Tag Archives: comicon

Planet Comicon – Kansas City, Missouri

If you aren’t familiar with me, I’ve hit about 60 conventions in the past three and a half years. From coast to coast and north to south, I’ve hit most of the big ones and many of the medium-sized comic, genre, and media conventions across the country. I can honestly say that Planet Comicon is in my top five conventions of all time. I’ve been there for the past three years in a row, and I’ll keep going back so long as they have me.

I need to point out that my attendance has always been with either the Word Fire Press booth or Bard’s Tower. I’ve never attended it as an individual author. However, I can say that I have several indie authors who have, and they’ve all done well at the convention… if they were go-getters, anyway (more on what that means later).

Next season, Planet Comicon will be February 16th, 17th, and 18th in it’s usual location of Bartle Hall in beautiful downtown Kansas City. This is two months earlier than it’s normal April schedule, which puts it right before Pensacon, in Pensacola, Florida, and although I’m trying to avoid back-to-back conventions, I’ll probably still try and go, because I like it so much.

So, what is there to like about Planet Comicon?

Because it’s in the midwest, the prices for vendors and artists to get space is considerably lower than one would find at bigger conventions on the east or west coast. That can make your book sales and ROI propositions much easier to manage than in other places. They advertise the convention well, take care of their attendees, and have high repeat-attendance.

Another thing about this convention is that there are a lot of readers in the area, and not all shows do. No matter when I’ve been there, we’ve always had good sales numbers. The attendees are affable and open to being approached by new and established authors alike. The folks running the convention also take good care of the artists, actors, media personalities, and vendors. I’ve never heard of any issues, and I’ve seen most of the vendors there again and again over the years. This means there’s no reason for them to take their business elsewhere.

The key here, and this goes for any convention you attend as an indie author with a table, is that you must be a go-getter. You have to engage your target market actively and non-stop. If you’re the sort of author who sits behind the table, butt in chair, watching people walk by and hoping they stop to ask you about your book, you might as well give up the business now. Stay home, write more, and submit to the Big Five. If you want to sell books, however, and put your sales in the green and well above your costs, then you need to be standing up at the table and engaging as may of the attendees as you can. The convention circuit is not for shut-ins. The second you hit that vendor floor, you have to put on your salesman hat and talk to as many people as possible.

That’s the trick to earning a living as a convention-going author.

Working a convention floor is a lot like hawking your wares in an old Turkish marketplace. It’s about being noticed, chatting up the passers-by, making friends with them, and making sure they walk away with a book in their hands and their money in your pocket.

Kansas City is a great place to do that, and once you get rolling, you may find you have an appetite for it.

I’ll add that the downtown area is a nice place to just walk around. There are shops and restaurants and a public transit rail system that lets you see more of the area if you want to take the time. There’s also some KILLER BBQ to be had all over the place. Now, if you’re on a budget, there’s a nice little market not far from Bartle Hall that allows you to get really good food by the pound, with a selection of entrees, appetizers, salads, and whatnot. They also have some pretty good sushi, if you lean that way–which I do.

Planet Comicon is on my list of favorites, because it’s a great selling environment, has a delightful downtown area, and is a relatively low-cost city to stay in, if you can manage it.

If you are looking for a solid, larger-sized convention with a strong reading audience, I heartily recommend you add it to your list of conventions for the 2018 season.

Good luck, and KEEP WRITING!

Q ~

Confessions of a Con Novice

A few years ago at a writing seminar I was asked if I’d be attending a local upcoming “Con.” I wasn’t exactly sure what a Con was. My friend clarified that she was referring to “Comicon.”

This may come as a surprise to some, but I hadn’t ever heard of Comicon. Or Dragon Con or Worldcon except that it sounded like Worldcom. (No I promise that isn’t a knock at the Hugos. I really was this ignorant).

But I didn’t want to flaunt my ignorance so I googled, Comicon and sure enough there was one in Phoenix that summer.

Have you ever learned an exotic word that you could swear you’ve never heard before, but once you learn it, you hear it everywhere? All of the sudden, everyone I knew was talking about Comicon.

So I gathered the family and we ventured to the conference center. I was blown away at how popular it was. There were crowds upon crowds of people, most dressed up like it was Halloween. Someone asked me if I was into Cosplay. This was also a new word for me and it sounded, well, kinky, so I shook my head and ran away.

