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The Beyond gang head for Word on the Street Sunday

Dana Bowman PI from Beyond Faith and Beyond Blood

Dana Bowman PI from Beyond Faith and Beyond Blood

It’s official – Sharon A. Crawford and Dana Bowman will be at Word on the Street – the big annual book an magazine at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre. Still up in the air is if Dana will be kept inside the covers of Beyond Blood or if Sharon will let her out. Sharon is set to appear at the Crime Writers of Canada booth from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. in the company of four other crime authors. All will have copies of their books to sell, but also to talk about Crime Writers of Canada.

Dana will need a briefing if she is to do some of this. And Dana likes to follow her own ideas. She is a private investigator after all. But Sharon is a former journalist and she also like to stick her nose into things.

The other appearance is one author and one other volunteer for Sisters in Crime Toronto’s booth from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. – perhaps more to Dana’s liking to appear here.

That will have to be sorted out on Sunday. For now, let’s talk a bit about Word on the Street, CWC and SinC Toronto.

Sharon here….

I’ve been going to Word on the Street almost since it started in 1990. The first few years the location was Queen Street West from Spadina to Bathurst St. – not a particularly long stretch. But it sure seemed like it if you wanted to go to a specific booth at one end and another one at the other end, particularly if you were on a time-line to get to a workshop or reading or signing in a particular tent. The booths lined up in the street on both sides, plus the crowds moving through, made it difficult. And the availability of washrooms was limited to coffee shops and restaurants with long lineups – unless you wanted to use the portable toilets.

Fast forward to September 2007 and WOTS was now being held at Queens Park – no not in the legislature building or other Ontario Government buildings, but in an actual park, a circular park with booths positioned all along the east and west walkways and at the front and bottom. You could cut across the park to get to bootha on the other side – or walk along the circular walkway. Some tents were in the actual park. The setting was very relaxed and yes, there were portable toilets but also washrooms in nearby Victoria College on the University of Toronto campus. The college also held their annual book sale the same day, so it was a big day for books – the print kind.

At the 2007 WOTS I did my first appearance in a tent talking about freelance writing – interviewing techniques and the like. I was also running a course (in my house no less) a couple of weeks after and this WOTS talk was a great opportunity to get participants for that. It was also a lot of fun as I called people up from the audience to be the interviewee while I played interviewer for role playing. And my son and his then girlfriend, dropped in to watch the proceedings.

In future WOTS at Queens Park, I appeared at the Crime Writers Canada booths to promote and sell the Beyond books. One year the CWC booth was facing the sidewalk instead of the street, so it attracted less people. The location had some personal history with me. The CWC booth faced the Ontario government building where i had my first job at age 18 and 19 when I was a secretary (in another life, of course).

This Sunday, September 24, WOTS is in its third year in its third location- Harboufront Centre on Queens Quay West on Toronto’s waterfront. I have mixed feelings about it. On the plus side you are on the waterfront and the events are outside and some indoors. Some areas seem a bit crowded and the first year I was there, the SinC booth was at the end side of a long group of tables of various organizations. To get to the SinC spot you had to go in at the other end. At that end one of the poetry societies held were readings. The poet stood on the table and performed his or her poetry.

We’ll see how it goes this year and what Dana does and says if she doesn’t stay between the book covers.

Beyond Faith won’t be there – it’s still at the printers. But the flyers for the book launch will be and so will copies of Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point.

Maybe I’ll see you there. Look for one or both of us – Dana’s photo is at the top and mine is below here.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

and

Dana Bowman

 

Sharon A. Crawford author of the Beyond books

 

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Word on the Street for Writers and Readers

The latest Beyond book in the series

The latest Beyond book in the series

The annual Word on the Street (WOTS) Festival is coming up this Sunday, September 25 in Toronto. WOTS has been running since 1990  when it first began on Queen St. West in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Since then it has added locations such as Vancouver, British Columbia, Kitchener, Ontario, and Halifax, Nova Scotia. This year the date for all locations is no longer the same date, so Halifax and Saskatoon were last weekend, but Lethbridge, Alberta is this Saturday, September 24 and Toronto is this Sunday, September 25. WOTS has also changed the Toronto festival location twice – first to Queens Park by the Ontario Parliament buildings in downtown Toronto and then last year to the newly upgraded. renovated Toronto Harbourfront Centre in downtown Toronto and on Lake Ontario.

Although the original location reflects the festival title, I found it difficult to get around here. Yes, part of Queen St. was closed to traffic, with booths in the middle of the street, but you had to plan your stops ahead of time. Otherwise you could be near one end of the street and want to get to a booth or booths at the other ends.

With the Queens Park location, booths were set up in the circled walkway in the park so you could either follow along that or cut across the grass in between. You also had the green park atmosphere, better than a busy street. I liked this location and it was at this location I did a talk in one of the guest writer, writing information, publishing,  and the like tents. I believe the talk was about Interviewing techniques for journalists – I was still working as a freelance journalist then.

