This month I’m afraid I don’t have much experience to draw on for my blog post. I’ve attended exactly one writing related convention in my life. And that was Denver ComicCon in 2015. I was invited to participate because of my Superstars Writing Seminars attendance in February of 2015, and at the time I was living on a separation package from being laid off, so I had time to kill. I agreed, even though I had no books to sell and would mostly be doing the grunt work of hauling books, selling other author’s books and trying to get the public to buy books.
It was also a chance to network with some actual published authors, which is valuable in itself.
There is some work to do pre-convention to set up the booth, but that’s about as interesting as it sounds. So I’ll focus instead on the activities on the actual convention floor.
The first thing I was asked to do was to distribute leaflets directing people to the booth itself. The meant walking the line of incoming attendees as they waited to get inside, and handing out the leaflets. For a natural introvert like me, that was stressful enough, but I managed to get through it.
Then I was back behind the booth, using an iPad with a card-reading device to take orders. That wasn’t too bad either. Then I was asked if I would be willing to “work the floor.” Which meant moving out from behind the booth, into the milling mass of feverish fandom. Right there with the cosplayers and the hardcore fan base.
So I waded in. Again, my natural introversion makes this sort of thing very difficult for me. On top of that, I tend to dislike being approached myself in such situations, so I felt more than a little hypocritical even attempting to engage with the public.
But I try my best to fulfill my obligations, so I buckled down and did my best.
“Excuse me, ma’am, I couldn’t help but notice your Star Wars T-shirt. Are you a fan? You are? That’s great, I remember standing in line for the first one back in 1977. Say, if you like Star Wars, you would probably really enjoy these books set in the Star Wars universe…”
“Hi there, that’s an awesome steampunk outfit you’ve got there. Do you like steampunk novels? You do? Well, come on over here, because I think you’ll like this.”
Over and over, for hours. Sometimes you get the cold shoulder. Sometimes you get the “are you flirting with me” gaze, but mostly people are willing to check things out and over time, the sales accumulated. It was amazing to see how well it worked. But that’s mostly because the product I was selling, was a solid product. In many cases the author of the books I was directing people toward were behind the booth, so I could increase the effectiveness of the pitch with:
“Oh, you like the look of this one? Well, if you have any questions, the author happens to be right here, and I’ll be glad to introduce you.”
That leads to signed versions of books being sold, and that usually makes everyone happier.
I’d like to do more convention work. I’d like to sell my own books at a convention. Unfortunately I still haven’t been able to get away from the reality of a day job that is still paying the bills.
But someday. Hopefully soon. 🙂