Con-Fluence: My Weekend as a “Real Writer” at Con


Originally, I had promised that I would try to live-blog from Steel City Con.

The reason this didn’t happen is that I was both too busy and having too much fun to do so.

This first Con with my fellow writer and partner in crime, Spike Bowan, was an absolute blast. On one hand, it was work. A lot of carnival barking – me shouting “Words for sale! Organic, locally-sourced, free-range words for sale!” among other fun lines – and a lot of something else I don’t typically do: selling myself.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I have a real problem with talking about myself or my book. The more I did it over the weekend, the easier it became and the more books I sold.

It has been something to the tune of seven years since I was last a salesman. With the help of the large crowds and lots of coffee, I was able to launch right back into the groove. I used to be a master salesman and have been told by some that I have the gift of gab. I was very proud of my sales skills back in the day when I had to memorize the specs on a cabinet full of camera equipment and fill other people’s needs. This was a bit different. It’s still all about filling a need but one for straight-up entertainment rather than the hobby/utility of the camera business.

I got a pretty good pitch down and was able to convince a lot of people to at least pick up the book and read the back cover, though fewer actually bought. Still, every sale is a reader. Every reader has the potential to spread the word.

We needed the carnival barker thing happening. Unlike the other artists in Artist Alley, we were not the visual sort. People didn’t see brightly colored rows of prints prominently displayed. In order to attract people, we had to call out to them. I was looking people in the eye asking, “Do you like words? Do you like many words arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner?”

This opening line reeled in a surprising amount of people. Everyone loves a smart-ass.

Aside from the sales, both Spike and I made good friends with the people around us. I found an artist in the lovely and talented A.C. Mickey who produced her renditions of both Zoey and Agent Moorsblade from U7, solely from descriptions I’d written up. Her version of Zoey is frighteningly close to mine. She told me to call it fan-art, but I’m calling it a commission. She might be a fan of me as a person, but she’s yet to read the book. I love her style and want her to draw her version of all of my characters. I think it fits very well with the playful attitude of the book. Anna-ZoeyAlso, she gave Zoey a pixie cut, which is something I’ve never been daring enough to do with her ever-changing hair. Love that drawing. I’ll have to post Agent Moorsblade once I get a shot of the original art.

Also, we made good friends with Brian Hagan and his family. His daughter, Lemony, became the mascot of the three-booth area and drew many a cosplayer to our tables with her genuine amazement, especially anyone dressed Thor or a Pony. Brian’s a writer, kind of like me. If you like U7, you’ll enjoy The Horrible Plan of Horace Pickle which is a superhero novel where the hero tries to stop the villain from destroying mashed potatoes forever. Yes, you read that right. It’s very funny in the vein of Douglas Adams.

Spike and I had so much fun we’re going back for seconds this April. We made sure that our little three-booth family all signed up for the same tables so that we can be together again and we’ve also made many strides toward making IAM (Independent Authors of the Mon-Valley) a larger and more organized effort. These are good people and we want to continue working with them in any possible aspect. And, I’m not just saying that because they might be reading this. I absolutely mean it.

I collected many a business card of (and gave many a business card to) people wanting to work with us, wanting to join in on IAM if, for nothing else, the promise of mutually assured promotion which as I mentioned in my previous blog about self-publishing, is most of the battle. “It’s hard out here,” was the go-to line when fellow indie authors would ask about the self-publishing avenue. That’s no lie, it is. Most of the sales I made this weekend I worked hard for; pitching, hoping, handing out tiny spoilers. Having confidence (or the appearance thereof) is key, I found. The same as with any sales pitch.

In the end, this weekend was awesome. I met some truly great people and made good friends with whom I hope to work in the future. If I met you and left your name out, it’s only for the sake of brevity. I will openly pimp anyone’s stuff, especially if we talked or made any kind of connection.

One last cool thing: I loved the way some people’s faces lit up when I asked if they wanted me to sign their book. Like, they didn’t realize that I was the author pimping my own stuff. Not only that, but their reaction to my pitch about the book and the legitimate interest they showed when I explained what it was about. I’m very much looking forward to seeing some new likes on Facebook and new Twitter followers.

This was, all around, a most profitable weekend.

We will be back in April and I cannot wait. Still looking for that elusive U7 cosplayer, still have a prize in store. Get your costume ready and come see me in the spring!

Oh, and I inscribed almost every book with:

Keep fighting the good fight.

—end transmission—

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