6 Things I Learned at the New Life Expo

San Francisco hosted the 2011 New Life Expo—current name of the Whole Life Expo popularized in the 1970s. Its function is to bring together like-minded people fascinated with the metaphysical world. Venders displayed health products while authors sold books. Long tables arranged in a horseshoe acted as the bookstore. I took this pattern to be a lucky sign—books were still cherished. Consuming literature at lunchtime in the organic food court was a favorite pastime for attendees.

Participating as a guest speaker taught me six important lessons as an author.

Guest column by Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos,
who has penned SURVIVING CANCERLAND (awaiting
publication). She is repped by agent Jack Scovil. She
is currently working on her second book, SURVIVING
RECURRENCE. You can follower her website,
on Twitter
and on Facebook.


1. Speakers sell books. Gone are the days when solitary authors wrote while publishing houses marketed. Conventionally and self-published authors who were speakers sold more books than nonparticipating authors who only submitted books to the bookstore.

2. Bring your own equipment—come prepared—be organized, and flexible. Murphy’s Law always looks for opportunities to manifest. Even if the information sent by coordinators promises to “provide everything,” come prepared to have nothing. Many speakers found that they had no audio or visual equipment, including extension cords. Fortunately, we brought back-up equipment. An exasperated keynote speaker turned to Peter and begged, “What would it take to borrow your equipment?” Conventions are fast-paced. Speakers had 15 minutes to set up equipment and 45 minutes to present materials. Problem solving cut into presentation time. Plan for the worst, hope for the best, and you will be ready for Murphy’s Law.

3. Many keynote speakers were not paid. Some received compensation for their travel and hotel expenses. Top-Draw speakers, such as Greg Braden, author of Fractal Time, were hired. However, there are three important goals for all speakers:

  • Develop name recognition in a celebrity driven arena. Speakers who had recognition commanded fees.
  • Collect e-mail and contact information from your audience. Before beginning your presentation, start a clipboard for names and emails. Write PLEASE PRINT AND PASS ON and let the audience did the work.
  • Tape your presentation with a live audience in a professional setting. Post it on your website for purchase. A video can be more cost effective to followers than a ticket, hotel and travel expenses. It can offset your costs, provide subject credibility, and advertise you as a keynote speaker at a National Convention.

4. Readers cherish autographed books and stand in lines to get one. Although e-reader have advantages, one disadvantage was clear. E-readers do not contain personally autographed books. Authors who held book signings sold more copies. People still like to see and handle books, even if they choose to order them later as e-books. My husband spoke on Quantum Spirituality and sold all of his copies of POPE ANALISA ten minutes after his presentation—which brings me to the next lesson.

5. Don’t bring more books than you plan to sell. They are costly to transport. Checking books as airline baggage is cheaper than paying shipping fees. Your book  carried under your arm is a conversation piece and a great way to network.

6. Network at every opportunity and always carry business cards.
Power-Breakfasts are networking opportunities. After my breakfast was interrupted by a fire drill, I was invited to guest speak on dreams with another keynote speaker. While standing in the parking lot, I exchanged contact information with Expo coordinators. Once back in the building, we found more common ground—a cup of coffee.

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