Tempe ComicCon is still kicking my ass

Last Saturday I spent the day sitting under my publisher’s canopy at the Tempe ComicCon. Or Comic Event, Or whatever. Ever since San Diego sued Vegas, no one knows what to call themselves anymore.

26993602_10211504930004659_4359609649977180624_n

Where books sales do not actually happen.

I came away with two sales of Beanstalk and Beyond – both to people I knew – and an upper respiratory infection, likely triggered by allergies. That’s not a good return on investment.

I am not a hard-charging sales guy. I’m going to sit in the corner and doodle on my pad until you ask me a question. We had a few more extroverted authors who chatted up the few folks who stopped inside long enough to be chatted up. One of them sold a book to someone she didn’t now. But our total sales for the day was five, and that counts a trade.

This cannot be The Way.

I must confess here that I have long known this to be a poor strategy. Long ago, I swore to myself that I would not be that author sitting at a con with three books on a table in front of him that no one wants to buy; just sitting there looking sad. These events are distribution channels, but they are not marketing opportunities.

Very few people will impulse buy a book at an event like this. Nothing you do in  the booth is likely to change that. You do your marketing somewhere else.

Behold actual evidence:

gallup-poll-how-readers-select-books

This is taken from a good article by John Brown. It’s just one survey, but I have seen similar results elsewhere.

Let me summarize the factors driving book buying decisions, in order, in larger font:

  1. Previous positive experience wit the author’s work.
  2. Recommendation from a friend
  3. Browsing in a bookstore or library – or rather – the cover.
  4. Reviews
  5. Subject or genre preference

Other factors drop off steeply from there. An increasing part of factor three is search engine positioning. That’s becoming the new bookshelf.

The point of all this is that I had a lot of time to think, while blowing my nose, and I may be forming a Plan. But not enough of one that I can just blurt it out on a blog.

WORD COUNT

2000 total words on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (the sequel to Beanstalk).

1100 on Echoes (the sequel to The 64)

900 on last week’s WHWL?

1200 word equivalent finishing a page for the One of 64 webcomic. (Not the page posted. I’m still a few weeks ahead.)

And I’m going to give myself 1000 words for sitting in that damn booth all day.

That’s 6200. No wonder I’m beat.

Now we know.

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The completion of 51 orbits

Yesterday (Jan 22) was my birthday, which is less of a thing to me than it seems to be on Facebook. There is no particular party planned, past or present. I mention this because people ask.

Even though just about every particular of my life has changed in the past 12 months, in a lot of ways, nothing has changed at all. If that seems contradictory you are not watching me putter around the house.  I’ve learned some important and hard lessons, but they are mostly deeply personal and peculiar to the people in my life. For more general wisdom, I will refer you to what I wrote a year ago, which I still stand by.

Here’s what you can do while not attending my non-existent birthday party:

THIS SATURDAY I will be at Tempe “ComicCon” at the Tempe Public Library hawking Beanstalk and Beyond.  The term “ComicCon” is in quotes because they are not supposed to use the term, but they had already named the thing when that judgement came down from on high.

Beanstalk Conicon 2018

You can also meet the man who put together this poster

Saturday, January 27, 2018
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

TPL Comicon 2017

The Library Comicon is an annual event featuring costume contests, artists & authors, shopping, and activities for children and adults alike.  Fans of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, Wholocks, Trekkies, and more are invited to gather at the Tempe Public Library in costume for a celebration of pop culture.

 

I’ll be in the booth with a good pen and my sparkling wit. I hope to see you there.

 

LEARN FROM MY MISTAKE

It appears that I gave $50 to Barefoot Writers* so I could get 3+ e-mails a day detailing other exiting opportunities to spend even more money, but only if I act right now. More grievous is the inrush of spam mail aimed at the economically desperate – spurious investment opportunities and credit cards I qualify for no matter what.

If copy-writing were really that lucrative and/or understaffed, I’d get like one letter with a take-or-or-leave-it offer. Because they have copy-writing to get back to. The hard sell I’m getting likely means they make more money off of desperate wannabe’s than desperate marketing clients.

Compare/contrast with Marketing Profs Today, a more generic marketing resource, from which I also get regular e-mail. They also offer plenty of opportunities for me to spend more money. Their newsletter, though, will have links to five articles, four of which will have actual content and free – once you click through the pop-ups (this is typical)** . (The fifth will be behind a pay wall.)

All I get from AWAI (the actual acronym for the organization behind Barefoot Spammers) is  bland advice I could get following writers on Twitter, followed by a thousand word hard-sell.

I’ve blown $50 on dumber things, and I had ti to blow at the the time. I’m not wealthy, but I’m solvent enough that $50 by itself does not threaten the budget. Even so, the next bit of curiosity I might satisfy is: will they really give me my money back as claimed?

[*] I am not going to dignify these people with a link. They are not hard to find if you are curious.

