Back in 2011, when I was newly published with only three titles out, I needed to find a way to be found. Take a hard look at reality: with well over a million new ISBNs generated every year, the pool of available books is literally getting deeper by the minute. I'm standing in the midst of it all, treading water, waving my hands, and shouting my own name ~ but who can hear me?
Everyone says that the best promo is good word of mouth. I thought about that and made a decision: I would create my own romance reader event ~ Arizona's only one, by the way ~ and bring the readers to me. Why not?
And, because I strongly believe in helping others along the way, I tapped two dozen relatively new romance authors, and pulled them in with me.
The concept was simple: I bring four of my fans, you bring four of yours, and we cross-pollinate. We help each other out. Easy peasy.
Only it wasn't.
Turns out, there are a lot of authors who don't "get" promotion. Authors who don't think to toot their own horns, much less someone else's. Whose visions are really quite tiny. Yet I pressed on, linking arms with a couple gals who understood what needed to be done. Though much smaller than we hoped, the very first Arizona Dreamin' was nonetheless an huge hit.
Along the way, I knew that just helping other authors wasn't enough, we needed to make some sort of impact on the world outside of ourselves. We needed a charity.
I was in line at a Starbucks when I said that out loud. The woman in front of me turned around and said, "No one ever picks my charity."
"What charity?" I asked.
"Huntington's Disease Society of America."
I grinned at her. "Give me the contact information. That will be our charity." Just like that, it was done.
I felt bad, then, when our inaugural event was so sparsely attended. Even so, we raised $350, and I sent the check the next week.
What happened next, really surprised me. I received two emails from the HDSA headquarters in Los Angeles, thanking me profusely for the donation.
Really? It was only $350. For someone like Susan G Komen, that wouldn't even buy the staff coffee for the week. But these women were truly grateful. And I was truly glad to have helped.
In Arizona Dreamin's second year, our attendance grew by 50% and we raised $550.
When this blog posts, we will have JUST completed our third annual event. We grew in attendance by another 50%, and expect that will be reflected in our donation. I'll comment when this blog posts and reveal the final amount.
As for the authors, some of them have been with me from the start and we are growing together. There are no egos here, but a genuine understanding that the best way to help ourselves is to help others. In fact, this year we added an aspiring-writer sister event, Buildin' the Dream, whose subtitle is "Authors Helping Authors."
Might you join us next year? We are doing good ~ and having a blast!
Buildin' the Dream: May 29-30, 2014 (BuildinTheDream.com)
Arizona Dreamin': May 30-Jun 1, 2014 (ArizonaDreaminEvent.com)