Conventions for Writers: Are They Worth It?

26 05 2015

This past Memorial Day weekend, I attended ConQuesT in Kansas City. It was my fourth such visit and it was by far the best con experience I’ve had so far. How did I make that happen? Well, I’ll tell you.

Confluence of Efforts: My novel was out this time and on the table to be sold. And it sold five copies. People liked the texture of the cover stock (no foolin’. It made a difference!). Folks nodded and made DeNiro face at the “Preliminary Ballot of the Stokers.” The back copy and blurbs made people stare and wonder if they could risk reading such a well-received thriller.

So writers: Have your ad copy up to professional standards.

Surrounded By Help: The book sold at the table of my publisher, Noble Fusion Press. My publisher laid out a professional presentation with other authors of note like Lawrence Schoen, who has a Hugo nomination and two Nebula nominations, one Neb nom for his current offering on the table right beside my book.

Writers: You cannot do it all yourself. Find like-minded people like writers groups and coordinate your efforts and skills.

MAGIC ATTENTION-GRABBING WORD: Yes, there is a magic word that will pull in passers-by. No, not that one. Or that one. The word is “chocolate.”
I crooned, “Cho-co-la-a-ate.” I held a gem of Dove Bite aloft between my fingers. The passersby swayed to the siren call, then succumbed.

Writers: Offer chocolate. Good stuff. Quality chocolate means you respect your audience.

Volunteer for Panel Discussions: Concentrate on your areas of obvious expertise. If you contact early and offer to panel, the committee may solicit you for ideas for panels. If you don’t feel comfortable in front of people, offer to help the con committee in setting up. Either way, you meet people who do what you do and want to help you do it better.

Socialize: After programming parties are swell. Even the tipsy people act like grown-ups. Go to the hotel bar and look for a familiar face: “Hey, I really liked your panel…” or even say “Hi, I’m new here. How’s your day been?” Don’t try to sell. Just meet people. Everything is about people.

What did I get from the convention? Lovely face-to-face time with my publisher. Meeting another small press publisher. A regaining of confidence. Encouragement on two novels I will now write proposals for. A possible novel collaboration. A whole bunch of people who will remember my name and think “chocolate” and “nice guy who wasn’t pushy”.

It is a small foundation but it is solid and ready to be built upon.


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