Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The NICHE Experiment

I’m back from Iowa and the homeschool conference there, my last one of the season.

As always, such a conference is a learning experience for me. I do not consider myself a people-person—the noise of crowds and interactions with strangers tend to exhaust me, even if I enjoy it at times. So actively trying to sell books at a conference the size of NICHE (over 2000 last year) stretches me. But watching people react to my table has taught me much over the last two years, and my appreciation for a publisher’s marketing team has risen greatly. Why certain decisions are made, while I may not still like them, are much more understandable to me now.

But despite stretches and discouragement at times, NICHE was an enjoyable experience overall. Consistent foot traffic passed my table, more freebies were taken than ever before, and I had some great one-on-one conversations. Sales weren’t as high as I longed for them to be, but as I have found time and again, my primary work at these conferences is education, education, education. So it’s probably a good thing I spent the extra money for the vendor’s workshop—it gave me the chance to educate a larger group.

The workshop was my newest experiment. I’ve not done one at a conference before (although I did the four-hour class at a Salt Lake City church this spring), and I wasn’t sure how it would go over, especially since public speaking doesn’t rank in my top ten favorite activities. In fact, I hated it in school. I can’t count the number of times I begged my parents to not make me do it: “I’m going to be a writer. What do I need to learn public speaking for?” It turns out to be a good thing they forced me. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

Anyway, I presented a workshop on the power of story and the benefits of fiction at NICHE. It seemed to go over quite well based on reactions. I’ve not had the courage to listen to the recording yet. I do know it brought several people by my table later. But perhaps even more, this workshop emphasized to me that I really do enjoy talking about fiction and discernment in media, probably because of my passion for the topic. (Hint, hint: If anyone is interested in having me speak on this topic, I’m available! Send me an email and we’ll chat.)

So while NICHE may not have met every expectation, it was a good way to close out the season. Will I be back next year? I can’t say yet, as the results will probably need some more analysis before I make a final judgment. The odds are currently looking favorable, though, and I’m already brainstorming some new ideas for next year. We’ll just have to see where God leads next in this grand experiment.

1 comment:

Brandon said...

Public Speaking was my phobia in high school...and it still lingers to this day :)