Publishing Events: To Conference or Not to Conference

To Conference or Not to Conference?

That’s one of the big questions I’ve answered for my multi-media, epublishing-centered empire in 2013.

My answer is based on the very fact that my empire, as a Bestselling Indie Epublished Author, is a multi-media one, centered on an e-commerce model.

What that means is that my readers and fans are online each and every day. That’s where I connect with them, hang with them and find new ones too.

The majority of today’s conferences, whether writer-based (Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Novelists Inc, small regional and/or genre-specific conferences, etc.) or a writer-reader combination (Romantic Times) are still heavily-weighted to Traditional, Print Publishing. Even those that pay lip service to Indie Epublished Authors end up doing very little, if anything come conference time to support that path. I will say that Romantic Times (RT) is a bunch more Indie Epublishing-friendly than all of the rest combined.

I’ve been there done that. I’ve spent over $50,000 during the last five years alone doing the conference circuit – including airfare, gas, hotel, conference registration fees, food, treats/tchotchkes for readers and fellow writers, etc.

It wasn’t until I stayed home last year, wrote my ass off and spent all of my free time connecting with readers online that I’ve seen my empire flourish.

That’s not to say that based on where you’re at in your publishing journey that a writer’s conference might not be fantastic for you. For example, if you’re still learning the writing craft itself, there are often fabulous classes you can take at writer’s conferences.

But, honestly, other than that, or perhaps if you just need some quality time (at the bar or otherwise) with fellow writers, conferences cost a ton of money with little, if any, measurable impact on your writing-for-publication journey.

I’ll go so far as to say that many times, I’ve actually felt more depressed and even more hopeless about my writing-for-publication prospects after going to these conferences. In fact, if I hadn’t been determined to “prove ‘em all wrong,” I would have flat-out quit after some of my horrifying experiences. Yes, there were wonderful moments too. But yeah…the bad outweighed the good – 10 to 1.

That said, two conferences that are totally on my Must-Go-To List for 2014 are Digital Book World’s Annual Conference and Expo (DBW) in January in NYC and Book Expo America (BEA) also in NYC in end of May/first of June.

I know…I know…I just said that writer’s conferences are a NO for me.

But that’s precisely why DBW and BEA are YES’s for me! They aren’t writer’s conferences at all! They’re publishing industry insider and techno peep conferences. Simply put, if you want to meet the big wigs at Amazon, Nook, Kobo, Sony, iTunes, as well as several of the leading experts on e-commerce and the gazillion of tech-savy start-up gurus who are changing our online adventures and capabilities every day…these two conferences are how you do that! :-)

***Note: DBW also has a wonderful Discoverability and Marketing Conference in NYC each year too (September). I’ll also be going to that one! They also are involved in the Story World Conference, which is in LA in or around October. You can check out DBW’s conferences here:

http://www.digitalbookworld.com/conferences/

I read DBW every day and learn a ton there! The WG2E’s own Bob Mayer also blogs for them! They’re all about all-things-epublishing, and that’s what we need to know to build our own multi-media empires.

When it comes to BEA, Amazon and other platforms, like Audible’s ACX, have Indie Epublished Authors working their booths! How cool is that?!

Film and TV executives and their stars also attend these conferences, looking for or working for their next book to small and large-screen project! :-) So, you never know who you might run into or who you could arrange ahead of time to meet.

See the difference in these kinds of conferences?

It’s a HUGE difference!

But there’s no right or wrong answer on what you decide to do except for what’s right or wrong for where you’re at in your Epublishing career.

One of my goals is to hang with my readers and attract new readers every day – I do that online.

My other goal is to continue to build my multi-media empire in new and bigger ways. I can do that online to a degree, but getting some face-time with industry insiders and power players will help achieve that goal faster.

What do y’all think when it comes to what’s right for your empires? To Conference or Not to Conference?

