Last week, I told the story of how The Book 'Em Foundation was conceived and how I established the annual Book 'Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair.
Now that we're in the final weeks for our third event (to be held on
Saturday, February 28, 2015 at Robeson Community College in Lumberton,
North Carolina), I've established a system to make it workable. Because I
don't like last-minute surprises and glitches, I divided the year into
sections in which we focus on a few large components of the event. As we
approach the final weeks, all our planning and work through the year
pays off as things come together.
MARCH THROUGH THE SUMMER
As soon as we've wrapped up the last event, we get started on the next one. I begin by revamping the website, www.bookemnc.org
(before becoming a full-time author, I owned a couple of computer
companies, which has come in handy) and set up the new pages for the
following year's event.
The most important part of the new pages is releasing the Registration
Form, used by authors who wish to sign and sell their books at Book 'Em North Carolina, and who may wish to participate in panel discussions and solo talks.
Although our Registration Form states that the closing date for
registration is September 1 (or until the event is full) we have found
that our last two events were full by late spring. We have a certain
amount of space allocated for the event and because each author receives
at least six feet of space (four feet of table plus two feet on the
side) we easily reach 75+ authors, publishers, literary agents,
Hollywood producers, and rock stars in a short period of time.
Beginning in early summer, we solicit businesses and individuals for
sponsorships. Sponsorships range from $250 to more than $1,000, and we
also accept donations. This money is critical for helping us pay for
advertisements across multiple states and overhead (volunteer t-shirts,
name tags, etc) so that all the money we take in during the event is set
aside for literacy efforts.
We also apply for grant funding. Each year we've received a Kiwanis of
Lumberton grant that pays for dictionaries that are given to children
attending the event, and a Lumberton Area Visitors Bureau grant that
pays for additional advertising.
There are NO paid employees - everyone is a volunteer.
LOGISTICS AND TALKS
In the fall, we begin a series of meetings at Robeson Community College
to discuss how we can improve upon the previous year's event, and we
hammer out logistics.
I begin speaking at a variety of community organizations such as Kiwanis, Rotary Club, and book clubs.
By November, I am hard at work on the Talks Schedule, arranging panel
discussions and solo talks, assigning authors and moderators to each
talk, and lining up the volunteers needed for each Talks Room and The
I also begin reaching out to volunteers and volunteer groups and
keeping a list of who is committed and what they'd like to do at the
I have also entered each title that each author and publisher wishes to
sell at the event into a database and posted it online. This usually
numbers more than 300 titles.
I have created a seating chart and assigned seating for each and every
author, publisher, literary agent, Hollywood producer, and rock star.
That seating chart is placed online at www.bookemnc.org.
By late fall, I have developed the brochures, flyers and posters.
The brochures are distributed through the Lumberton Area Visitors Bureau
to the Welcome Centers along Interstate 95 and to hotels, restaurants
and businesses in the area.
The flyers, including a Talks Schedule, are provided to the City of
Lumberton for distribution in all utility bills in January, as well as
to area businesses and sponsors.
A special flyer is developed for The Children's Corner and will be distributed to school children through Grade 3.
I begin contacting newspapers and magazines and scheduling
advertisements to run in the January or February editions (magazines)
and in Sunday newspapers. I also begin making television and radio
appearances in North and South Carolina, and scheduling more of them to
take place in January and February.
By January 2, we are ready to roll out our promotional campaign. All of
the articles written, interviews provided, and guest blogs begin to
unroll throughout multiple states.
THE FINAL DAYS
In the final days, I am tying everything together: ensuring that all
promotional plans are set to go without a snag, all volunteers know when
they are to arrive and what they're expected to do, all questions have
been formed for the panel discussions, and all logistics are in place.
I create the signs for each author's table so they're easily found, work
with volunteers for signage in and around the event, work with
volunteers on an individual basis to ensure everyone knows their jobs,
and take care of all the last minute preparations.
Next Friday, January 30, I'll begin introducing the volunteers and
volunteer groups who work so tirelessly to ensure that each Book 'Em
North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair goes off smoothly and
without a hitch. I couldn't do this alone!
This blog was written by the founder of Book 'Em North Carolina,
author p.m.terrell. For more information about the event and to download
the brochure, flyers, seating chart, book list, and more, visit www.bookemnc.org.