March 19, 2015
It is now mid-March or just about 7 months before the 2015 Black Authors & Readers Rock Weekend (BA&RR) and I have decided to share those last seven months of planning with you. First, however, I must bring you up-to-date on what has transpired since the last event in October 2014.
Each year when the Weekend ends – I immediately begin planning for next year’s event. Within the first two weeks, if I plan to use the same venue, I confirm dates and sign the contract for next year (this allows me to get this year’s rates – which may not be offered by all venues). If a change in venue is needed, I begin to make calls and visit venues. This must be done quickly because until I’m able to lock down a venue and a date, I can’t begin publicizing the event nor can I approach authors about participating!
Last year, I put the cart before the horse! While attending an event in August 2014, I spoke with an author who agreed to be the 2015 keynote speaker. As soon as I returned home, I confirmed the 2015 date with the venue, sent a contract to the author, and for the first time – I announced this person’s name during the 2014 event (to build anticipation and an audience for 2015).
Meanwhile, I updated my website and Facebook pages and set up the event on Eventbrite to allow exhibitors to register and attendees to purchase tickets. Because this is my eighth year planning this event, I was confident that I didn’t have to do much more than answer questions and keep everything updated until March, when Early Bird Registration would end. At that time, I would take a look at the number of authors who had registered and ramp up publicity if necessary.
In the meantime – I co-founded a new book club, agreed to be the point person for a first year countywide book festival, concluded negotiations with speakers for a women’s retreat, and began working on plans for my family reunion and a community reunion in my hometown (I don’t want you to think I was just twiddling my thumbs!).
Suddenly, it was March 1 and time for me to sit down to review how things stood for October. It looked pretty good! I had successfully entered into agreements with several featured authors and of the 16 spots available for Exhibiting Authors, nine were filled. BUT to my chagrin, it hit me that the keynote speaker had not signed and returned the contract I had sent in September - though we had spoken on several occasions and promises had been made – I had no signed contract.
OMG – what a mess! What it he didn’t ever sign or was a no-show? Would I have trouble finding a replacement? Anger set in! First I was angry because I hadn’t “handled” this earlier and then I was angry because I felt I had been strung along – for what reason I didn’t know. Next I sent an email and certified letter rescinding the contract. Then I reached out to another author, we came to a meeting of the minds and to seal the deal, I sent a contract that included a date by which it had to be signed and therefore ratified by both parties!
Look for the next installment – soon!