The Best of Building Empire Wishes — D. D. Scott

D. D. Scott is an Amazon and Barnes and Noble Top 100 Bestselling Romantic Comedy and Humorous Mystery Author. She’s also a Writer’s Go-To-Gal for Muse Therapy and Indie Epublishing, the Co-Founder of The WG2E- The Writer’s Guide to E-Publishing, and the Founder of The RG2E – The Reader’s Guide to E-publishing.  You can get all the scoop on her, her books, her Online Classes and Live Workshops, plus juicy tidbits too from her new cyber home…D. D. Scott-ville.

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Comments

  1. Jeanne says:

    Sounds as though you have another busy year with lots of new adventures included!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I’ll be “staying home” in 2013 again, Jeanne. Gotta get the DH new knees.

      But we’re looking forward to all of these techno-side conferences in 2014.

  2. Hi D.D. – very informative post, thank you! I was looking at DBW. Price for annual membership is $99. Are you a member or do you just go to conferences? Is it worth the membership?

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I am a member, Terra. I do think you get discounts on the conference fees as a member, and you have access to lots of video content from all kinds of sources. Other than that, I haven’t noticed much benefit for the $99.

  3. Diana Layne says:

    Hi, DD, enjoyed the tips. I’m introverted to the point of reclusive; however, my novel The Good Daughter is up for an RT Book Reviews Reviewer’s Choice award so I’ve been toying with the idea of going to RT this year. IDK, though, I wouldn’t do the whole social events, the balls and parties etc and I’m not really interested in the craft workshops plus I have two kids I’d have to drag along, so I think ‘toying with the idea’ is all I’ll be doing. I didn’t realize writers could attend industry conferences, though, that’s useful info, thanks.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Congrats on your RT Reviewer’s Choice nomination! That’s fantastic, Diana! Now that would make me go, and of all of the writer’s conferences, this one, imho, is the best because it is centered on readers every bit as much as writers. It’s thrilling to see the excitement readers have for their fave authors and books.

      RT usually has an Epublished Event too in which Ereading fans can meet and greet their fave authors and get fab treats/tchotchkes from them. When I went, prior to being published, it was a two-hour wait just to get in the door to that event. I stood in line with a group of…wait for it…librarians who were already huge Ereaders!!!

  4. V.S.Nelson says:

    Loved this post as it coinsided with a conversation I recently had with a few other authors. When asked, “what conferences will you be attending this year?” I was dumb founded. I will admit after the conversation I am planning on attending two but neither are you typical writers conference. I’ll be attending Arizona Dreamin – which is actually a readers event and a great place to meet new fans and sell your indie published romance books and the RNC conference in Vegas which is a combination of readers and writers get-to-gether which Jimmy Thomas, the model who is on two of my covers is hosting. (I’m also getting married at the conference so I have another reason for going.) I’m looking forward to learning more about Story World which is just a hop, skip and jump away from Arizona (no airline bill so I can drive). Thanks so much for posting this.

  5. Adan Lerma says:

    great info and ideas, thanks so much for sharing d.d., and for the links ;-) best wishes ;-)

  6. Tamara Ward says:

    Hi, D.D. Thanks for the great post! For me, it’s to conference in moderation. I enjoy conferences that aren’t about writing, like the Writer’s Police Academy, where writers get to talk to officers and actually get their hands on real equipment. It’s a lot of fun, extremely educational in a practical sense, and I’ve met some writers who have become friends during the conference.

  7. Julie Day says:

    I tend to go to conferences for two reasons: 1 to learn more about writing, and esp indie authors and 2 to network and get my card out there. This year I want to go to something new, and not the two conferences I normally go to each year. Depends on how easy it is for me to get there. Like you, now that I am an indie author self-publishing ebooks, I am more interested in hearing about this.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      What’s so important about what you’ve said, Julie, is that you know what you want out of each conference you go to. As long as any particular conference can meet your individual career goals – go for it!!!