As far as the Con, My kids loved it. I loved it. My wife would have preferred about anything else but she obliged, allowing me to be amongst “my people” as she lovingly called the attendees.

So, I’m still a Con novice, but I’m gaining experience. I have attended a smaller con in Arizona and last year I went to Salt Lake Comic Con as a volunteer in the Word Fire Press exhibitor booth.

And today, I have returned one year later to that same Con of Cons to be amongst my Word Fire friends but this time I brought my son and I might even let him Cosplay. Because I’ve made it my mission as a dad to help my children have a better childhood than I had. That’s how we make the world a better place. My son knows what a Con is. He also knows that Salt Lake Comic Con is different (though it is of similar pronunciation) than Phoenix Comicon or San Diego Comic-Con. And there are a good many more Cons of comics and other great things.

Here’s a helpful list and for the sake of humanity, please take your children; after all they are our future.

Salt Lake Comic Con – August 31 – September 3, 2016

San Diego Comic-Con – July 21 – 24, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – June 2 – 5, 2016

Phoenix Comicon – Fan Fest Dec 4 – 6, 2015

Dragon Con (Atlanta) – September 2 – 5, 2016

2016 Worldcon hosted by MidAmeriCon II (Kansas City, MO) – August 17 – 21, 2016

Rose City Comic Con (Oregon) – September 10 – 11, 2016

World Fantasy Con 2015 (Saratoga Springs, NY) – November 5 – 8

World Fantasy Con 2016 (Columbus, OH) – October 27 – 30

Click here to see a bunch more

 

jace 1I live in Arizona with my family, wife and five kids and a little dog. I write fiction, thrillers and soft sci-fi with a little short horror on the side. I’ve got an MBA and work in finance for a biotechnology firm.

I volunteer with the Boy Scouts, play and write music, and enjoy everything outdoors. I’m also a novice photographer.

You can visit my author website at www.jacekillan.com, and you can read some of my works by visiting my Wattpad page.

That Moment it went from Hobby to Career

researchWhen I picked my topic for this month (titled above) I didn’t realize the title of my first Fictorian post this year, “Keeping the Day Job.” The two titles definitely describe where I was and am in my writing and I’m happy to see the progress made this past year due in part to my keeping goals.

I wrote everyday. There might have been a month or two that I didn’t hit 20,000 words, but there were others that I surpassed that. I did not submit something each month, but I submitted 12 pieces for publishing during the year. I finished a novel, my first, The Broken Amulet, and am in the stage of cleaning it up and editing. I went to Phoenix and Salt Lake City Comicons. And I attended David Farland’s writing workshop.

It was there that writing changed for me from a hobby to a career. In that workshop I was able to see how I could actually make money at doing what I enjoy. I’ve started working on a new book. David Farland helped me see how to craft, research, and frame the story and I’m confident that I will have it in the hands of an excited publisher by the end of 2015.

There was a moment in the workshop that I realized that I could be a successful author if I continued to learn and grow and develop as a writer. There wasn’t a month last year that I wasn’t a better writer than the month before.

So I’ve set some new goals and have developed a bit of work ethic. Here are some things that I am doing different now.

  • I set up an author email, jacebkillan@gmail.com that I use to keep all my writing stuff in one place. As I have ideas for short stories or plot twists in my novels I email those to myself with a descriptive subject line so that I can find them later, but I don’t spend too much time thinking on new things and forsaking my current work in progress.
  • I set up an author profile at Wattpad. At some point I will share a short story or two. It seems to be a great tool for aspiring and published writers.
  • I write at least a couple blog posts each month. This gives me a break from my work in progress and allows me to process things on my mind. It also helps in developing a readership.
  • I started outlining my novels. This was a hard thing for me as I’m a prancer or discovery writer, but Farland’s workshop helped me get some direction without losing interest in a story once it’s laid out. Another great tool is Farland’s Million Dollar Outlines.
  • With a good outline, I’m able to research with direction. I’ve spent the last month scouring old books, the internet, and museums for research on my work in progress. The picture above is of my readings this past weekend. In my hobby days of writing I would have taken the lazy, less expensive, less timely road of just making it up. Actually, I wrote a chapter of my current work in progress before Farland’s class.

