4.19.2016

A Report fromTwo Book Conventions

L to R: Colleen Houck, me, Sarah Schmitt, Ginger Scott at RT
I recently attended two book conventions and wanted to give my take on them, since fellow authors are often curious. The first one, Roanoke Author Invasion (or RAI) was a smallish convention in Roanoke, Virginia. The one I just returned from in Las Vegas was a HUGE one, called RT Booklovers (or simply RT).

RAI was mainly composed of indie authors, though some authors had small/large publishers behind them. There were no panels, and everything centered around a Saturday book fair and after-party. Because the organizer, Liz Long managed to get a front page article in the Roanoke Times, and then nail a TV spot, lots of locals showed up, which was great! I kept the price of my books reasonable and gave out swag with each purchase. When I ran out of the most popular book (Witch of the Cards) I took pre-paid orders and mailed the books out as soon as I returned. I got newsletter signups with the promise of a free story anthology (our Mayhem in the Air one, which I gift via Amazon so we make sales). Long story short, everyone wants a perk with a purchase. The after-party was a great way to blow off steam, and they even had a live DJ. Oh, and I got to meet Cherie Reich, one of our Untethered Realms peeps, who lives in Roanoke! My assessment: RAI was worth it because of the great local advertising and because it was short with a big bang.
At RAI (I am on the right-ish side, in back)
RT, in contrast, is HUGE, and lasts for days (7). Many of the authors are famous (or infamous. LOL) and have big publishers. This can be intimidating, but there's also a healthy mix of hybrid authors (me) and indie authors, and the intermingling is cool. RT's schedule packs in so many panels, promo events, parties, talks, publisher presentations, and free pitch opps to agents and publishers it made my head spin. Not to mention the 3 1/2 hour Giant Book Fair! This year I chose to be in what's called YA Alley.  There is also an NA and a general section. I weaseled onto a YA panel, which was a lucky fluke, as these fill up fast. In fact, one must sign up for this book con THE DAY IT GOES LIVE or take the risk of missing out.

My smartest move at this book fair was to offer a deal that if readers bought two books they got a third for free. I made a bunch of sales this way, because, again, people always want specials. Many took bookmarks, saying they only read on their digital devices, so going forward, I want to figure out a unique perk for these readers. I ended up selling well, but bringing more books than I sold, so I gave extras away at the Teen Day Party, where I got to meet and greet tons of teen readers and their parents, who also read YA! This con was super-tiring, so I would caution authors not to try to go to all of the events, but pick and choose and make sure to take rests in between. It makes sense to stay IN the con hotel at RT for this reason alone. I'm not a gambler, but I loved the slot machine art and the live performances. Hey, we even saw Britany Spears at Planet Hollywood. I'm no fan, but OMG, she put on a real spectacle with great dancers and incredible sets. Over at my blog, Idea City, I did a photo journal of the events, if you want to see more photos, click here. But first, scroll down to answer a question!
Dragon slot game

Caesar's Palace's faux Greek goddess













In June I'll be going to Utopia in Nashville, and I'm sure I will learn even more there. Have you attended a book con? Any tips to share?

10 comments:

  1. Were all the speculative authors of fiction at this conference? Looks like fun.

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    1. There were spec fiction authors at both cons.

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  2. Sounds like you had a productive and fun time.

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  3. It was so great to meet you, Catherine, at RAI! The other convention sounds like it was a blast too.

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  4. Great tips! And so awesome that you got to go to these conventions. It's hard for me to get away with a little one at home. Hopefully one day in the next few years, I'll be able to attend one.

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  5. I'm green with envy! We don't have many of those here.

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    1. Aww, no need for that. There are book fairs and conventions all over the country, in small, medium and large cities. You just need to locate them.

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  6. Sounds like fun Catherine!!! I'm so disappointed not to be going to the Nashville Conference. I hope next year I can attend. Have Fun!!!

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  7. Must have been loads of fun indeed. Nice photos!

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  8. Sounds like you did great at both, Catherine! Wish I could have tagged along with you. Thanks for the info.

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