  8. Joe Bruno says:

    I attended my first two writers’ conferences in 1982. I attended my last two writer’s conferences in 1982.

    Get the picture?

    One of the man reasons to go to writer’s conferences is to meet agents and publishers. Indie writers don’t no stinkin’ agents and publishers.

    Save your money and spend it on quality time with your family. And write, write and write.

    Works for me.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I do get the picture, Joe, and thanks bunches for sharing with us! :-)

      You’re sooo right in that it’s totally not about sweating it out before pitch appointments with various agents and publishers. Thank the powers that be!!! LOL!!!

  9. Okay…
    Although I lack a uterus, I am sitting in my kitchen drinking my coffee, just like DD. (smirk).

    When I wake up I hit five websites every morning- one for the news and the other four for my new career as an author/editor/indie publishing business owner. They’re all great sites, and combined with my email alerts I get a daily dose of ed-u-mick-a-shun that I need.

    The first on my list is this blog, DD.

    I had NO IDEA DBW existed, and now my morning dose is max’d out at six. I can not afford any more time than those sites. Anyone doing a start up knows what I mean.

    We (KD McLean and I) have five manuscripts in the can, one up at the Zon, and are doing the re-writes. Nooo… not gonna flog titles here. Are days are filled with re-write (and that should be the first priority for us as new authors), promotion, and skill learning. Thank god we’re semi-retired, because the days are long enough.

    I have learned sooo much from your sites DD. Thank you for doing what you do!

    Desmond

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I’m thrilled to hear that The WG2E is one of your six stops each morning, Desmond, and that you’re learning along with all of us! :-)

      You will also learn bunches from DBW!!!

      Cheers to you and your morning coffee!!!

  10. Lois Lavrisa says:

    DD- I also spent about as much as you the first few years I began my writing journey (in 2005) and although I always ended up with several full manuscript requests after several pitches, And was over the moon excited, I soon got the slump waiting forever for responses (many never arrived). So I agree with you- “I’ll go so far as to say that many times, I’ve actually felt more depressed and even more hopeless about my writing-for-publication prospects after going to these conferences.” Now I spend my time writing, and meeting twice a month with my local writers’ group, and very occasionally ( a handful of times a year) travel to an out of state writers workshop. As long it is driving distance (no airfare and usually therefore can make it there and back in one day so no hotel costs ) and has topics/subject/info I can use to benefit my career : ) I will grab some writer friends load up the car and go. That means usally Jacksonville Florida or Charleston SC. Although I will spend my money and time on my annual writers’ retreat- a week or so out of town where a group of us get together and write all day and night. Okay we do have loads of fun too and break for wine and chat time in the evening – but we spend a great deal of time writing. That is worth it for me:)

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I’ll never forget, Lois, the first national RWA Conference my DH attended with me. Mind you, he’s been in law enforcement for over 30 years, and has seen the worst part of the human experience almost each and every day. I was SHOCKED when he asked me at lunch the very first day – “THIS is what you’re trying to fit into?! These people (meaning most of the agents, editors and other pub professionals) are mean, arrogant and just plain rude! And this business model sucks!”

      Funny…I’m the one with the psychology and political science degree, and years in human resources, and I had to hear that from him to finally believe my own impressions. That really was a turning point for me.

      If someone totally unfamiliar with the publishing world, and a guy who sees and deals with the crappiest people around…if he’s offended…this was not a world I needed to be trying so hard to be part of.

      Not that I didn’t know that already…but, at the time, that was the only way, so, I’m embarrassed to say, I played the game for several years.

  11. I’m totally feeling this post. This year, the only conference I’m going to is a $60 local conference that always renews my writing energy, but I’m at a stage right now where I would be better served carving out a few days to work my butt off instead of hanging out a conference (though conferences are a lot of fun).

    I attended my first conference in 2005. I continue to follow the careers of the agents and editors I’ve met, because you never know, right? About 80% of them are now out of the business.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      “Feeling this post” is what I was hoping y’all would do, Diana! Writing it was rather cathartic, I must say! LOL!!!

