Welcome Kris Tualla, creator of
Arizona Dreamin’ 2011 - A Romance Reader Event
Amber: All authors want to connect with readers and potential readers. Many conferences and events are directed at writers or those who want to write. Not that writers don’t buy a lot of books (and those that don’t definitely should) but readers who gobble books for the sheer joy are like triple chocolate cake every night. Kris Tualla’s vision created Arizona Dreamin’ - Arizona's first Romance Reader event!
Amber: So Kris, how did you become the Arizona Dreamin’ Queen?
Kris: I attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention and heard about reader-focused events in other parts of the country. I thought - why not in Phoenix? A city this size can certainly support such an endeavor!
Amber: How did you advertise to attract readers?
Kris: The vision was to bring my fans and introduce them to your books, and vice versa. So I asked each of the 24 authors to get 4 of their own fans to come. If they did, we would be full.
Amber: Did you break even the first year?
Kris: Not even close, sad to say. Half of the authors didn't generate any ticket sales at all! I learned that new authors are hungry and understand that they need to promote. Authors published four or five years ago (or more) have no clue.
Even so, those readers who did attend had a blast! I have never seen so many consistent smiles in a very long time. Everyone was talking about who they would bring with them "next year"! Not only that, but they bought $1800 worth of books and raised $315 for charity!
Amber: Anything authors who want to attend and be part of AD2012 needed to know?
Kris: Yes. First, we are expecting double the attendees. Part of that will be generated by a special incentive offered to the 2011 attendees. Another part will be generated by the authors themselves who will each purchase 4 tickets to resell at a discount, or use in raffles and contest prizes as a thank-you to their fans.
Second, I am committed to keeping the event small and intimate. We plan to cap the authors at 24, and keep the "Book Clubs" - the meetings of authors and readers - at 10 per club.
Amber: I saw some pretty yummy photos with a cover model (definitely not female). How did you arrange that and did it help the publicity?
Kris: Ah, yes. Jimmy Thomas is definitely a thing of beauty - and currently on more than 1400 book covers. He's sweet as can be and was a doll to come, plus he added a very special touch to the event! He's also a smart businessman; he stages, photographs and sells images designed for every genre of romance novel (http://www.romancenovelcovers.com/ ). I had him on my blog last year as an example of businesses that will rise up in support of independently publishing authors.
When I asked him to come to Arizona Dreamin' he agreed. While he was here he worked, shooting covers with two different models in two separate sessions. The fun part for us is that he allowed us to watch! Then he posed with readers in exchange for a donation to our charity. Next year we'll have a special backdrop that looks like a book cover for those photos!
Amber: What about the details for Arizona Dreamin' 2012?
Kris: Saturday, June 2, 2012, Noon - 10:00pm. Tickets (probably around $30) include a delicious and bountiful buffet dinner with the authors.
Location - those who want to make it a girl's overnight or weekend (it's next to the Chandler Mall)!
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Amber: What is the one (scratch that)… What are the 5 most important things an individual or group would need to pull this off?
Passionate belief in the concept. I took the financial hit in 2011 because I know this event will grow!
People working with me who have a passionate belief in the concept. My committee was small but comprised of some truly amazing authors, including Deena Remiel and Tami VanGurp.
Energy - which plays out in commitment and follow-through. This isn't a path for the faint of heart!
The understanding that no author is an island. I help you and you help me; we are stronger together.
Make certain that the things which are in my control are efficient and planned to the last detail. That way when things that are out of my control go awry (and they will) we are still successful!