Asheville Literary Reunion

The Asheville Literary Reunion was held on Saturday, November 1, 2014, at the Asheville Event Centre in Asheville, NC. I attended the event with J’son M. Lee, Owner & President of Sweet Georgia Press, LLC.

We awoke to a snowstorm, and were immediately concerned about reader turnout. The hotel staff, who were extremely polite and accommodating, eased our anxiety. They explained the weather was customary for the season.

J’son and I arrived at the venue and were impressed. Many of the other vendors were already setting up their tables. We set up our shared table, and were ready to sell by the scheduled 10:00 a.m. inception.

Twenty minutes passed, and the first book club arrived. The Literary Divas of Spartanburg were greeted with thunderous applause and hearty salutations from the participants. Unfortunately, The Literary Divas of Spartanburg were the only book club to attend.

Joylynn M. Ross (author E.N. Joy) was prepared with her children’s book, The Secret Olivia Told Me, along with materials and activities for her 11:00 a.m. “Children’s Moment.” The session was canceled as there were no children in attendance.

J’son M. Lee facilitated an inspiring seminar, “Editing 101: The Fundamentals of Editing.” The session began at 1:30 p.m. instead of the scheduled 1:00 p.m. start time. Each attendee walked away with an editing manual, J’son’s Editing 101 interview with DC Bookdiva (on CD), and a greater understanding of editing essentials.

J.M. Benjamin conducted an informative “Marketing & Distribution Boot Camp,” which gave attendees insight on out-of-the-box promotional and distribution strategies. The workshop started later than scheduled, and ran longer than planned; however, attendees departed with an arsenal of marketing tips to add to their promotional campaign.

Though the Asheville Literary Reunion was a 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. event, participants were packed and leaving hours earlier than expected due to the low reader turnout. Since we could not attribute the low attendance to weather conditions, several attendees concluded it was due to insufficient promotion.

Over a year ago, we were told by the organizers, Allyson M. Deese, Isaiah David Paul and Solomon Waterwine, LLC, that their campaign would include marketing to residents of Asheville, NC and surrounding states, radio (BlogTalkRadio and local NC radio stations), church outreach, Sip & Reads, an online bookstore, print (party fliers and cards), local newspapers, as well as other marketing initiatives. To the contrary, many believed the hosts relied primarily on social media platforms.

The event was touted as a literary “reunion,” and it turned out to be just that. If indeed this was a literary reunion, it should have been structured whereas sales were not the perceived priority. Many participants expected to recoup their incidentals through sales. Instead, sales were minimal and the majority of purchases came from participants supporting each other. J’son M. Lee and J.M. Benjamin accomplished more from a business standpoint, as they both serve to gain clientele as well as book sales since their respective seminars were major hits.

All in all, the scenic views, venue, hotel, lunch, and vendor representation were first-rate. Allyson and Isaiah were hospitable and attentive, and hosted an informative event. Had more readers been present, the Asheville Literary Reunion would have been a greater success.

Each opportunity is a learning experience, and I’m sure Allyson and Isaiah will work much harder to make sure the reader turnout for 2015 is satisfactory. I will continue to support the Asheville Literary Reunion, and help promote next year’s event.

Thank you, Allyson and Isaiah, for being such gracious hosts, and becoming part of my ever-growing literary family!

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