      Knowing what serves you best at each stage of your career is key. Go, Girl, Go!!!

  12. I attend the WG2E conference every day and my writers guild once a month. Works for me!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Luuuvvv it, Nancy!!! I’m sooo thrilled to have created the kind of loving-kind and straight-shooting, information treasure chest that is The WG2E!

      Thanks sooo much for the sweet shout-out!!!

  13. When I first started out (and lived in the Northeast, so travel distance to conferences was usually shorter), I went to Malice Domestic twice and the New England Crime Bake five times. I learned a lot and met many writers in person. I also had a lot of fun.

    A couple of years ago, I came to the same conclusion as you did, DD. Conferences, with airfare and hotel bills, are very expensive. Since I was working a full time job as well, they also used up one of my two vacation weeks each year. Once you’ve been through the agent pitch sessions, the panels that are mostly other authors promoting their books, and have gotten past the basics in your career, I think your time and money is better spent on building an online presence and writing.

    Now I would rather attend a workshop where I’m actively working on my craft. I’m looking into that for later in 2013. I may attend one conference myself this year, but it won’t involve airfare or a day for travel in each direction. And I will be attending the Tucson Festival of Books (a great, free event!), but this will mostly be to promote the fledgling Tucson chapter of Sisters in Crime.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      What you said here, Elise:

      “Once you’ve…gotten past the basics in your career, I think your time and money is better spent on building an online presence and writing.”

      Cheers to that!!!

  14. I’m another one who’s feeling this post. I’ve never truly enjoyed the writers’ conference experience (maybe a tad ironic since I chaired three in a row for my own RWA chapter…LOL). In person, I’m shy, awkward, a bit of an introvert. I have trouble focusing during workshops, I usually leave with a half-ass headache thanks to the microphone feedback, and not only do I forget most everything I’ve learned by the time I head home, I have never once looked back over the notes I’ve taken. But I do enjoy the down time in the evening, sitting around chatting with friends I only get to see that one time a year. I just wish there was a cheaper way to socialize. *grin*

    I’ve always been curious about BEA, but thought it was only for trad pubbed authors. Plus it seems to fall around the same time as my local chapter’s conference. Hopefully, one of these days I’ll make it out that way. Thanks for a great post, DD. :-)

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Cheers again to “feeling this post,” Donna!

      I’m dying to organize and produce a conference that, for the first time I know of, would fill writers with hope and all of the tools they need to publish on their own and find their audience. BUT…I think I’m going to do it by live stream so that all of us can sit in our jammies and watch and participate from home for very little cost if not for FREE. I’ve got some ideas…just waiting on technology to catch up with me. :-)

      Maybe one of these days…

      Many writers ask me about going to all of the big “writer’s conferences,” and I never hesitate now to tell ‘em NO. Stay home, read everything you can online about publishing, watch conference videos (either FREE on YouTube or for a fee that’s still a huge savings from attending) and just write.

      And now, with all of our social media platforms, I don’t feel like I’m missing the authors/writers I’ve met at conferences because we connect every day online!!!

  15. Angela Brown says:

    Ref: One of my goals is to hang with my readers and attract new readers every day

    That is what I really want to accomplish. I want to figure out the best way to grow my reader base and attract new readers who will be interested in purchasing my stories. So going to conferences completely focused on the writing angle isn’t my goal, although improving my craft isn’t out of line-of-sight :-)

    I’d personally prefer growing my reader base online but I certainly wouldn’t mind attending a conference or two that’s reader-centric to connect more with readers. The BEA is one I’d love to work on attending for next year myself. I wonder if there would be a a way to have a group of Indies work together to have a table or something at the BEA? Hmmmm….

    • D.D. Scott says:

      I believe BEA has a special session the day before, which of course is extra money (LOL!) for Indie/Self-Publishing and Epublishing in general, Angela.

