Saturday, May 14, 2011

7 Things I Learned at the New Life Expo

San Francisco hosted the 2011 New Life Expo—current name of the Whole Life Expo popularized in the 1970s. Its function is to bring together like-minded people fascinated with the metaphysical world. Venders displayed health products while authors sold books.

Long tables arranged in a horseshoe acted as the bookstore. I took this pattern to be a lucky sign—books were still cherished. Consuming literature at lunchtime in the organic food court was a favorite pastime for attendees.

Participating as a guest speaker taught me seven important lessons as an author.

1. Speakers sell books. Gone are the days when solitary authors wrote while publishing houses marketed. Conventionally and self-published authors who were speakers sold more books than nonparticipating authors who only submitted books to the bookstore.

2. Bring your own equipment—come prepared—be organized, and flexible. Murphy’s Law always looks for opportunities to manifest. Even if the information sent by coordinators promises to “provide everything,” come prepared to have nothing.
Many speakers found that they had no audio or visual equipment, including extension cords. Fortunately, we brought back-up equipment. An exasperated keynote speaker turned to Peter and begged, “What would it take to borrow your equipment?”
Conventions are fast-paced. Speakers had fifteen minutes to set up equipment and forty-five minutes to present materials. Problem solving cut into presentation time. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and you will be ready for Murphy’s Law.

3. Many keynote speakers were not paid. Some received compensation for their travel and hotel expenses. Top-Draw speakers, such as Greg Braden, author of Fractal Time, were hired. However, there are three important goals for all speakers:

• Develop name recognition in a celebrity driven arena. Speakers who had recognition commanded fees.

• Collect email and contact information from your audience. Teachers pass around lined paper to collect attendance. Before beginning your presentation, start a clipboard on both sides of the room for names and emails. I wrote PLEASE PRINT AND PASS ON at the top and the audience did the work.

• Tape your presentation with a live audience in a professional setting. Post it on your website for purchase. A video can be more cost effective to followers than a ticket, hotel and travel expenses. It can offset your costs, provide subject credibility, and advertise you as a keynote speaker at a National Convention.

4. Readers still cherish autographed books. Moreover, they will stand in long lines to get one. Although e-reader have many advantages, one disadvantage seemed clear. E-readers do not contain personally autographed books. Fans still travel to interface with authors and collect autographs. Authors who held book signings sold more copies. People still like to see and handle books, even if they choose to order them later as e-books. My husband spoke on Quantum Spirituality and sold all of his copies of POPE ANALISA ten minutes after his presentation—which brings me to the next lesson.

5.Don’t bring more books than you plan to sell. They are heavy and costly to transport. We checked Peter’s books as airline baggage. It was cheaper than paying shipping fees. Carrying your book under your arm is a conversation piece and a great way to network.

6. Network at every opportunity and always carry business cards. Stay at affordable hotels suggested by Expo online information. Power-Breakfasts are networking opportunities. After my breakfast was interrupted by a fire drill, I was invited to guest speak on dreams with another keynote speaker. While standing in the parking lot, I chatted and exchanged emails and business cards with Expo coordinators. Once we piled back into the building, we found more common ground—a cup of coffee.

7. Take a mobile GPS! Unless you are a native, you will need more than a map to drive the road systems of San Francisco. You may want to ignore the “No Left Turn” signs, but resistance is futile. A satellite-based navigation system consisting of a network of twenty-four orbiting satellites, eleven thousand nautical miles in space was barely enough to get us to our destination—a fresh crab dinner on the docks. San Francisco’s one-way streets and few left-hand turns made Boston’s hometown, horse-trail, Big-Dig streets feel like a walk in Central Park.

“I won’t make two right turns and then drive straight to go left in this town!” Peter yelled at the GPS. He continued to search for a legal left turn while it continued to repeat, “Recalculating. Recalculating.”

Eventually, Peter did the unthinkable! He made two right turns and then drove straight. “When in Rome…,” he muttered.

San Francisco had won.