Warped Tour 2016
I've been thinking about this journey I decided to take this year and I'm very much an internal person. I need to really process everything before I put my opinions or feelings out there. I know a lot of people have been excited to hear how my experience went since it was something so new and out of the box. Risks can come with huge rewards or downfalls. I want to preface this by saying I don't regret my decision to become a sponsor for Vans Warped Tour this summer but I didn't get everything out of it that I would have liked. And I'll tell you why.
I paid the marketing company that organizes Warped Tour for the following: (1) Instagram post, (1) Facebook post, (1) Twitter post, and a tent spot at the tour stop of my choice. I chose Portland because it was the closest location to me, but after the normal 5 hour drive ended up turning into 8 as a result of an accident and traffic, San Francisco would have been closer, but that's besides the point.
The social media posts were as to be expected but I was severely let down. I'm not sure why I figured that having 1 million+ followers would equal to better exposure and the posts actually getting seen. Sure it was definitely more exposure than I could have gotten on my own but I didn't noticed any of that correlate to sales and keep in mind that I have the first book in my series currently free, the free downloads didn't come through either.
After the lackluster sales I got really down on myself but tried to force myself out of the funk. I still had the show in Portland. Face to face with actual people has to be way better exposure than a random name on a blog post. There was definitely ups and downs during the entire experience.
As a whole romance authors have come a long way but sadly I fear we still have a ways to go. It doesn't matter that we're a part of a billion dollar industry or that there are authors sitting pretty on an income most "normal" jobs would never pay, there is still a stigma. It's hard enough putting yourself out there in a situation that's outside the norm but it's even harder sitting there as people, mostly men, walk by and say things like, "What the fuck is a romance author doing here?" or "Are you fucking kidding me?" all while pointing and laughing at both me and my banner.
I'll tell you I wanted to get up and leave within 30 minutes of the gates opening because of the ridicule. But I stuck it out. Because I didn't pay to sit in that spot just to quit from some asshole naysayers. Where would any of us be if we quit every time we got a bad review or someone made fun of the books we write? We wouldn't be anywhere.
As I continued sitting out in the scorching heat I held onto my hope. Hope that I would meet a fellow book lover like me, I met several. Hope that I would get at least one sale, and I did. Hope that there weren't all assholes out there like the ones I experienced, and there weren't.
I'm not going to be an overnight success, no one really is, and my sales haven't suddenly skyrocketed like I naively and optimistically thought they would. But I put myself out there and I wouldn't call it a complete failure. It was a learning experience. I've got a whole list of new newsletter subscribers, I gave away a ton of free download cards for the first book in my series, and I put my name and face in front of people.
Success comes from a lot of hard work and just trying. Which is exactly what I did. I tried something new. I'm not ruling out future marketing opportunities with Warped Tour but I am ruling out repeating what I did this year. What's the fun of risking all day in the heat and not being able to see a single band perform?
I will say it was pretty neat getting to park where the tour buses park. So in my heat induced stupor, walking back to the car, I passed by a lot of band members but don't ask me who because I'm not sure I even knew at the time. I was beyond the point of caring and almost passed out when we finally reached the car. Heat and I just don't get along. But if there's ever an indoor music event that I could get in on, I might be more willing to go that route.
Those are my ramblings and feedback from my Warped Tour experience...hopefully some of it made sense and I'm not still heat drunk ;) And I want to add that none of my bad experience had anything to do with any of the organizers. They were all great people to work with but this just might not have been the right opportunity for me. If they ever have plans to expand into the book world, I would work with them in heart beat!