      If you’re wanting to focus on finding readers then I would definitely suggest Romantic Times Booklovers’ Convention (RT). Here’s their website:

      http://www.rtconvention.com/

  16. Alison Pensy says:

    I’m going to my very first conference this year and it’s in your neck of the woods, D.D. Maybe I’ll pop round for a cuppa :-) UtopYAcon in Nashville, TN. It’s within driving distance for me (albeit a long drive) and the VIP ticket for the 3 days was only $83.

    I’ve wanted to go to one for ages just for the experience really, but the bigger ones have always been cost prohibitive. When I heard about this one I thought I would give it a go. I’m not going with any expectations other than to rubs shoulders with some other authors, preferably over a glass of wine at the bar at the end of the day :-)

    • D.D. Scott says:

      You’ll luuuvvv Nashville, Alison! We’ll be moving there soon after my DH gets his new knees and is mobile again! :-)

      Small, regional conferences are a wonderful way to get the overall conference experience at a fraction of the cost.

      Let me know after your trip, and I’ll have you do a Guest Post on your experiences!

  17. I don’t do conferences. I went to a few several years ago and got nothing much useful out of them. At one, I paid $20.00 for the priviledge of wasting 15 minutes trying to pitch an agent. Won’t make that mistake again. The featured authors don’t tell me much of anything I don’t already know. So, I stay home.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Words of wisdom for sure, Richard! Thanks for sharing!!!

      Biggest waste of time I’ve ever spent is fretting over various pitch appointments. That said, learning how to present your story in pitch-style formats (of various lengths) is a must-learn skill for creating reader-attractive book descriptions for each of your uploaded books.

  18. SK Holmesley says:

    This is such an informative post. Thanks so much DD for sharing.

    I tend not to go to conferences, but my daughter-in-law, who writes epic fantasy, does go to ComiCon type conferences when they’re in Florida. They’re going anyway, and are considering taking the opportunity to drop “business cards” (i.e., info on the books) in everyone’s swag bag. Since they’re going anyway, and that’s where her audience is, the only additional cost would be the cards. My son has mentioned DBW recently, though, so your info is very timely.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Fabulous point to bring up, SK…definitely take tons of business cards with you and leave them everywhere (I even leave them on tables in restaurants and write a nice note to the server on the back thanking them for great service and letting ‘em know their first D. D. Scott book is free, on me.) And, of course, always leave them in the Goodies Room.

      Also, here’s a tip too…

      You’ll have tons of drawings to enter with your name, email address, and so forth. Many times there’s no room or place to just drop your business card in. So, prepare a few sheets of address labels, peel one off and stick it to the sign-up sheet. Also great for signing up for peep’s blogs and sites.

  19. Seeley James says:

    Timely post, DD. I’ve been arguing with my publicist about that very topic. She thinks I won’t be respected if I don’t go to Thrillerfest and other fan-conventions. I’d not given consideration to DBW, thanks for bringing that up.

    I’m looking for readers, are there good readerfests?

    Peace, Seeley

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Respect doesn’t sell books, Seeley, as much as genuinely connecting with fans and new readers alike then having great books to share with them. Readers aren’t looking on Amazon, Nook, and so on to buy only those authors who’ve attended Thrillerfest or any conference, right? Most readers don’t know and don’t care about any of these conferences.

      That’s like putting on a book cover that the book was a Golden Heart Winner. Not that that award isn’t very special and worth celebrating. BUT…it’s something to celebrate and is understood by fellow romance writers only. Again…it’s nothing that sells books or convinces readers to buy a book. Ask a dozen readers, and most won’t even know what that is…or care.

      I’d luuuvvv to hear – perhaps you’d like to write a post on it here at The WG2E – what all your publicist does for you. Another great topic and an ever-changing role in our current Epublishing environment.

  20. Joe Bruno says:

    Seeley, I don’t need no stinkin’ publicist either.

