The Write Convention

Book conventions are the topic of the week and frankly, I have next to no direct experience with being a seller at one.

I have not (yet) published a book and therefore have never even considered having a table at a convention. I have been to regional ones with book talks and many sellers. Although it has been a mixed experience, I plan on attending more, but for the past several years my plans have been dashed.

I have heard incredible stories of great opportunities for networking at conventions. Many independent writers, or those published by small presses, have serendipitously gotten into bigger presses or find a great agents at conventions, but alas, that is the exception rather than the rule.

One now-huge writer said that when she was on her way up, she met a mega-star writer just outside the hall as they left a convention late one night. (“I wanted to ask her: Don’t you have people to keep people like me away from you?”) She and her husband asked the famous writer to join them for dinner and they had a marvelous evening, but I wouldn’t count on that happening to many of us.

In fact, I may be telling tales out of school, but one of our former Foxes spent good money to get into a big book convention only to be duffled into another room, away from the New York press authors, who were all put into a main room. She and the other smaller-press authors in the smaller room later found out that attendees were steered away from their room and were told that it was only for ‘over-flow’. The Fox and the others had wondered why they had seen so few potential buyers. It was totally unfair, as the smaller-press, lesser-known authors paid just as much as the big-guns. How were they going to become better-know and bigger-guns with such treatment? (This is something you need to ask and consider if you are ever planning to attend a convention.)

As some of my colleagues have stated this week, some parts of conventions are hard to handle. So many yet-to-be-famous writers looking hopefully in your direction. So many nice people to meet, so many interesting people to talk to, so many interesting books, but you’d have to be independently wealthy, (with great charity in your heart), and time on your hands to buy every book from everyone you meet. It is hard to turn down or gingerly avoid having to buy books from every one of the authors. My resources have been quite limited most of the time and the book talks, author lectures and workshops are fun…and free. Frankly, I missed many of them at the last one, speaking for hours to an author I had met online through Jeff-the-Hound, who was also in attendance for part of the day, along with his lovely wife. (Yet another perk of a book convention: meeting online friends in person!) My husband hit some more of the talk and we had taken my grandson, who likes to write. He attended a great workshop with a famous children’s author who encouraged him greatly, (as did Jeff and our mutual friend. Thanks again, Jeff; he is still writing as a teenager.)Jeff and Jonny at SOKY

It is also difficult at times to go as a visitor to a bigger convention with big-name authors or other famous people who are there to promote a book and with whom you would like to speak. Take a stuffed wallet or a card with a high credit limit because you are not getting near them without having bought a book there at the convention for them to sign. And your time with them may be very limited indeed.

All that having been said, I keep planning on attending more and will, I do hope. If I get my own works ready will I ever get a table at one?

Right now, I have to say that frankly, I don’t know, but I think that I would. I can’t see that it is worth it in the monetary and sales areas, but I observed great camaraderie and support among the authors while they were waiting between possible customers and even during the interaction with them. So many lovely people who would introduce me to the writer in the next chair, or point me to a friend of theirs, it was quite heartening. I might go in it for that, but I will cross that bridge when I come to it.

How about you? Anything you’d like to add concerning book conventions?

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About Tonette Joyce

Tonette was a once-fledgling lyricists-bookkeeper, turned cook/baker/restaurateur and is now exploring different writing venues,(with a stage play recently completed). She has had poetry and nonfiction articles published in the last few years. Tonette has been married to her only serious boyfriend for more than thirty years and she is, as one person described her, family-oriented almost to a fault. Never mind how others have described her, she is,(shall we say), a sometime traditionalist of eclectic tastes.She has another blog : "Tonette Joyce:Food,Friends,Family" here at WordPress.She and guests share tips and recipes for easy entertaining and helps people to be ready for almost anything.
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10 Responses to The Write Convention

  1. Joselyn says:

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head. Newer authors and small press authors need to look at the bigger conventions as a networking opportunity rather than a book-selling opportunity. Making those connections will be much more valuable.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, I have heard that no matter WHAT connections you make, they are valuable,(hence so many writers on my FB). Besides, I have found that “six-degrees-of-separation” or less is true. Analyzing my own life, I have found myself within just a few separations from many, many famous people.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jeff7salter says:

    Other than the cost of the “table” — which will logically be much greater, as the size and status of the venue increases — it takes about as much effort, time, nerve, preparation, logistics, etc. to participate in a tiny local event. The other significant difference is distance traveled and whether you needed to book a room for the night.
    I’ve always optimistically carried many more books than I thought even feasible to sell… so I’m always hauling them back home. Kinda depressing.
    Other than those handful of events where I’ve sold a “bunch” — though that term is relative for an “unknown” author — it’s not uncommon to tally up receipts and find I sold only 3 or 4 or 5 books.
    But you have to keep plugging onward.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your name and face is out there, Jeff.It’s all publicity and hey, you should try to have fun! These should be learning/social events. I know of one author whose protagonist loves smoothies.She made smoothies at a bookfest, (and I believe she also sneaked in a few spiked, frozen adult beverages.***Don’t try that, Angie!)

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Goodness, I can’t imagine trying to buy even one book from EACH author at the events I’ve attended. I have taken swag and then sent them out with my stuff when I offer a swag bag as a prize. I hope you finish those books you’re working on so we can share a table someday!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Gee, thanks, Patty. I put a lot into short stories and articles. I swear that I am going to knuckle-down on the books, then something comes up.You have no idea how much is already done or revised in my mind.
    I suppose I should have said “each book that looked interesting” or “from each author you speak with”…that alone will test even a major income.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What an amazing experience for your grandson. I can only imagine how encouraging that was to him to be able to attend with you and talk with authors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, it was! I had hoped to get him back to another one, but it did not come to pass.However, he really enjoyed the workshop and the author there spoke with us afterward, with great words of encouragement. Jonny had taken some of his writings, (we made bindings for his finished stories), and Jeff was reading one in the picture.He was wonderful to him with encouragements, as was Rob Kuehnle/Ashton Lee. As I said, he is still writing now at 14, mostly with his girlfriend! They have collaborated on some, but are really concentration on a book-length adventure story told from two different perspectives, his and hers. He is in town for the summer, although they have not seen much of each other. They write it here at night and when he is away, first in Maryland, now the Cincinnati suburbs, via the computer, (FaceTime, messenger, etc.). They have had me proofread some of it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • jeff7salter says:

        knowing how important it was to me — at those young ages — to receive reinforcement from adults (not related to me), I have taken every conceivable opportunity to encourage young writers. Your grandson was/is very talented.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you, Jeff.I will tell him. How good of you! Yes, he is still improving.

        Liked by 1 person

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