This weekend is Steel City Con.
It’s my first big public outing as a self-published author. Yeah, I did the Too Groovy Toy Show as well, but that feels like just a warm-up compared to what I’m going to be facing this weekend.
Contrary to my nerdy archetype, I have only ever been to one Con prior to this one. Over the summer, my wife and I went to Fan Expo Toronto which happened to be going on during a weekend we decided to visit the Great White North. This was a totally on-the-fly decision. We only found out it was going on during the week leading up to our trip. We were walk-ins.
The place was busy but not as packed as I’ve seen in footage from San Diego. This was one of the bigger Cons in Canada from what I was told. It had the misfortune of being held the same weekend as DragonCon, which is ultimately bigger and drew more of just about everything than Fan Expo Toronto.
Based on what I saw in Toronto, I’m pretty excited for what I’ve got myself into at Steel City Con. While I understand that it will likely be markedly smaller (Toronto’s was held in their main urban convention center which is HUGE), I’m still very very excited about it.
It’s cool to think that I’m going to be on the other side of a booth. That I’m not going to be one of the browsing masses but that my product – the thing I’ve put so much of my life into – is going to be available for mass consumption directly to my main demographic. I’m excited to interact with the people some of whom, if I’m lucky, will have already read my book and will be there to see me, shake my hand, and tell me what they liked about my little story.
It’s likely that last part won’t happen but it won’t stop me from hoping. People think I’m joking when I say that I will give a special prize to the first ever Unlucky Seven cosplayer. I am not. I already have the prize in my possession. I’ll have it with me at Con just in case though I doubt anyone will step up to claim it. U7 isn’t that big… yet.
I still have trouble believing that Unlucky Seven is out there and being read by other people. When friends of mine are talking about it – which characters they like, their favorite moments, etc – it feels strange. The whole U7 world was something that was mine and mine alone for a very, very long time. Now, I have people discussing the intimate details with me; asking me questions about things that were alluded to in the book with certain characters or situations, specifically, things that were left unexplained to be revealed later. I know all the answers but am loathe to distribute spoilers, though I have been known to leak certain details to people I consider fans.
Having someone tell me that they love a character I’ve created is the most amazing feeling I’ve ever experienced. For someone else to talk with affection about a person who has only been in my head and on paper in front of me for over a decade makes me feel like I’ve done my job properly. The main compliments I get about the book usually involve the characters. It’s easy to put a lot of soul into them when I’ve known them in fiction for over a decade. It’s fun to see how their final (for better or worse) incarnations are received. Early conclusion: my next book should be entitled Everybody Loves Phalanx.
Also, I’ve been told that my naturalistic and flowing dialogue brings all the nerds to the yard. That was sort of the point. This is a book for geeks by a geek. This is the inner voice of the geek culture reacting to superhero origin stories. There’s still an expected suspension of disbelief between the reader and the story but not so much for the characters analyzing their own story. I like to think it’s a unique happy medium between pure superhero fantasy and the brutal reality of being a real-life vigilante.
I may come across a bit bold (read: egotistical) in my writings here but, believe me, it’s hard for me to see the merit in the things I do. I have very low self-confidence in this and most other things in my life. Mama didn’t raise no braggard. I was groomed to be humble. I find it tough to talk to most people about the merits of my book. I don’t know how to react to positive criticism most of the time. When people say: “You wrote a book?” with that happy sort-of surprised tone, I answer: “Yep, a whole book. Has words in it and everything.” They usually ask what it’s about. “Superheroes” is my default answer. Explaining the whole dust-jacket sizzle text makes me feel stupid. I know, I should be more confident and salesman-like but I’m sheepish about it for psychological reasons of which I’m mostly unclear.
Steel City Con will be an interesting experience because, for once, I’ll have to stand proudly and acknowledge my work. I’ll be forced to craft a sales pitch. I’m trying to get my words out there and into the hands of people who will appreciate them in hopes that they’ll pass word along if they like it. I have to remember that finishing a novel of any length and releasing it to the masses by any means is an achievement of hard work, perseverance, and most of all bravery. I feel like leaving U7 to be judged by the fickle and potentially volatile essence that is the Internet took some large pendulous brass ones to accomplish especially when I’m working with grassroots marketing. Amazon Reviews, Goodreads fans, Facebook and Twitter followers… these mean the world to me, especially when my followers work to help me out. Hint hint.
I’m nervous. I’m excited. Hopefully I’ll see you there.
I’ll likely be live-blogging when possible (if possible) this weekend. Stay tuned.
A special additional thanks to all of my GoFundMe donors. You helped me amass 125 books to sell at Con. My wife is worried I’ll run out. I’m looking forward to that, honestly.
Remember, there’s a prize in it if you are the first U7 cosplayer. And no, people on whom I based characters, showing up as yourself does not count. Showing up as another U7 character, however…
Keep fighting the good fight.