The scene takes place in Milan, Italy in 1774, where the protagonist is enjoying chicken parmesan after having travelled a great distance from Nice, France. After Farland’s class I learned through research that Milan, Italy didn’t exist in 1774 but belonged to the House of Savoy in a country known as Sardinia. And tomato sauce wasn’t really used in Italian cuisine until later. And Nice wasn’t yet a part of France either, but also belonged to Sardinia and it wasn’t until a few years later during the Napoleonic era that Nice was annexed. So I rewrote the chapter and it no longer reeks of novice.

  • I started using Scrivener to keep track of my research and keep my thoughts and outline organized.
  • Every movie, television show, book that I experience is now analyzed for its story telling features.

To wrap up, my goals for this next year are as follows

  1. Finish my work in progress
  2. Find an agent
  3. Submit at least once to Writers of the Future
  4. Finish editing The Broken Amulet
  5. Outline another novel
  6. Attend two cons
  7. Attend two writing workshops
  8. Register for Superstars in 2016

I’m confident that I will become a published writer and professional author because I continue to improve, I continue to learn, and I continue to write.

 

 

 

Now What?

A guest post by Sam Knight.

7363117Another day another dollar. Another year, another… Hmmm. A dollar. Yeesh! That’s about what it feels like. When did writing turn into a job? I didn’t sign up for this. Did I? I mean, I guess I did. I didn’t mean to. It was supposed to be fun.

Last year, I attended enough conventions that I actually lost count. Not like I went to a hundred or anything like that. I averaged a little over a convention a month—as a speaking guest, not an attendee or a vendor (although I was also an attendee and a vendor at most of them, too). There is a big difference in the drain on your personal energy. As much as going to conventions and meeting other writers and making new fans revitalizes me, staying in hotels, traveling, and being “always on” wears me out.

By the end of the con season, I actually skipped a couple of conventions. That really surprised me. The conventions were a major part of my personal goals for 2013. Heck, I even got to be on panels at both Denver and Salt Lake City Comic Cons! That was a personal goal I thought would take a lot longer to reach.

But it cost me. It drained me. I still have a family who wants me at home, kids I need to make arrangements for when I’m going to be gone, and money that hates me and runs away at the slightest hint I may have woken up.

I made most of my money by going to conventions and selling my books in 2013. Conversely, going to conventions was also my biggest expense. There is a tradeoff there, a give and take. But there was a hidden take I wasn’t seeing.

My word count, my writing production, suffered horribly. I can’t write while driving or speaking at conventions. I have met a couple of people who can, but I’m not one of them. The best I can hope for is a few flash fictions over coffee, or maybe a half of a short story.

But that is where the money really is—in my word count. The more I write, the more stuff I have to sell, and the more I sell… well, you get the point.

And I do need money to keep doing this. I am not independently wealthy, so I can’t afford to have this be the most expensive hobby ever. Even when my hotel and my vending booth are paid for by a convention, I still have expenses. And bills. And kids.

So that is what I am setting my goal for in 2014. Making money—by writing.

Don’t get me wrong, I intend to be perfectly reasonable about it. I have no delusions that I will sell a bazillion copies of anything. But I have also realized that I can’t keep pitching the same things I’ve already sold. I need more. I need a back catalogue. I need new fans to realize I have ten more things they want to buy. I need to write!

But then, I’ve been there before.

When I first started out, that’s what I did. I wrote. All the time. All by myself. And I felt like I needed to get out and meet people, go to conventions, meet other authors. And I did. Maybe too much. It kind of wore me out.

So for 2014, I plan on attending conventions, but maybe not quite as many. I plan on meeting other writers and getting together with those I already know, to revitalize my writing energy, but I will be more selective about where and when and how. And I am upping my writing game. I am going to find a way to get more work out there into the world.

When all is said and done, my goal in 2014 is to find balance. I want to find the sweet spot where I can write until I’m ready to take a break, yet still be able to take the break because I don’t have three things due already. I want to go to conventions, yet still feel giddy about going. I want to be able to run things like a small business, yet still think of myself as a writer. I want to stop thinking “Ach! When did this become a job! It was supposed to be fun,” and start thinking “This is a job? How fun!”

Guest Writer Bio: 

Sam Knight PicSam Knight refuses to be pinned down into a genre. If the idea grabs him, he writes it. Once upon a time, he was known to quote books the way some people quote movies, but now he claims having a family has made him forgetful, as a survival adaptation. He can be found at www.samknight.com and contacted at sam@samknight.com.