    When I was a sportswriter in NY City (late 70′s to early 90′s), I dealt with them often;almost every day . Scores of them. For every sport and every athlete. George Steinbrenner’s hack was the worst. You’d think George was St. George.

    They’re all the masters of exaggerations and half truths. And worse, they want to get paid.

    Used car dealers have more scruples.

    But publicists are only lying when they have their mouths open.

    I’ll give them that.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      My DH and I met with a HUGE publicist at RWA 2010…let’s just say she’s the one who gets many authors on the Today Show and the one who worked with Kelly Ripa for all of her guest authors and promoted books. So yeah, big time publicist.

      She took a meeting with us privately and started by telling us that many people mortgage their house to pay for her services…totally not kidding…that’s what she said…and she was not kidding either.

      She told us to get back with her if we wanted to do that or if I got a huge Big Six Deal.

      Also, she said she really liked my writing and was friends with the Chief Acquiring Editor of one of the Big Six Houses and did get my manuscript straight to her desk. She told me if her friend signed me to then call her and we’d talk about representation and more pricing packages.

      I did get a nice letter back from said Editor who said the standard “she loved my book” but there was nothing she could do with it in this tight market.

      • D.D. Scott says:

        Btw, I made that connection on my own…without my agent. But wow am I glad we chose not to mortgage our house and to make me my own publicist too! :-)

      • Joe Bruno says:

        D.D. I can’t beleive the publicity agent said people mortgage their houses to hire her (Well, maybe those people lived in four-wides.)

        That’s a bigger condemnation of publicity agents than I could ever conjure. You would think she would be ashamed to say something like that.

        Oh well. I guess it’s par for the course in the business.

        Good thing publicists, like agents and some publishing houses, are becoming almost obsolete.

        Worse things could happen.

        Best advice for Indie writers — write, write, and write. Then write some more.

        Self-pubish and don’t throw your money away on literary dinosaurs.

      • If a publicist suggested that in Massachusetts and then didn’t deliver, you could go after her for triple damages for deceptive business practices. Sheesh! NOBODY should ever mortgage their house on a shaky bet!

  21. Victoria Noe says:

    The key is to go to a conference for a reason.

    The first two Writers Digest Conferences I attended were to pitch agents and just soak up as much as I could about publishing in general. Made lots of great friends and contacts.

    Went to BEA’s self-publishing day twice and I do not recommend it. Their focus is to help you self-publish so you can attract an agent and publisher. It’s definitely not for anyone who just wants to self-publish.

    The Writers Digest Conference in LA last fall was great, because the workshops and presenters were relevant to where I am now.

    This year I’m going to the Tools of Change Author (R)evolution Day for the same reason. I’ll go to Writers Digest, but not to pitch. This year I’ll go to the full Book Expo, because I’m reviewing books on BroadwayWorld.com.

    An aside: I write nonfiction, on the topic of grieving the death of a friend. I went to one hospice/death education conference 2 years ago to get the lay of the land. Found out I was not intimidated by academics, but decided not to go back until I could be a presenter. Last year I was a presenter. This year I’m going as an exhibitor to sell mybooks.

    I went to AWP last year, too, but it was way too academic for me, and I found that aside from some okay networking, I learned little. Sometimes you have to learn those lessons yourself.

    Porter Anderson keeps a great list of upcoming conferences on his Writing on the Ether column for Jane Friedman. Highly recommend it.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      You’re right, Victoria…it’s all about going to a conference for your own reasons. As long as you get out of it what you want, it’s worth the time and money FOR YOU. And that great reason for you may not be great for someone else.

      I’ve met Jane and many of The Writers Digest peeps at various conferences and used to follow her blog.

  22. The last two years I’ve attended some local conferences. Then I decided to e-publish and was trying to decide if I should attend any conferences or not. Your post sums up exactly what I was thinking. I think I’m going to spend the money I’d use for a conference for editing. I think it’ll have a much higher payoff.

