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Being conned


So, continuing the Promo - what works for me season, this week I present: Selling at Cons.

This weekend I was lucky enough to have my first experience of a Comic con as a published author. I went with Dept 51, the sff arm of the Easons stores, and had a table to the side for me to sign at and chat to potential victims -- sorry, readers...

My observations/tips

1. Find a way to let the people passing know you are the author. For the first day, few realised and that definitely had an impact on interest. Later, I used a business card as a badge and that helped, but a picture of me to put on the poster, for instance, would have been good. Also, some detail of my reviews would have been good, maybe the headlines of them. It was useful saying I had good reviews but the evidence wasn't there.

2. Have a couple of approaches/blurbs in mind. A grimdark space opera was the quickest way in for me, but buzz words like character-led and a description of the Inverted Chosen One concept (my chosen one doesn't just dust himself off and continue) worked well. That it was focused on the psychology of trauma was another slant that I talked about a lot.

3. Be passionate. If you can't enthuse about your book why would anyone else! I grant, after 2 days talking about it, it gets a little old, but, really, the passion is what sells it for a debut author. No one knows you. You have to generate interest.

4. Be interested. It's a two way process, not a sales pitch. I heard some fab tales from other writers, from genre buffs, from all sorts. Not all of them bought my book, good craic was still had.

5. The morning is slow. People come with a set idea what they want to see - and a debut author's book is not it! Later, though, when the first things have been seen people browse. Also, a set amount of money may have been put aside for the event and, if the end is coming near, and some money remains, some are more open to taking a gamble.

6. Network, don't sell. This isn't just about flogging copies, although that's nice. It's about making links, getting the word out there. If someone doesn't read but are into gaming, ask for a facebook share. Do the same back if it helps them. Give out cards with your contact details - I've had a couple of follow-ups since.

7. Blag. There's little to lose. I got an interview with a journalist by doing that and the book's name, and mine, are in a province-wide newspaper today.

8. Know when to stand back. Mark Stay, writer of Our Robot Overlords was also signing. A newby hovering around his crowd trying to sell their own book isn't just unprofessional - it looks sad. Sure, say hi, enjoy the buzz. Chat if someone wants to. But don't crowd. And if someone wants help with the other book later, promote it with good grace. Karma, surely, will return.

9. Bring food! Taking a break is good, but sometimes things get busy and it doesn't happen. Have some stuff on tap. Plus, it's a con, food's dear and you're an emerging writer. So, you know, buy your banana for 10p at the supermarket.

10. Enjoy it! I was talking to people about my book. They were interested. It's what we dream of. So, sure it's busy and tiring and a bit dull in the quiet bits. But it's also great fun, with interesting people.

Oh, and lastly. Say thanks!

And on that note, to my hosts - Easons and Department 51, thank you!

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