Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: lead generation

The DemiCon 30 header identifies the Convention's name, theme (It's about time), and dates (May 3-5, 2019). The background is a wavy cityscape with a large clock superimposed on the upper right.

Why I go to science fiction conventions

I still owe you a DemiCon 30 report, but this week it’s time to get ready for ConQuesT 50. In a couple more weeks, it’ll be time for SoonerCon 28. Maybe I’ll eventually catch up with myself, but one never knows.

There are a great many Indie authors who don’t understand why anyone would go to that many science fiction conventions, much less three additional ones (SpikeCon, FenCon, and Archon), over the course of the next few months. “I always lose money,” they say, or words to that effect.

I have a working hypothesis that, in the parlance of marketing, they are seriously discounting the value of brand-building, and focusing too much on lead-generation, but never mind. I guess this summer will be a “living laboratory” to test my own hypotheses about book-marketing.

Here's a photo of Jan S. Gephardt standing next to her fantasy paper sculpture Art Show display at DemiCon 30. Photo by Lucy A. Synk.
Here’s me with my DemiCon 30 Art Show display of fantasy paper sculpture.
Photo by Lucy A. Synk.

Thing is, long before I had this book to sell, I went to sf conventions. I sold art. I even ran an art show (at ConQuesT) for three years. I have yet to sell enough artwork to break even on expenses. On the other hand, I met lots of other authors, artists, editors, and individuals in science-fiction-adjacent fields, such as astronomy and rocketry.

I met all three of the literary agents who’ve represented me, at sf conventions. I met and had good conversations or other interactions (minds out of the gutter, people!) with artists, writers, editors, and more. With people whose names you’d know, if you are interested in my genres. Not to mention finding nearly all of my closest friends there.

I remain an active member of both KaCSFFS, the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, Inc., and ASFA, the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists, Inc. Eventually, I’ll probably join SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Why? Because I value their input, their wisdom-of-the-group, and their network. Most of all, my friendships within them.

I just have to admit it. They’re my peeps, and I love them. They know a lot, too. A lot of things, a lot of people, and a lot of fun stuff. They’re lovely human beings (even when they’re kinda “out there”), and over the years they’ve taught me amazing things. They’ve introduced me to wonderful new people, books, media, and ideas. My life would be much less wonderful without them.

My question to the doubters is, “Why on earth wouldn’t I go to science fiction conventions?

IMAGE CREDITS: I’d like to thank all the conventions whose headers I used: Capricon 39, DemiCon, ConQuesT, SoonerCon, SpikeCon, FenCon, and Archon. I appreciate you! Nearly all of the rest of these photos were taken by me at DemiCon 30, with the express permission of their subjects. I deeply appreciate them! The sole exception is the photo of me, standing by my DemiCon 30 Art Show display. That one was taken by Lucy A. Synk, and is used with her permission. Thanks, Lucy!

“Moving the needle” and author readings

I just wrapped up a delightful weekend at ConQuesT 49 in Kansas City, MO. Yes, it’s my “home convention,” but it was a particularly good one, this year–and I’m not the only one I heard say that.

The presentations by the amazing Elizabeth Leggett were worth the price of admission, all by themselves–Especially the big reveal of my friend Lynette M. Burrows’cover for her soon-to-be-available new book, My Soul to KeepIt was part of Leggett’s presentation on the making of book covers.

This is only a tiny glimpse of the “Book Cover” presentation by Elizabeth Leggett, featuring development of the cover for My Soul to Keep by Lynette M. Burrows, a spine-tingling alternate-history thriller soon to be released by Rocket Dog Publications.

Unfortunately, I was so busy I barely got to see half of the wonderful Dealers’ Room, and never made it all the way around the entire Art Show, though I helped hang the mail-in art. Did manage to get a photo of my own display.

Here is my before-sales display at the ConQuesT 49 Art Show. I sold several of my larger pieces!

I spent a lot of time at author readings, during the convention. I had my own reading on Saturday–and was overjoyed when I got a good audience! Thanks, everyone! 

I make a point of going to other authors’ readings, too–for several reasons. I like to know what their current projects are, and because it’s fun to find new things to read. I also like to support my fellow writers–and it’s a lot more fun to read your work aloud when there’s someone eager to listen!

Just a few of the books from which their authors selected scenes to read at ConQuesT 49: L-R, Blood Songsby Julia S. MandalaSinger’s Callby J. R. Bolesand The Alchemist’s Stone, by Kevin WohlerI either own, or will soon buy, copies of all of them.

I had panels opposite some of the authors I wanted to hear, but I did get a chance to listen to Kevin WohlerJ.R. BolesJim YeltonJulia S. Mandala, and Van Allen Plexico. I also really wanted to hear Sean DemoryLynette M. Burrows, R. L. Naquinand Rob Howell, but unfortunately I had duties elsewhere when they were reading.

One thing I did notice was that all readers are not equally audible, or intelligible. I was half-planning to create a post about “Reading Best Practices,” but Lynette beat me to it–and I don’t think I can improve on her excellent post! If you are an author who does readings–or if you know an author who does readings–give her post a close look! If you look at readings as a marketing vehicle, or if you plan to record your own audio-version, pay close attention to her advice!

It also pays to advertise, so come prepared with pre-printed information about where to find your work, and what it’s about. I’m always amazed how many authors forget to tell what the book is about, in their promotional material. Authors (especially Indie authors) sometimes think that making appearances at sf conventions isn’t worth the effort because it doesn’t normally result in an immediate jump in sales.

J. R. Boles and Sean Demory, who teamed up this winter as part of the Palookaville team, both did readings at ConQuesT 49. They came to meet fans, talk about their work, and share thoughts. That’s sold brand-building.

It also pays to advertise, so come prepared with pre-printed information about where to find your work, and what it’s about. I’m always amazed how many authors forget to tell what the book is about, in their promotional material. Authors (especially Indie authors) sometimes think that making appearances at sf conventions isn’t worth the effort because it doesn’t normally result in an immediate jump in sales.

But I am convinced that appearances at conventions are not so much about lead generation as they are about brand-buildingWhy do you think so many traditionally-published writers with established reputations still bother with going to conventions? It’s a chance to interface directly with a larger number of one’s fans, and to impress more, through your knowledge on panels, your attention, which is flattering, and your demonstrated grace. Of course–if you don’t demonstrate much grace (skip panels or readings, hide out in your room, or shy away from fans), you won’t develop a whole lot of brand loyalty!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Elizabeth Leggett’s public Facebook page, for the image of developmental stages for the cover of My Soul to Keep by Lynette M. Burrows! I took the photo of my Art Show panels; you may re-post the photo with my blessings if you don’t alter it, give an attribution to me, and link back to this post. The cover image for Blood Songs is from Amazon; the cover image for Singer’s Call is from J. R. Boles; and the cover for The Alchemist’s Stone is from Kevin Wohler. The photo of J. R. Boles and Sean Demory is from Sean Demory’s Facebook page

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