Going Indie means going it alone, and doing it the hard way. However–there are now small bands of indies coming together to help each other, and in the process, help themselves.
One such organization is Northwest Independent Writers Association, an organization of indie and small-press authors based in Western Oregon and Western Washington. We seem to be situated along the I-5 corridor from south of the Portland area north through the Seattle area.
This last week I attended Norwescon, carpooling the first day with fellow Myrddin Publishing Group author, Lee French. She is an awesome person, as well as a wonderful, creative author.
My book, Huw the Bard, was in the rack at the NIWA table, and I met some of the most wonderful people: Angela Korra’ti, Madison Keller, Jake Elliot, and Luna Lindsey were all there, manning the table and helping each person who stopped to find a book that fit them, regardless of if it was their own book or not–we were selling each others’ books as well as our own.
I ran into my good friend, fellow NIWA member, Thomas Gondolfi , who was working his own booth.
Saturday night, Lee, Jake, Angela and I had dinner with fellow NIWA member, steampunk author, Jeffrey Cook.
My feet are killing me–today, I am not sure I will do it again, but I am glad I did this time. My view will likely change as I begin to feel rested again.
Huw the Bard was not a good fit for that venue–they were more into fairies and steampunk, which Huw is obviously not. However, I think he would do well at a ren-fair, as the people who were interested in him were all ren-fair people. Most likely my best books for a gaming venue will be my World of Neveyah series, as it is RPG game-based, and gaming of all varieties is what Norwescon is all about.
Standing in the booth for most of 4 days did me in, I do confess. I also was somewhat of a 5th wheel, in that the booth was too small for the number of authors who were there and willing to contribute their time and energy to the project. There was only room for 1 chair, and so we stood. I felt a bit unnecessary, at times, which is not a good way to feel, but they very kindly tolerated me.
Angela Korra’ti has a knack for selling her books, and I tried to learn as much as I could from her. Jake Elliot and Lee French seemed to know what they were doing too–there is definitely a learning curve to pitching your book live and in person.
Being an indie author, or being published by a small press means you are on your own as far as getting the word out about your books. This means if you want your books seen at a convention, you have to pay for the table, buy your stock, and get the word out, because no one else will.
It also means you must spend the convention in the dealers’ room at your booth, pitching your product to strangers, rather than taking in the panels and hearing speakers like George R. R. Martin. But I did see him in the lobby while I was getting coffee, and I saw many, many people who really love his work, far more than I do–and they stood for hours to get to see him.
I would have loved to hear George speak, but I had books of my own to hawk. I never thought I would live long enough to be able to say that.
This is where you discover that going indie means honing an elevator pitch that will sell your book in thirty seconds. That will be my next trick.
This is also where you discover that the Sparco cash-box you bought, and that was not cheap, is nearly impossible to unlock, but it makes an awesome weapon if you are ever mugged on the way back to your hotel. Which I wasn’t, but I’m an author, and that’s how I think.
It’s also where you discover that your target audience was not at that convention.
Most importantly, this is where you realize that your poor old feet are just not up to you spending 10 hours a day standing on them.
I understand there is some controversy regarding the Hugo award nominations–but I didn’t hear them announced, as I was trying to sell books. I suppose a shakeup is inevitable, and I will have to do some reading to find out for myself what the problem is, in the eyes of the reading world. That will be interesting–accusations of blocks of special interest groups gaming the outcome and such intrigue me, and I will definitely want to get to the bottom of that!
14 responses to “Conventions: Hawking your books vs attending the convention”
Verily thou needeth a clone!
@Stephen–I so agree!
Interesting. I didn’t participate in this table because I didn’t learn about it in time, but I suspect my books would have been as out of place as you felt yours was, so maybe it’s not so much of a loss. I will be participating in the WorldCon table, or at least having a couple of my books there. I suspect this will be a learning experience, too, even if I’m now wondering if my books will be a good fit there.
@Meg–I suggest you do it anyway–the experience was well worth it!
Oh, I’ve already sent Jeff my money, so I’m not going to back out now [g]. It’ll be an interesting experiment, I think. I just wish I could figure out where my books *do* fit. I write cross-genre — historical supernatural adventure with the occasional minor romantic subplot.
I think that will be a different venue than Norwescon was, and you may be surprised! I will be sending two books to Worldcon, possibly 3.
It’s a relatively cheap experiment, too. I’m taking the first book in each of my two series. How many copies of each are you sending?
I will send two books – Ten should be enough of each!
Good job, even if it wasn’t quite the right market for Huw.
That’s great that you can get a table together with so many authors – it looks so much better than a single author with just their own books. I’ve been to four Cons in the last 18 months and so far I’ve spent them networking and frequently visiting the freebie tables to make sure my giant bookmarks stay visible and topped up – quite a lot go, though I’ve no idea how many translate into sales.
I’m hoping to join with another author to do a table at a future date, fingers crossed that works out, but perhaps we should start a group like yours – looks like a fab idea.
@Deborah–it couldn’t hurt!
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You were a blast to work with—never in the way—and a great part of the team. The crowd is always fickle. It is fairies today, dragons tomorrow. The trick I learned this week from Angela was noticing how she speaks confidently of her work and can offer that fast synopsis identifying her as different from the other titles on the table. Like you said in your post, the indies and small press authors need to run the whole gambit; storyteller, salesperson, and marketeer. Writing is a great hobby, but a terrible career unless you are one of the extreme few.
@Jake–you were a darling to work with–oh the hilarity! And Angela is our Obi Wan. (I get to be Yoda. 900 years I am…)
It was certainly a learning experience. I have a zounds-load of ideas for how to prep for my next few appearances, if nothing else. 🙂
You were awesome-you did so well pitching your books!