Please keep in touch!

  11. Couldn’t agree more with Holly ^^^^. Your day is coming. Wish I could have been there as I would’ve been at your table first. Hugs!

  12. I’m sorry it didn’t go as you had envisioned – I would have definitely come to your table if I had been able to go! Having done trade shows years ago for my travel business (which I am thankfully not in anymore), you were right when you decided it would be a way to get the word out on your books. When you are side-by-side with bigger power players, that’s all you can do. And I am sure you have accomplished that and now more people are aware of your books. I know your name and books pop up a lot when people on Maryse’s blog are looking for something different and people jump in and say how good they are. If you ever come to one in the city (or even better – Long Island lol) I will definitely try to come – even if I have to drag my son along.

  13. Lori, I just read lost and found for your tour and LOVED it!! 🙂 I am in Australia so obviously couldn’t be there, but I would ave stopped by and said hello xox
    If I can help in ANY way with promos etc contact me
    take care and rock it honey, don’t you give up!!

  14. Something I learned the hard way a long time ago, and really several times since, you very rarely know if something was life changing right away. Give it time. It’s still very possible it was life changing. People love freebies and they are more likely to read your books and share them with friends and family because of book bash. Maybe next year you will have the lines like the other authors, maybe the year after that. The only thing I know for sure is your day is coming. Just keep doing what you do. You are too good to not have a line someday soon.

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