Tag Archives: Ad-Astra

WorldCon AAR

What a tiring week. WorldCon stretched from noon on Tuesday for dealer setup to Sunday evening. I’m ready for a beer. In this case, my last Nickelbrook Headstock from Pennsic.

I got to the South Dock at Bartle Hall on time. There really was no organization for checking in dealers, but I found my table easily. And setup was a dream. They provided pallets and forklifted the pallets by our tables. I was arranged and nested by 2pm.

The rest of Tuesday was helping Kate Paulk set up. We went running hither and you and back to hither. Then we organized the room just as Jonathan and Betsy Lightfoot joined us. I’d never met them before, but they’re a wonderful couple I enjoyed chatting with throughout the con. We then went to Jack Stack’s for food and soon dropped Kate back off because she was “stick-a-fork-in-her-done-done-done.”

As a side note, Jonathan has Rhodri as his RenFest stage name, which caused a double-take when I saw his badge 🙂

In general, I spent the entire con at my booth. I had one quick pass mostly to look at how other people were doing their booth to learn how I can improve mine. I saw a few things I can improve upon, mostly notably something I’d already seen and that’s the creation of a mailing list. I don’t know why I had not thought about this two years ago, but I didn’t. Better late than never. Expect to hear about that this week.

Overall sales were slow. I heard that from a number of vendors that it was much slower than they expected. I attribute my own slower than hoped for sales to two main factors. One, WorldCon consisted of a high percentage of people who flew to the event and did not want to carry books back. I should have anticipated this and expected to have higher e-book requests. I handed out a ton of bookmarks and I’ve already seen increased e-book numbers. I’ll know more in the next few weeks.

The second reason is the expense of the con. Depending upon when you bought entry, it was something like $200 to get in. I think that hurt sales for two reasons. One, it reduced the number of attendees. Two, it reduced the ready cash for the attendees. From a financial perspective, I doubt I’ll ever sell at WorldCon again, unless by some chance I’m living in the same city it is being held at again or someone else pays for it.

From a publicizing perspective, I think it was worth the $420 I spent for table and entry fee. I made a large number of connections concerning a variety of topics. I also think I got my name out to quite a few fans who may not have bought anything now, but will remember me. We’ll see. It’s hard to tell, of course.

Overall, I’m glad I went, even though I barely saw the con. I did one pass prior to opening with Nic on Saturday. I never had any energy after the day’s work at the booth to do much with the things scheduled afterwards. Because of that, I’ll leave it to others to discuss the events of the WorldCon. I really only can tell you about the vendors around me 🙂

I will say I wish they had been more welcoming of indie authors on panels. They rejected my application to be on panels, so I had no other responsibilities besides the booth. I suppose I can understand their hesitation if only because none of the decision makers had ever heard of me. However, organizers at other cons have not known who I was and given me a chance. I’m actually really good on panels because of my stage training and herald experience in the SCA. If we want to grow SF/F as a genre, that means supporting new authors. LibertyCon people understand this. Ad Astra people understand this. Many other cons understand this. It’s disappointing that WorldCon decided to reject my application completely. Seems short-sighted to me, as I’m sure there were others much like me that they did not use.

Nevertheless, I got my name out. Handed out a bunch of bookmarks. Met a lot of people. Sold a few books. Ran myself ragged. I’ll take it. Now for bed.

 

 

Ad-Astra AAR

When the only thing I didn’t like about Ad Astra was the printing snafu that messed up the locations on the mini-schedule attached to my badge, then it’s probably safe to say it was a successful con.

I was on 4 panels, went to a meet and greet, and had a reading. All of these were firsts for me, and generally went very well.

The first panel discussed the relationship between a self-publisher and their editor. This was probably the panel I contributed the most, because Kellie Hultgren has trained me well. We have worked out a good system, generally speaking, and I was able to discuss the things that have worked well for us. Beverly Bambury moderated the panel well, and I was joined by Charlotte Ashley, Jennifer Jaquith, and Ness Ricci-Thode. Jack Whyte, yes that Jack Whyte, complimented me afterwards, which was quite a thrill for me.

My second panel was not quite as smooth, and that panel talked about food and cuisine in speculative fiction. Why did it not go as smooth? I think it’s because all three of us hit our main talking points so well and quickly that, for the last 20 minutes or so, we floundered a bit looking for things to talk about. Mostly we repeated some of the things we had already said. Still, it went pretty well, just I think our panel of me, Costi Gorgu, and Erik Buchanon might have gotten boring and repetitive at the end.

