Last Wednesday and Thursday I attended the LDS Booksellers Association Convention for the first time. Because I'm still relatively new to LDS publishing, I didn't even know such a thing existed a year ago. I also had no idea what to expect.
So on Wednesday morning I went over to the exhibit hall and got my bearings. I met the people at the Covenant booth, which took up a good piece of real estate in the back corner, and then looked around at the rest of the vendors. Convention is for buyers from independent LDS bookstores, meaning any bookstore that is not a Deseret Book or a Seagull Book. These two chains are almost exclusive to the mountain west, so nearly all LDS book distribution everywhere else in the United States and Canada is through independent bookstores.
After taking a good look at the Convention itself, I headed out to do a signing. There, I was in for a shock. I'd sort of kept an eye on how well my book was doing on Deseretbook.com, but hadn't paid attention to Seagullbook.com. Hence, I had no idea I was fourth on their bestseller list, or that my book would be prominently featured on displays at the front of the store. It was a nice surprise, but a surprise all the same. At all of the signings and bookstore drop ins I did last week, the book was easy to find. In fact, it was often hard to find all the copies of it because it was on the bestseller shelf, the front display, an endcap, and quite often there was a copy in the counter display. My mother, who accompanied me on the drive up from New Mexico, became quite adept at finding them all so that I could sign them.
Another surprise was that fans showed up. I knew there wouldn't be hordes, but I rather expected to just sit at the signing table and maybe sell a copy or two to passers by. To have people show up, looking for me specifically, was rather stunning. It would appear my fan base is women in their late teens and early to mid twenties, which is about what I expected. Still, it was very nice to see their enthusiastic responses.
I also got the chance to run into Traci Hunter Abramson and Jeri Gilchrist when we all dropped in on the same store. Traci was great to talk to, with her background in national security, and Jeri was wonderfully kind, going immediately to buy my book and have me sign it.
Some other surprises: Men bought the book from me. (The cover is so not geared towards men. I mean... it's pink.) All of the bookstore managers and most of the employees knew who I was at once. (Okay, not surprising if you know the book was on the bestseller list, but I hadn't known.) Covenant does royalties in August. (The check arrived while I was out of town and my husband read me the sales report. Suffice it to say I've met this year's goal of earning enough to buy an air conditioner, and this from two months of sales. They will drop off sharply from here on out, I think, but still!) My editor is really tall. (Well, taller than she looks on her Facebook profile, but I guess everyone there looks about two inches high. It was great meeting her face to face.) One of the other editors at Covenant is an SF fan. (He asked me how on Earth I got into my writer's group, as he knew of the other members. A fair question. :-)
All in all, a very nice introduction to the world of LDS publishing. I've still got a lot to absorb, but last week definitely steepened my learning curve.