Review of Africa Writes 2016

Review of Africa Writes 2016

About Africa Writes

Africa Writes is the Royal African Society’s annual literature festival. Every year they showcase established and emerging talent from the African continent and its diaspora in what is now the UK’s biggest celebration of contemporary African writing taking place over an exciting summer weekend. The festival features book launches, readings, author appearances, panel discussions, youth and children’s workshops, and other activities.

Segilola Salami’s Review of Africa Writes 2016

I am not sure if I should be ashamed I hadn’t heard of the event prior to this year or if the event needs to do better with it’s marketing efforts. Irrespective, I only found out about it a few weeks prior to the event per chance via twitter.

As an author of bilingual Yoruba English books, I was super excited at the opportunity to showcase my work.

Due to the late timing of my enquiry, I was only able to secure one two hour slot to display my books.

I planned to make the absolute best of it but as with all things in life, there were a series of unfortunate events that occurred a few days prior to the event.

When you listen, I think you may be able to tell from my voice I was super exhausted.

If you’re in a hurry, here’s the two step strategy I employed to get the best out of being at the event

1) Offer an incentive

Everyone at Africa Writes 2016 was interested in books about Africa or by African authors in one way or the other. So they were my target audience. However, there were other book sellers there too.

As a first time author at the event and one who hadn’t actively marketed her books to the African community prior to the event, I needed a way to get the guests to give my stand more than a casual glance.

So what did I do?

I brought with me a freshly baked cake and offered it with a big smile to people as they passed by. It worked with most people. Even the very few people who declined having a slice unconsciously found themselves casting their eyes over my books.

My little human is my secret weapon. Most people like children and she was also a great conversation starter

2) Connect

It is one thing to get people to my stand but I needed them to carry out an action. For me, that was to buy my books. How did I achieve this? By connecting and engaging with them.

Simply offering them cake and saying “OK now you have to buy my books wasn’t going to cut it”

Plus I read (or heard) somewhere that people may not remember what you say to them, but they’ll remember how you made them feel.

It was important that I connected with them on a personal level.

During my two hour slot, I was the only author displaying books and that worked to my advantage. I was able to autograph copies for those who made purchases.

Being an author exhibitor (as opposed to a book retailer exhibitor), I was able to answer questions from visitors re my motivation for writing amongst other things.

I also had a number of business cards printed that I made available to business connections made eg photographers, journalists etc to connect with me after the event

What would I do differently for Africa Writes 2017?
  • I’ll book my stand well in advance for every single day of the event and for at least six hours per day
  • I aim to have closer to 10 books published by this time next year. This way, I give visitors to my stand more variety to look through.


About The Segilola Salami Show

The Segilola Salami show is hosted by Segilola Salami who is also an author and a self publishing strategist. She provides one to one support to aspiring authors to help them self publish their own books and make a success of it. Her latest book is called Yetunde: An Ode to My Mother. Part of the proceeds from the sales of this book goes towards helping UK Charity Jigsaw4u.

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