by S. L. Duncan
This weekend I got to speak at my first Nerd Con (I say that with affection) in my official capacity as an author. To say that attending the Alabama Phoenix Festival was an amazing, brilliant experience would be understating the sheer awesomeness of the event.
Asked as the only agented and traditionally published author to speak on several panels for the SciFi and Fantasy Literature Track, I had the pleasure to participate in engaging the audience alongside some fantastic independent talents, including M. B. Weston, Teal Haviland, Amy Leigh Stickland, and Christal Mosley.
What I learned from these authors, which I think is applicable to all authors, traditional or indie or self, is what a fantastic resource these conventions can be for expanding your readership.
Since I’m still a year and change out from publication, I didn’t have anything to sell. They did, though. And let me tell you, they sold. More importantly, their readership expanded. Not necessarily because they were able to put books in hands (though it helped, I’m sure), but probably more because they were able to meet and greet actual readers who shared interest in these author’s genres and subjects.
So let’s break down why you, as an author, should check out the next convention in your neck of the woods.
THE BUSINESS – You sell books. I mean, that’s kinda the point of all this, isn’t it?
THE OBVIOUS – You get to meet the people who are interested in reading your stuff. A good book gets word of mouth. But make a good impression on the reader personally when you meet them and they’ll tell everyone that they know just how cool you are. You know what people do for authors they like? See above.
THE NETWORKING – You’ll meet other authors. Get to know them. Don’t be a prick. Following that bit of advice might score you a guest post on those authors’ blogs. Or an interview. Or Tweets about your book. Or facebook posts about you. See what I’m getting at? Audience sharing. They’re not shouting into a void. They’re telling their readers. Besides the back-scratching aspect of networking with other like-minded authors at a convention or conference, it’s just plain fun.
BUY LOCAL – This may not apply to all conventions, depending on where you live, but if you’re attending a con that takes place in your community, your attending neighbors will likely take special interest. Everyone likes it when someone from his or her town/city/hole in the ground does well.
There are all sorts of conventions out there – romance, crime, thriller, SciFi / fantasy, horror – you name it, and it probably exists. If you know of one, reach out. Tell them you’re an author. You might find it to be just as beneficial to your career as it is fun.
Just prepare for complete exhaustion when it’s over.
So. What’s your local con that might be appropriate for your work?