    • D.D. Scott says:

      Excellent trade-off, Lara! Great editing will sell a bunch of books and bring readers back for more – both of which aren’t accomplished at most conferences.

  23. Interesting timing! I just got in all bleary-eyed from lack of sleep from the ARISIA Science Fiction & Fantasy Conference in Boston. I sat on 8 panels (one I moderated), did an author signing, and rented a booth. This is a fan-fun/fan centered conference attended by 5,800 people in my genre. My sales were abysmal! Everyone loved my ‘Self Publishing 101′ panel I moderated on ‘how to do the thing’ but only one of those people sought me out afterwards and bought my book. The other sales were all other authors being supportive (we bought each others books). My expectations were modest going into it, but honestly I expected more genuine non-author sales.

    I go to this conference anyways, so I will keep going and doing panels, but I had been toying with the idea of doing the ‘conference circuit’ as other authors are doing there (all traditionally published) and I noticed at the author signings we sat in on together that -they- didn’t seem to be making a lot of sales there, either.

    I’m frustrated at all sides right now! I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall!

    • D.D. Scott says:

      That’s one of the things I’ve noticed at most conferences too, Anna…it’s primarily author to author, not author to reader. Even at reader-centered conferences, it’s tough to make actual sales. Yes, those peeps might go home and buy you or at least put you on their TBR List, but they’re just not great places to sell a bunch of books.

      No need to bang your head, my friend. Just keep on doing what you do best…write great books and more of them and find your readers online in all of your social media circles!

      • You always cheer me up, D.D.!

        One group of authors that I noticed -did- seem to be talking to readers more about their actual books, handing out postcard/bookmarks, and making sales was a regional collaborative called ‘Broad Universe.’ They came in as a block of writers, poets, comic writers, craftsmen and artists and not only rented a square of booths together in the dealers room to sell their wares, but also coordinated open readings of excerpts of their works, held back-to-back coordinated book launch parties after-hours in their rooms (which were again shared and rented as a block), who manned the booth (2-hour rotations), and how the wares were displayed (the steampunk books were on a wall display amongst corsets and feathery hats, the post-apocalyptic books amongst some leatherware, etc.). It only reinforced my belief that the authors who make it in this new publishing reality are going to be the ones who band together.

        I experimented a tiny bit with this myself. The Girl Scout cookie lady was standing in the corner selling cookies, so for my 4-hour Artists Alley stint I invited her to sit at the booth I had rented to display her cookies. I didn’t get more physical sales, but a lot more people lingered to talk to me about my book and took my postcards with book information than when I had sat at the booth alone a few days before. I’m curious to see if I get a spike in ebook sales.

        I also decided to wear my fantasy costume to my actual book signing as that was what the Broad Universe authors were doing (I went dressed as She-who-is, a character from my series). I got more people who wanted to photograph my costume than bought my book, but at least most of them lingered to ask about my book and took postcards afterwards. Will I get sales from them later? Who knows? All my book sales that day were to men, though … LOL!!! There’s something about a steampunk leather corset and fairy wings that just appeals to male readers :-) I do think, however, based on my collective observations (Broad Universe + girl scout cookies + genre costume) that conventions are kind of like Pinterest. You need the bling to catch reader interest before they will talk to you about your book.

        Anybody else had this observation?

        • D.D. Scott says:

          You nailed it, my friend:

          “…conventions are kind of like Pinterest. You need the bling to catch reader interest before they will talk to you about your book.”

          To stand-out at a convention or conference, you have to do just that…stand-out! Luuuvvv your costume choice! Luuuvvv the partnering with the cookie peeps! Luuuvvv your line of thinking. U, Go, Girl!!!

          You’ve got to have that somethin’ somethin’ that the rest of ‘em ain’t got! :-) So, you must have the tallest, biggest, most LOL, extraordinary, weird, different attraction there to get peeps to even stop and check you out at all!!!