The Toronto Harbourfront Centre has been received with mixed reaction. I personally like it – there is the on-the-waterfront location which can be calming and most of the booths are in the same area, so easy enough to get to beyond the usual finding the booth itself by the number – something that was normal with any of the locations.

For the latter two locations, I have been able to sell copies of my Beyond books at the Crime Writers of Canada booth or in the case of Beyond the Tripping Point the year it was coming out – let potential readers know – it was pre-book launch and I didn’t have book copies so had flyers for the book launch. One of them I fashioned with two holes at the top with a string in between. I wore it so after my one hour at the CWB booth was finished, I walked around wearing the flyer.

When Beyond Blood came out in fall 2014, again WOTS was before the book launch, but I had a few pre-launch copies from my publisher (Blue Denim Press) with the instructions to sell to anyone not going to the book launch.

Which I did.

Last year I added an hour with my books at the Toronto Sisters in Crime booth and sold copies of both books. I had a sale price for purchase of both books together and plan to do something like that again this year and perhaps something extra. Not telling. You will have to come out to WOTS in Toronto to see what. But also to meet and talk to  well-known authors and hear them reading, information for writers to get published – often with panel discussions, books for sale, many smaller publishers, writing and editing organizations, plus public libraries, ESL, magazines – small and more wide-spread, book publishers, and of course, food.

For more information on WOTS see here and for the Toronto WOTS go here.

And to see where I’ll be when (at least at the booths), go to my Gigs and Blogs page.

Hope to see you there – well some of you.

As usual the Beyond Blood book icon at the top links to info about my books and my author profile.

Cheers.

Sharon

 

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Book Promo trick learned at festival and library

Sharon A. Crawford's latest in the Beyond series

Sharon A. Crawford’s latest in the Beyond series

It has been a hectic few days with my Beyond Books at two booths (not during the same hour) at Word on the Street last Sunday and Tuesday evening at the Runnymede Toronto Public Library Branch.

Very interesting – great to meet readers and other writers and chat. And I also learned and applied a new sales technique (new to me) that worked, so much so that I have to order more copies of my first published Beyond book – Beyond the Tripping Point from my publisher and he in turn has to order more from the distributor. This book was published three years ago. And we’re talking print copies, not e-copies. So there is still steam in the “old” book and the “old” book copy option.

So what happened?

I’ve been attending the Word on the Street Festival, Toronto version almost every year since it began, often selling books or passing out info about writers’ organizations or both. This year it changed venue for the third time.This year it was at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre beside Lake Ontario. It was a hot summer day (yes, I know it is fall), sunny and very pleasant. So were most of the people there and the venue setup – closer together and also specific areas to sit and rest your feet and your a.. well you know what.

At WOTS I had an hour each at two booths selling Beyond Blood and Beyond the Tripping Point as well as handing out business cards and flyers for two more of the venues I would be at this fall, and chatting about my books with people who pass by. Very important. You don’t just sit there and smile because not everyone is going to stop unless you approach them. “Do you read mystery novels?” became my ice-breaker and if the answer was “yes” (about two-thirds to three-quarters of the time), I was off talking about my Beyond books and holding up copies as I talked. I was at the Crime Writers of Canada booth first and then Toronto Sisters in Crime. Despite the crowded quarters of the latter (in a booth at extended tables with other writing organizations). Space was so limited the poets reading had to stand on a table at their end. That was also where anyone going to sit behind any of the tables had to enter the area. Sisters in Crime had their booth at the other end. So if I didn’t want to hop the table to get out and chat, I had to maneuver over to the other end, avoid the poet on the table, slither out and walk to the end where I stood and chatted.

I was selling both books as two for one price (and made sure I had the individual prices listed on my price sheet to show the difference). That worked for sales, including to a lady who said she had to run into the building behind to the ATM and would I be there? Of course, I would.

During all this I was trying to find and keep track of two old friends (who didn’t know each other at that point). One found me over at the Crime Writers booth but the other didn’t find me until the end of my stint at Sisters in Crime. But both kept busy going to booths, chatting and collecting info. The latter friend got steered to me by another mystery writer the friend had seen and heard at a previous Crime Writers of Canada library reading.

Which brings me to Runnymede library branch and Tuesday night. Despite rain, we got a good number of readers who filled the library program room. And it was one of the better author presentations by some of us from Crime Writers of Canada – Rob Brunet, Karen Blake-Hall, Madeleine Harris Callway and me. We talked about our books, often putting in humour, telling stories of how we got our stories settings, how we got our stories, did a little reading from our books and then opened it to questions.

It was really like chatting with old and new friends.

And yes, I sold more books – the package deal again and was really rewarded more by one author purchasing when she said “I really like your writing.” Mind you she has attended some of my writing workshops at library branches and I probably read something I had written there.

So, what’s the morale here to promote books? Get involved with your audience, entertain, and offer good deals with your books.

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Cover of Sharon A. Crawford's mystery short story collection. Click on it for publisher's website

 

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