Stella Price - Authors After Dark Organizer - Behind the Scenes
Can you tell us how Authors After Dark came into being, and how it became such a large Reader Conferences?
Well, a couple of years ago I got fed up with RT. I got fed up with the price I was paying for pretty much nothing, and I got fed up with the fact that it was a shot in the dark if I was going to get to sign at the event. I knew there had to be a better, cheaper way to do it, that readers would be comfortable with that could rival RT. AAD came into being I knew we could make it fair and not about money, but about books and readers.
How far in advance do you start planning for upcoming years?
Usually 14-16 months early. That’s when I start compiling the author lists, find the MoC and figure out what the parties are going to be. Technically I’m perpetually planning AAD.
Do think holding the reader’s conference in different cities each year is a plus or a minus?
Well it gives us other places to be, and other places to see. We have a large contingent of readers from the UK and Brazil that come each year, and they LOVE that it’s in different places each year and that they can see the city much cheaper than if they went on vacation there.
How did you determine the cutoff numbers on featured authors?
I never wanted it to be like RT, where there’s majority of authors attending. Smaller numbers means more of a return with the readers. At AAD Reader outnumber authors 4:1. No other CON can say that.
What criteria are used to select the authors?
For AAD, I’m strict. Authors need to have professionally edited books with professional looking covers. I also check out who they are online, see how they treat other authors and how they treat readers. If you’re a jerk, or a drama hound, you have no place at AAD because AAD is not about the author, it’s about the reader. If you’re not accessible, if you hang with a select few at cons... I don’t care how popular your work is, I’m doing the author a favor by not accepting them. In the past we have had authors that were self-important and or rude to readers... and they don’t attend anymore.
I noticed the Charlotte 2014 conference is capped around 525. Is that total attendance or reader attendance? Do you put a cap on the numbers attending based on the hotel space?
Well there are 125 authors this year, so there would be 400 readers. We did 125 because we are doing crossover authors this year in a new segment.
How do you determine the pricing for the conference?
AAD offers more meals that are included in the registration. How do they accomplish that? The honest answer is that I don’t get paid for this event. Every penny that is paid into registration goes into meals. I also negotiate for previous year pricing, which helps. If you’re not taking a cut of the registration, it’s EASY to do meals for the event.
Each AAD conference includes a book signing open to the public. There is a lot of online promotion, but is the event promoted by AAD in the area it takes place? Does AAD reach out to radio and television stations in the area? How about bookstores and libraries?
We do a lot of area promo, and I’ll be honest TV and Radio doesn’t care 99% of the time. We put up posters, rack cards, postcards; we are listed on the area websites too.
What are the future plans for Authors After Dark? Do you plan to grow the attendance or keep that in the 500 range?
500-525 is my limit. At this size it works well and 97% of the signing authors sell out each year so… I don’t wanna mess with a good thing.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about Authors After Dark? Or maybe a little about the Novel Experience that is held prior to AAD?
The Novel Experience is my new event, this year in March in Atlanta. It’s a mass signing and a ton of parties at night. Think the BEST parts of RT (the signing and the parties) without the price. You can check out the info at http://thenovelexperienceevent.blogspot.com
Thank you, Stella, for taking time to answer our questions. Looking forward to seeing you in August in Charlotte, NC.
If you’re interested in attending Authors After Dark taking place in August, check out their website for details. http://www.authorsafterdark.org
Columnist Lizzie T. Leaf: Award winning author, Lizzie T. Leaf enjoys writing Paranormal/Fantasy with a twist of humor and heat. Her Magical Love series is available in print and eBook at Passion in Print and other sellers. Beyond Magic, the first book in the series won the 2012 AOE Best Paranormal/Fantasy/Sci-Fi. The DEAD series is available through Musa Publishing where she also has two Christmas novellas, the Contemporary Fantasy, Forget the Mistletoe and Making Christmas, the LRC Best Historical winner and the 2012 Aspen Gold Best Novella winner. Re-releasing June 2013, two expanded Erotic Contemporaries, Barely Legal and Educating Amber.