          One year – RT10 – I was really pimping out my Muse Therapy Online Classes, and I was teaching a live Muse Therapy Class at the conference. So, I rented space in the Promo Alley and bought a fabulous mini pink velvet couch…when you think of “therapy,” you think of sittin’ on a couch, right?! Sooo many peeps at least stopped by the table and signed up for more info. I also gave away a chocolate martini set…and who doesn’t need a glass or two before, during and after “therapy”?!

          ‘Course the couch got stolen so it ended up costing me double by the time I replaced it for the next conference. But it was definitely a great buzz builder! :-)

          • A pink velvet mini couch? And a drawing for a chocolate martini set? Sounds fabulous! If nothing else, if you could get people’s email addresses and give them a card with your book links on it, it’s money well spent (even WITH the stolen couch). I’m saving those ideas for future reference!

            As for ‘standing out,’ I was at a scifi/fantasy conference. It’s pretty hard to stand out there between the klingons, superheroes, post-apocalyptic and military-scifi folk, fantasy characters, and then of course all the steampunk, which is the hottest thing going at these conferences. But … I did. I must have had 40 different people stop me and ask to photograph my costume, two of them photographers for anime magazines. My costume was nice, but some of the steampunk costumes were breathtaking.

            Your thoughts have already sparked off ideas! I went to AliExpress.com and discovered I can order black, white, red or pink angel wings for $12/pair directly from China (I write about fallen angels) including shipping. They were selling for $30/apiece at the con at other booths. My character has a sword and I study martial arts. Before I go to the next con I will order a sword like my character has and display it on my booth (can’t sell it in Massachusetts … is against the law). The fairy costume is a minor character … but perhaps next year I will go as Supreme Commander-General Joffiel, who wears a more modern-type military uniform to man the booth (also less drafty … the fairy costume is not something I’d otherwise wear in New England in January!). Now … hmmm … what would be a theme-related raffle? That I could also stump in the panels I participate in? That are tempting enough to get people over their reluctance to give out their email addresses?

            I’ll be going next year, but I ran into a friend of mine who self-publishes his own comic books (Stone and Perils of Picornia) and he suggested with experimenting with a booth at this massive summer flea market that’s nearby with other local artists. Thousands of people come through every day. If I sell angel wings alone, I’ll make back the cost of the booth. If we get exposure for our books/comics while doing so, that would be icing on the cake. Since bookstores don’t both with indies, perhaps we can create our own kiosk at a place people like to frequent?

            We’ll see… Worst that will happen is a bunch of writers stand around in a little white tent a few Saturdays this summer and talk about how to market our books for $25 (total all) per weekend.

  24. Christina says:

    I’ve never gone to a big conference, but I’ve wanted to. I’d love to go to Jimmy Thomas’ RNC conference. It’s affordable and offers so much I’m interested in. Since I couldn’t go to RWA to hear Nora Roberts a few years ago, I ordered her keynote speech for $8 and listen to it often. Otherwise, I’ve been to a couple of local conferences. I can’t say anything really stood out to me, and the self-publishing speaker was talking about using one of the POD presses. This was before Createspace. The local conference I was looking at last year seems to focus more on literary writers and poets instead of genre fiction. I would like to attend a conference with craft workshops. Actually, DragonCon in Atlanta offers fantasy fiction writing panels and a lot of authors go there to meet fans, especially if they write paranormal or fantasy writing. I’m considering Romantic Times at least once, though.

    There are more fan focused conferences popping up and catering to specific genres, like the one in New Orleans for paranormal and vampire writers. I’m not saying no to conferences completely, but right now writing is the best use of my time.

  25. SK Holmesley says:

    Off topic, but in some ways on target for what we’ve been discussing: following our muse, doing what we each learn by trial and error is best for us.

    Neil Gaiman talking about the creative life: http://vimeo.com/42372767