|Rick Barry at the 2012 IAHE convention|
"Wait, what kind of convention?" I asked.
"Every year there are special conventions just for homeschool families. You should check into them. You could sell your own books. Thousands of people come."
Check into them I did. Unfortunately, it was too late to get into the 2011 schedules. The closer ones were already history. However, I Googled until I found the right mailing list and subscribed. When the 2012 convention year rolled around, I discovered an unfortunate truth: Renting my own table to display my books would cost $175. Ouch. I wasn't sure I wanted to go the solo route. What other options might exist? Share a booth with other authors? Ask my publisher if they would be sending reps?
As it turned out, my publisher did have a sales rep planning to attend the Indy event. I posed the question, if I were to supply my own books, could I have about two feet at the end of a table to sell my own books? The sales rep was thrilled. She had already read my books and would love to have me. In return, I promised to show up early and lend some muscles to set up and take down her four tables of books and supplies. To stand out from the other vendors, I wore my World War II Army Air Corps captain's uniform. Since one of my novels is a WW II adventure, it's an appropriate attention-getter. (Funny moment, a sixth grader asked, "So, um, did you fight in World War II?" Thanks for adding 40 years to my age, son!)
Selling books this way led to conversations with a variety of interesting parents and their offspring. Many young adults had already read my books and enthusiastically urged their friends to buy them too. I autographed and sold 56 books, and I was even asked to pose with buyers for photos. Now I'm planning to do another guest author appearance at an even bigger conference next month in Cincinnati.
Obviously, I can't guarantee that all authors will sell as many books at such a convention. However, I can say that thousands of parents and youth were strolling the exhibit hall in search of wholesome reading. Even groups I hadn't expected (such as the Indiana Historical Society) were on hand to provide resources for this eager market. If your state has a homeschool association that holds such conventions, you authors owe it to yourselves to check into them.