Planet Comicon AAR

What an exhausting weekend. Many thanks to Bill Wilks for serving as the muscle, my sweetie Nik Deplazes for assisting, and Rachel Ost for serving as the Byzantine on the bench. Without their help, I’d have never made it.

Was it worth the money to do? Obviously that has to be the first question and the answer is yes, even though I did not quite break even in sales of paperbacks compared to all of my expenses. While I would have loved to have sold more copies, I still gained quite a bit of exposure and I won’t know for at least a couple of weeks what the impact to online sales will be.

I spent today editing a large chunk of I Am a Wondrous Thing and I am starting to get the same feeling I got when I turned the corner on A Lake Most Deep and The Eyes of a Doll. The corner where I think I’ve got a good story. If I’m as correct with IAAWT as I was with the first two, given the response I’ve gotten, then it will be a good story. That means that what I need is exposure, and there’s no doubt Planet Comicon gave me quite a bit.

I was pleased to see most of my plans worked pretty well. My experience at National Computer and Atronex watching Dave Williamson two decades ago definitely helped.

I really like the banner my friend Timothy Jones printed out for me. You probably saw it in the pictures on Facebook. I liked it so much I think I’ll have another banner, this one based on the TEOAD cover, because I noticed people’s eyes looked both above the table and at the base where I had the banner. I think it will be good to have both places covered whenever possible.

One unqualified success was my “Wandering Signature Chart.” I don’t like just signing my name to books. I want to write something else, something fun. For people I know, I can write something personal directed at them, but I knew that most of my signatures would be to people I had never met before.

At Pennsic, I whimsically signed a book to a friend of a friend who I knew was a gamer with, “Congratulations, you’ve rolled a 17 on the Wandering Signature Chart.” We all laughed and I forgot about it until two weeks ago, when I thought that might be a fun thing, so I made the chart.

It includes things like the above saying, plus a bunch of book and movie references like “I love the smell of paragraphs in the morning” and “I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing printer ink.” Some people chose one, and “By my pretty, floral bonnet, I will sign this for you” was a definite favorite, but many enjoyed the whimsy of rolling a d20 for the result.

Either way, it was another way to engage the passers-by and have fun with my new readers. I had one sale solely because he wanted one of the signatures. I’ll definitely take it. The chart, and a d20, has been added to my basic display unit.

I also learned a number of things during the weekend. I’ve streamlined my accounting, and now have a good process for that. I figured out a pretty good arrangement on the table, and planned for an arrangement that will adjust to at least six different books. When I get more than six things might get crowded, but I’ll take that problem. I need to improve my signage a bit, but that’s tweaking. My signs were clear and readable.

As a side note, I want to mention Patrick McEvoy of www.megaflowgraphics.com again. He did a fantastic job on my covers, and they drew in a bunch of people, The Eyes of a Doll cover especially.

Speaking of noticing things, one of the best parts of Planet Comicon for me was people-watching. Usually , at such cons, I notice some things, but I’m too busy walking or looking at the next thing in the program or some such to catch a lot of little details in the cosplay. At a booth, I’m watching people to see if they might have any interest in my books, so I’m paying attention to stuff. Saw lots of cool, little touches.

I also saw some wonderful t-shirts and paying attention to them got me a number of opportunities to talk to people I would not have had otherwise. I got at least two sales simply because I engaged people with a reference many others might not have gotten.

I had a great time meeting people, of course. It was good to see a number of people like Doug Kempton, Jenna Tomlin, and Beth Moscato, who I don’t talk to enough. The highlight of this was meeting Samanta and Kyrstin Zuo Cai who I had met years ago. They’re the daughters of an old friend of mine, John Cook, who passed away four years ago. We had many a battle in our fantasy sports leagues. He should still be around so I can still kick his butt.

Anyway, I made some contacts that might prove fruitful. A couple of podcasts approached me about appearing on their shows, and I’m hoping that in the fall I can set that up, especially as Where Now the Rider is getting close to being done.

In general, lots of exciting stuff. I met a lot of cool people and learned a ton. Assuming they keep the price reasonable, I’ll go back to Planet Comicon every year. As I get a bigger name, I suspect I’ll do better each time. Honestly, if all I do is break even in the future it will be worth it. I’m sure I did get some new longtime customers. Plus, though exhausting, it was simply fun.

 

 

 

 

Catching Up

Today was a day for cleaning out my email, working on promotional stuff like my website, and planning on new conventions. Let’s see if I can remember everything I did:

  • Registered for World Fantasy Con in October.
  • Registered for WorldCon in August.
  • Registered on Goodreads as an author.
  • Updated my Amazon authors page.
  • Updated my website. More images and general coolness.
  • Made a new banner for the website.
  • Put a bunch of links to my wiki for the World of Shijuren.
  • Sent information to LibertyCon for two of my Authors Alley books.
  • Updated my WordPress blog site with some new images.
  • And, oh yeah, actually did a blog post.

Not a bad day’s work. Lots of important things taken care of.

My favorite, as you will find out, is the Shijuren wiki at http://www.robhowell.org/shijuren. Basically, this will ultimately be the entire repository of all my Shijuren world-building. There are only 170 or so entries right now, but I’m adding them consistently. There are also snippets of the novels you can find by searching “From the Books,” including snippets of I Am a Wondrous Thing, which will be released in June. So if you want to find sneak peaks, you can search for “IAAWT” for the pieces I’ve put up already. More is coming.

I keep learning things. Like I didn’t realize Goodreads was attached to Amazon, so I never made an author’s page there. I’m fixing that. I also learned that Amazon doesn’t necessarily link new works to an author’s page. Fixed that too.

I also added a few more images to my Amazon page and my official website. If you watch my Facebook page, you might very well have seen them already, but they’re some of my favorites of me. I also made a new banner image for the website and this blog, including one of the images I added. I think it’s pretty snazzy, if I do say so myself.

I should take this time to thank Patrick McEvoy. I keep finding new ways to use the cover art he did for A Lake Most Deep. He did a fantastic job, and I’m really liking what’s coming from it. I’ll be unveiling a new actual banner this weekend at Kansas City’s ComicCon that is also based on that artwork and I think it will look fantastic.

I’m clearing the decks because Kellie has given me the next edits of I Am a Wondrous Thing. I’ll be pounding away at getting that ready for publishing as soon as possible. I have to say, I really enjoy working with Kellie. She’s not only great at catching mistakes, but also places where I’ve not necessarily made a mistake, but could use strengthening. I can’t recommend her enough.

I’m also really excited about ComicCon this weekend, but I’ll talk about my excitement on a post later this week.

Now, I think it’s time for some lounging and thinking about how to execute all the directives Kellie gave me.

Cheers all