So, Indie BookFest 2016 happened last weekend. It was kind of like How the Grinch Stole Christmas: it came without airplanes flying past 5 PM Thursday, it came without some authors who had planned to be there, it came while the Weather Channel predicted the worst storm in the history of all weather (paraphrasing from Cristin Harber!). It happened in spite of the people who kept telling us to cancel. It happened because we had over sixty awesome authors who braved all the dire warnings and the readers who battled the elements and traffic to get there.
So let’s start at the beginning.
On Thursday, I made my first airport run of the day to pick up Gail Priest, both an author and a dear friend (and the person who gave us Annie Crow Knoll–go get those books!). After that, we made a few trips to the hotel with boxes and bags and swag and books . . . and I did a quick interview with AP reporter/romance author/IBF author Tamara Lush as I sucked down a bowl of soup.
Second airport run was to retrieve both Cristin Harber, our amazing keynote speaker, and Dan Wood of Draft2Digital. They cracked me up. Cristin had been spooked by a very pessimistic flight attendant who warned her not to make the trip . . . and Dan had provided the peer pressure that convinced Cristin to stay on the plane. It made for a hilarious story and keynote intro, though!
We stuffed swag bags Thursday late afternoon as the weather predictions continued to grow more serious. On a happier note, the story filed by Tamara Lush hit the Washington Post, ABC News and The Orlando Sentinel! Wow, talk about making lemonade out lemons . . .
Our welcome dinner Thursday night was packed and delicious. Afterward, we retired to the 7th floor concierge lounge to enjoy beer, gummy rummies and hanging out time while the Weather Channel played in the background.
Friday morning was the kick-off of IBF16. We had a busy run on the registration desk, and our panels and workshops were terrific, even if we were down a few panelists. Out of over 20 panels/workshops, we only had to cancel two. I call that a win.
By mid-afternoon, it was clear that Matthew was more hurrican’t that hurrican. While there was some damage, we were all relieved that the storm wasn’t even half as bad as predicted. As the curfews were lifted, more authors and readers arrived! We also enjoyed our inspirational Skype session with Jasinda and Jack Wilder. They were so gracious and so open . . . and so generous–wow! Holy giveaways, Batman!
FanFare that night was a fabulous time. Over 45 books were given away to readers, and there was also dancing, food and fun!
On Saturday, our keynote speaker kicked off the day. Cristin was perfect mix of humor, inspiration and encouragement, encapsulating our theme of Unity in Community. Our panels were able to proceed as planned, and every single one was well-attended and successful. YAY!
All day on Saturday, too, Duncurra Publishing and SE Smith sponsored rooms where they offered crafts and marketing insight. These were terrific resources for everyone.
The signing was the icing on the cake. For three solid hours, readers thronged the signing floor, visiting all the authors. It was amazing.
And then that night . . .ZOMBIE party! HD Smith, Violet Howe, SE Smith and Ceci Giltenan planned and executed a wonderful evening. So much fun and so much creativity!
HUGE thanks to: my wonderful business partner, BFF, soul sister and other half of my brain, Mandie Stevens. I wouldn’t do this with anyone else. To our volunteers, Maria Clark and Tammy Richardson, and ALL our kids (Haley, Cate, David, Alexis, Annah, Colleen and Jack), and to Melanie Marsh and Stacey Blake for their invaluable help, too. To Heather Smith and Leslie Howe, who have fabulous ideas and helping hands, and to Rene Folsom who pitches in and also listens to me rant and rave! To Christine Gomez who brings me wine and rummy gummies and hugs me when I’m about to lose it. To all the authors who rolled with it, who said–YES, let’s do this! To the readers who loved on all of us . . . and to the hotel staff at the Hilton who were endlessly patient and kind.
We’re already looking ahead to 2017, which will be the 5th year of IBF. We have some new ideas and more ways to involve our readers. Stay tuned . . .
I had a blast, Tawdra! You and Mandie were such amazing hosts! I can’t wait till next year!
Indie BookFest was great. I’m so glad we didn’t listen to everyone that was telling us we were idiots to drive towards the hurricane. I learned a lot, meet a bunch of new authors, bloggers, readers, and book-tubers. And best of all I had a blast doing it. I look forward to attending next year.
Thanks to you, Tawdra and Mandie Stevens for all you hard work. You did a fantastic job. Also thanks to all your helpers, they were awesome.