By Beverly Melasi-Haag
The month of September brings us much joy as we celebrate our third anniversary with our key partner, Books & Books. Many thanks to Elizabeth Solar and her staff for their kind hospitality. We debuted our Authors Showcase Series at Books & Books in Suniland in September of 2018, in a time where we came together as a group to support our authors to present their own platform, share the journey of writing their book, and sell and autograph it – right in the store! We offered our members and guests refreshments and a meaningful evening of fun and fellowship. And cost to the author for all that was $20. Way cool deal!
Then last March, in the blink of an eye, our lives changed forever.
The COVID-19 virus had literally taken the world by storm, and no one could stop it. In just a few weeks people had learned to burrow in their homes with their families to survive, and soon life as we knew it, and quite frankly our way of life, had changed forever and became “the new normal.” As a result, businesses had to succumb to “the new normal” – or die. So they quickly looked into the virtual world to save them. We at SFWA were also impacted when the Pinecrest Library and Books & Books closed their doors. Thus, the SFWA board of directors stepped up to the plate and devised a plan to host our meetings, board meetings, Authors Showcase Series, and member readings, in the virtual world of Zoom.
Suddenly, the $20 we charged our authors went from purchasing refreshments to online support, marketing, and promotional activities. The Authors Showcase Series even took on a new name, The Authors Showcase – a Virtual Experience. Using Zoom, we could now offer our authors a virtual, world-wide platform featured on YouTube, where they could speak about their book, and still sell it through Books & Books. We’d still feature a beautiful author flier in Authors Voice newsletter, promote them on our SFWA Facebook page (and our other social media), and the flier would still eblasted to our members and guests. Believe me, if an author were to do all of that on their own, it would cost them hundreds of dollars.
What Goes on Behind the Scenes
Some may not know what really goes on behind the scenes of putting on a presentation like the Showcase Series, so I asked SFWA member Billy Jones, who spearheaded our new virtual Showcase Series. “To host a virtual showcase requires specific technology skills (the how-to of virtual event hosting meets tech savviness), committed authors (to their works and readers) and an optimistic nature (to see it all through).”
That’s where our production and promotion teams come in. They work tirelessly with our authors to help ensure they have a great YouTube experience. Billy Jones, and board of directors Rocio Vargas, Madeleine Goldman, and Luz Agudelo spend many hours every month working together to bring our members and guests a high-quality experience on YouTube. Through their leadership and guidance, our authors are promoted on several platforms, and made comfortable with the virtual experience and know what to expect.
To learn more about the Showcase author experience, I spoke with our July Showcase author and longtime member, Lori Swick: “Billy gave me his full attention and support. His enthusiastic demeaner, and expertise carried me though the virtual experience.”
How to Get Involved
The SFWA offers our members a virtual opportunity to present their books to the world. If you are interested in participating in our monthly Showcase Series – a Virtual Experience, or in learning more about it, please contact Rocio Vargas, SFWA director of conferences at email@example.com.