My third panel covered books signings, festivals, and conventions. Basically the nuts and bolts of getting involved with these as a self-published author. I actually felt a little out of my depth here, as I don’t have a ton of experience. However, I do have experience as a moderator from academic conferences, so I claimed that role since the con did not assign that to any one person. My two co-presenters, Mark Lefebvre and Sarah WaterRaven, did a really good job and I definitely learned a number of things I’m looking forward to implementing.  I did a pretty good job of moderating. Were I to have been assigned the task ahead of time, I would have done a little better, nevertheless, we covered the topic well, filled the time, and flowed well. I’m pleased.

My fourth panel was on Sunday at 1pm, and it talked about marketing and publicity. I again felt a little out of my depth at first, but Beverly, who had moderated my first panel, did a real good job of steering things in my direction and I definitely contributed. I probably took things off the rails a bit as I talked about my wiki at www.robhowell.org/shijuren and my plans for it, but otherwise it went great. Especially since it was Sunday at 1pm and I was tired. Also on the panel were Sarah WaterRaven and MJ Moores who both gave me some nice ideas.

On Saturday, Sarah WaterRaven hosted a meet and greet of self-published authors. While the authors outnumbered the readers, I was still pleased with this event. I got to talk to a few people, sold a couple of books, and released a couple more in the drawing.

Finally, my last official involvement was on Sunday at 3pm for a reading. Four people showed up. More than I expected actually. Three other authors were there, Brandon Draga, Catherine Fitzsimmons, and Cameron Currie.

I’m not surprised that I can do a reading well, given my theater background, but I definitely need to get a better plan of attack. The part I chose to read was the part where Edward enters the Gropa Mansion in the end of A Lake Most Deep and the start of the final Agatha Christie-style get all the possible suspects together and reveal the villain scene. I like my choice in many ways, but it was a little long for me to get the most impact. However, I have a much better idea of how long it takes me to read a chunk. I’ll do better next time.

I did some other socializing in the Green Room, and a little in the Con Suite, but not much. I came down with a cold on Thursday, and I dinged my foot at Ard Chreag fighter practice on Monday, so I was pushing hard to bring the energy to my panels. I need to work on my stamina in general, but also to get full value out of my convention appearances, especially if I’m not at my best.

I need to also do a better job of planning how to sell my books at conventions. Basically, I just need to get my ducks in a row and know the plan. What are the con rules? The laws of the location? That sort of thing. Then, I need to make sure I actually mention my books are on sale when it is appropriate. I’m not good at that. I would have sold many more had I had a better plan.

I also need to make bookmarks with www.amazon.ca QR codes for Canadian conventions.

Still, it was a productive con for me. I handed out a bunch of business cards and met a lot of people. Also, I’m learning that my approach to this profession is correct, even if I haven’t sold a ton yet. I’ll be an overnight success after some years of working at this.

Thanks to Pasi Paltanen for suggesting I come up. I hope I can afford to do so next year. Also, thanks to Gary Russell and Brad Hruboska for being my extra-special cheering section on Saturday.

My next con appearance is Kansas City Planet ComicCon. I’m really excited to see how this goes, but I’ll forever get to say I’m a guest at the same con as Stan Lee, George Takei, Alan Tudyk, and Kevin Smith. And a whole bunch of others.

If you’re in the KC area, it’ll be worth your while to come. I’ll be in the Creative Alley area with books for sale. Come join me.

Catching Up

Lots of stuff happening around here.

First, I just published a second edition of A Lake Most Deep. If you bought the first edition in ebook form, then you can speak to Amazon at:
http://www.amazon.com/clicktocall or
http://www.amazon.com/clicktochat
You just need to ask for the updated content and they’ll send it to you for free.

Second, the draft for the first book of The Kreisens, book 3 in Shijuren, was sent off to the editor last week. I’m hoping for a release date around 1 June.

Third, there’s progress on the audiobook front. I’m hoping for September for A Lake Most Deep. I will probably do a Kickstarter in May for that project.

Fourth, I’m on the road in Canada right now. I had a wonderful time at the coronation of Nigel and Adrielle. Talked to a bunch of old friends, made some new ones, and promoted the next edition of A Lake Most Deep as well as showed off The Eyes of a Doll. A fun and useful day.

