Tuesday, April 28, 2009
This last weekend Robin and I attended the three-day long speculative fiction convention in Richmond, VA, otherwise known as RavenCon. I realize that there are a few of you out there now who have read both The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha and would prefer I was chained to my keyboard, or had my legs broken by Kathy Bates, insuring I do nothing but finish book three. I’d rather like that too, well not the broken legs or chains, but the time to write. For the last few weeks, I have had preciously little time in that area. I am reminded by those who promote me (namely Robin) that it is just as important (perhaps more so) that I cultivate an audience for the books I already have published. So while I was just getting on a roll and making great headway on Nyphron Rising, I stopped, packed up the car and headed down to Richmond.
Until I started promoting my first book, I had no idea what a fan convention was, now I discover there are dozens. Most of them are the same thing held at different times of the year in different locations, many of them close to each other, so that the same people appear at each. Some are older, some are larger, but they all appear to be the same idea. Writers and artists of reasonable note are guests who give talks, readings or serve on panels discussing topics of interest to the fandom. There are an assortment of activities such as movies, shows and bands; a gaming room where those interested in table top games converge, an art room and the dealer’s room.
I was in the dealer’s room, a large hall in the hotel filled with vendors selling everything from board games and dice, to medieval clothing hand-sewn from hand woven cloth. There’s always a handful of not so famous authors who use the venue to introduce their books to an audience of genre fans. I was one of those and spent three days behind a little table stacked with my books. Yet even in such a richly targeted environment, it isn’t easy to convince people that a book you wrote is worth buying.
I discovered early on that the bar of expectations for authors in the dealer room isn’t set very high when a woman purchased The Crown Conspiracy. I asked what it was that sold her on it and she replied, “I read the first page and there wasn’t a single misspelled word!” It wasn’t exactly the kind of vindication I was looking for, but it got her to buy it, and more importantly to read it.
If you’ve been following this blog you know that I went to MarsCon back in January, and to my delight several people who visited it came to RavenCon. I knew who they were instantly—they were the ones who walked directly up to my table, picked up Avempartha and said, “Sign it. I loved the last one.” Better than this, as I had hoped, a few people bought Crown saying a friend had bought it at MarsCon and raved about it. Despite this, there were no lines waiting feverishly for me to sign their copy, and we sold only a handful more than at the last Con making us wonder if attending these cons is worth the effort. I am signed up for at least one more “ConCarolinas” in Charlotte NC at the end of this month (May,) I will have to see what transpires there before making a decision.