As the author or co-author of seven nonfiction books (the first of which was published in 1993), and now as a debut novelist at the age of 54, I am a bit of an industry veteran. I have been to so many book-related conferences, trade shows, and signings that I have pretty much seen it all. (One time I arrived at an event to discover that I had been given second-billing to a goat. I admit that he was a very cute goat, but still…)
I had never been to SIBA, however. Because my novel, Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society, is set in Naples circa 1962, attending SIBA/Naples three weeks before my pub date was irresistible.
I was not disappointed. First of all, there was no goat! Seriously, however, I was impressed by an event that was so well-planned that even the babies (as I think of the adorable debut novelists half my age) seemed at ease. This is no small accomplishment! As everyone knows, people who choose to write at home for a living tend to be rather introverted, and even those of us who are not painfully shy find ourselves a little nervous at the start of a conference or event. All those people! All those books! All at once!
The vibe at SIBA/Naples was supportive, warm, and friendly toward authors. And yet, it was an enormously complex series of events where much was accomplished from a business point of view. From my experience, it is unusual for both of these elements to come together so seamlessly. Thank you, Wanda Jewell, the SIBA staff, and all of the volunteers for making this happen.