Friday morning came bright and early, and the excitement was high after all of that waiting could finally come to an end as we walked down the hallway toward the main event! Before we entered the room we were handed our name tags and our swag bags which contained three books (which were different for everyone) and all sorts of other bookish goodies.
Becca and I (officially dubbed “the Beccas”) found a spot up front and sat with Karen Barnett, Amanda Barrett, and a few other reader friends. We had some lovely conversation over breakfast before the panels started. I was even able to meet the famous Ranger Bear who was travelling with Karen 😉
To start out the morning we heard a bit from Susie Finkbeiner and Chris Jager before the panels got underway.
For the first set of panels the authors were split into two groups where the goal was for them to turn things around and ask us, the readers questions. They first started out by having to share with us something that most people don’t know about them. I wish I’d taken notes because I don’t remember them all but several of them were quite funny! Even though I’m sure the panel was more to help the authors out, I also found the panel to be valuable because we were able to discover what the authors needed from us and how we could be an encouragement to them. It was also interesting to see that even within a room of less than 100 people, not everyone had the same preferences. It gave me an even greater respect for all of the hard work that the authors put into their creations. They have no easy task developing the perfect stories that everyone will know and love!
After the panel we broke up for lunch before starting in on the second round of panels. Once again the authors were split up into two groups with the first group talking about characters and the second discussing setting, but there was also the option to attend a discussion on leveraging our reader influence which was lead by Alexis De Weese that was offered during both times. Wishing we could attend all of them but knowing we couldn’t, the other Becca and I split up so that we could each attend one of the author panels and be a part of the influencing discussion. Becca attended the characters panel and I attended the one for setting.
I learned a lot from the panel. Several of the authors stated that the setting was considered another character for them. They talked about the importance of having a setting that is strong enough that you couldn’t just lift the characters out and place them anywhere else. The characters need to be strongly rooted in and connected to their setting. They also talked about the importance of research when developing the setting to make sure that they are respective of the area (and time) they are placing their characters in (especially if they are real places).
The other Becca went to the panel on Character creation. She shared with me that the authors said that they create their characters through people watching–both those they know, and those they don’t know. They also said that the characters often surprise them by taking over the story. (If anyone tries to tell you characters aren’t real? Walk away… because you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life 😂). It seems like it was a really interesting panel. I wish I could have heard it for myself!
I also learned a heap at the influencer discussion. Alexis talked about the three “R’s” of influence: Read, Review, and Recommend. We started out with more of the basics, but we also got into some more complex discussion particularly when it comes to reviews. Many of you have probably either heard of and/or been affected by the Amazon review fiasco that’s had people in an uproar. I was personally one of the unluckies who had my rights to review removed but after appealing twice was able to get them reinstated. I know that there are some who are still unable to get this changed. While I can understand the initial reasons for Amazon sending out their “bots” to flag reviews, it’s still a sticky situation to deal with the site especially when you review books that you’ve received for free on a regular basis.
We also talked about influencer and street teams, and the value and importance of pre-ordering books. There is plenty more that we can do for the authors other than the three “R’s” and we talked about many of those options as well. While it’s wonderful to often receive free books, I also want to make sure that I’m doing all that I can to encourage and promote the authors that I’ve read. (If you saw the full stack I came home from the event with you’ll know that I buy plenty of them as well). I found the whole discussion very helpful and I’m grateful for all of the advice I received for the future that I can put to use.
At the closing of events at the Double Tree, it was announced that we could snag a book from each of the two tables of books they had there. Some people left immediately after while others stuck around for a bit. I ended up with a few extra books because the gentleman that was there from one of the publishers had some more in boxes that were under the table and handed them out to us before we left 🙂
After the event came to a close we had some free time before the Selfies and Signings event that was held at Baker Book House. Becca and I went out to dinner with a new friend Necee who traveled all the way from Alaska! We forgot to take a picture at dinner but we took one later at Baker Book House 🙂
I can’t even tell you how excited we all were to show up at Baker Books! Plenty of photos were taken before we even entered the building 🙂
Walking inside Baker Book House for the first time? Let me tell you! That place is DANGEROUS without supervision! 😂😂 They released a whole herd of book nerds into a fully stocked bookstore WITH CARTS! Can you imagine the craziness?! Plus, with our 30% off everything due to being there for FRS, it was like a Black Friday spree only we were friendly and helped fill each other’s carts instead of fighting to grab our own must-haves… and no one was tackled (at least I don’t think 😂).
I waited for a bit to head over to the selfies and signings until
after I’d finished my shopping I did my first round of shopping. I came with a few books from home for signing but I purchased many others while I was there.
That night I took pictures of my “haul” so far. The left is my shopping fun (along with a tote not pictured), and the right is my swag bag with extras.