I’m headed to Ad-Astra this upcoming weekend, so if you’re in the Toronto area come join us. I’m in four panels, plus a reading. They are:

Friday 7pm Richmond B
The Relationship Between a Self-Publisher and Their Editor
Vanessa Ricci-Thode,Jennifer Jaquith, Beverly Bambury, Charlotte Ashley, Rob Howell

Friday 9pm Richmond A
Food Drink and Cuisine in Speculative Fiction
Costi Gurgu, Erik Buchanan, Rob Howell

Saturday 4pm Markham A
Book Signings Conventions and Festivals: Navigating Opportunity as a Self-Published Author
Sarah WaterRaven, Rob Howell, Mark Lefebvre

Sunday 1pm Markham B
Marketing and Promoting Your Self-Published Novel
MJ Moores, Sarah WaterRaven, Beverly Bambury, Rob Howell

Sunday 3pm Oakridge
Fantasy Reading
Brandon Draga, Cameron Currie, Rob Howell, Catherine Fitzsimmons

Exciting times.

Random Musings

  • I’m learning so much about how to write each day. I’m editing A Lake Most Deep for the second edition release and I shake my head at the progress I’ve made.
  • Many thanks to Kellie for taking the time to tell me why something is right or wrong, helping me make fewer mistakes, write better, and also find times to break the rules for effect, not ignorance
  • A Lake Most Deep, v2.0 will be a vast improvement but won’t seriously change anything, for those who’ve read it before. It’s mostly better formatting and a better working relationship with my editor. Beth, who edited it the first time, did a fine job, but I still do not really know her. I’ve known Kellie for years and that is a great help to me. Much more collaborative.
  • I’m facing some technical challenges to the big thing I want to announce, so it is delayed, but still coming. I want it to be right before putting it out there.
  • I’ve not liked the NBA for a long time. Frankly, it’s boring basketball, and I’ve long since enjoyed soccer so much more than basketball because it’s more exciting in general. Steph Curry is changing that for me. He might very well be the most skillful basketball player ever. Not the most dominant, that is Wilt Chamberlain, but the most skillful. He has changed the game in a way we’ll only fully understand in retrospect.
  • All that being said about basketball, the one and done format of March Madness, especially on opening weekend, is truly one of the best things ever.
  • I really hope Ron Baker and Fred van Vleet have one more great run in them. Obviously I mean that because I’m a Wichita State fan, but also because I think they’re great kids.
  • I am looking forward to Gulf Wars, and in some ways I’m more excited than I have been in several years. However, it’s becoming more and more an afterthought to…
  • Ealdormere Coronation and Ad-Astra. I’ll be on panels at Ad-Astra, with maybe a reading. That all is a huge step up for me. I’m also going to swing by my grandparents house in Teeswater, which is fairly close to Underwood and Coronation. I’m also contemplating doing something stupid, and going around the Great Lakes. I know it’s much longer, but there’s so much to see.
  • The NFL draft talk is approaching. People keep talking about what Dallas should do, so I will too. Dallas should trade pick 4 for something like pick 8-10 in 2016 plus a 1st in 2017 and some others. The draft chart numbers work for this. The question is whether the Cowboys should take a QB (my preference is Carson Wentz) as a successor to Romo or get better players to surround him. This way you get better players *and* put the Cowboys in position to get a successor next year.
  • Rob’s rule of thumb when trading high picks. Always trade down. More picks means a better chance to get a productive player.

Off to go through a car wash on a lovely day.

Where Now the Rider

Well, I’ve been puttering away with several projects and things are going well.

Some convention announcements and reminders. I’ll be going to Gulf Wars in a few weeks and will have books for sale and autograph at Calontir Trim. Swing on by. Also, I’ll be at Ad-Astra at the end of April. I’ll be serving on panels for the first time there, and will probably have a reading as well. Also exciting is a creator table at KC Planet Comicon. Come see Stan Lee and Alan Tudyk, and then buy my books. Exciting stuff.

Speaking of books, my editor is working on two projects for me, so while she’s doing that I’ve started the third Edward book, which I’m entitling Where Now the Rider. Let’s just say that Andreyev, Gibroz’s lieutenant, is not the only criminal interested in horseracing.

I’ve also been working on a major thing in the background. Next week, I hope to announce what I’m doing. Hopefully, it will make both reading  and writing my books easier.

More to come soon. c