[**] You’ll have to give info for a free membership/subscription.

WORD COUNT

1200 words of transcription duty on Taliesin’s Last Apprentice (sequel to Beanstalk and Beyond) on Monday, and then another 1200 original words on that same project on Saturday.

500 words for work-shopping that on the Monday night Central Phoenix Writer’s Workshop.

1500 words on a chapter for Echoes, the sequel to One of 64.

500 words for work-shopping same at the Armadillo Group.

Six panels for the One of 64 webcomic colored (at 200 “words” each) for 600 words.

That’s 5400 words.

A glass of good whiskey, then, and one more time around the sun.

You were warned.

Marketing to writers trying to market trying to…

Last Friday, I did a radio interview for the Author’s Show, and “internet radio” show featuring various authors.  My airdate is November 27 – when you can hear it all day Channel 3.

From their website:

Web

Don’t click – I stole this!

The Authors Show is more than a “show” in the traditional sense of the word.  It is a professional book marketing audio & video program  that offers participants  multiple benefits that authors who are serious about marketing their work need to consider, especially inasmuch as these benefits have long lasting effects.

 

A cynic might say that their primary target is the authors themselves, to whom they will happily sell MP3’s of these interviews starting at $129 and going up quickly from there. I’m not that excited about posting a interview on my website so that six people might listen to it. If I had the distribution platform to make such a thing worthwhile, I could produce an in-house recording of similar quality (I know folk) for less money.

BUT I learned a lot. First of all the guy on the other end of the phone had a spiel about how book marketing actually works, and I was going to listen to it until he ran out of string.

To summarize his Ted Talk, internet marketing is all about getting as high as you can on search engine results. If your work does not appear on the first three pages, you might as well not exist. This is how people look for books. Everything else, your promo posts on social media, your book trailer on You Tube, your well meaning engagement on GoodReads, all of that accounts for a fraction of a percent of typical sales.

We find books by search engine.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with engaging potential readers on Faceplace or Flitter, but that’s basically busy work; waving your hands around so that your publisher thinks you’re trying. Never spend real money on that sort of thing.

The only marketing worth spending money on is that which raises you ij search engines: SEO, site design, and soul-squashingly dull stuff like that..

The other thing I learned is that cell phones are worthless for internet audio. They were very gracious about rescheduling for when I could Skype in. And they asked a bunch of softball questions designed to help me sell my book.  So I’ll stop bagging on them, even though I’m not likely to buy their MP3 of my own voice.

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

An actual book you can buy!

 

Compare and contrast the Tempe Book Festival where we sold three books, all mine, [Beanstalk and Beyond] and all to people I knew.  Now, I believe the actual purpose was to recruit writers rather than sell books to readers, in which case the Tempe event was a rich environment.

 

Yes- Mystic Publishers  is taking submissions.

 

I am told, anecdotally, that I am one of their best sellers. Maybe because I’m marketing to readers, and not writers.

Now we know.

 

PS:

If you made it down this far, we’re friends, and you should now that I am moving. Down the block. Because reasons. So if you feel like you haven’t moved enough crappy furniture, or don’t have enough crappy furniture of your own [and it’s still November 2017] contact me, because I have a surplus of both opportunities.

Beanstalk and Beyond now out in Digital formats

For those of you demanding a version of my novel, Beanstalk and Beyond, in some format hat you can’t hold in your hand, or drop in the bathtub, I have good news!

Newlink Publishing has put all the bits and bytes together in multiple formats for your reading enjoyment. You can find them at Smashwords

http://www.mysticpublishersinc.com/store/product/beanstalk-and-beyond/

The digital version is not this thick.

And if you want a book to hold in your actual hands, you can buy from direct from the publisher.

 

Or, you know, Amazon. If you have to.

It’s on Kindle now too – if you feel like you have to conform.

Selling Out was not my fault

I sold out of Beanstalk and Beyond at Westercon – and that was not my fault.

My title was one of many that my publisher couldn’t get Lightning Source to deliver in time for the convention. Consequently, the only physical copies available for sale in AZ, as far as I know, were in the cardboard box I brought to my book launch, and half of those were already spoken for.

I spent a fair bit on memberships and hotel rooms, and I need to wait a paycheck before I order any more. So if you were hoping to just buy one off of me in the near future, I’m sorry.

I just wrote the damn thing. I was not prepared to be the sole retailer in the state. (I did not have this problem with either of my hiking guides).

Learn from my mistakes: Fire up your Square before the customers walk in, particularly if its been a while. Make and bring business cards. There is no such thing as too many flyers. If you are selling at $15 each, have a pile of Lincolns.

Even so, I sold out. BUT mostly to people I already knew, which is common for a book launch.

There is no better marketing opportunity for early career authors than participating a SF/F convention. Don’t go thinking you’re going to sell a bunch of books to your fellow authors. Go to network, make friends, get ideas. It will pay for itself.

Eventually.

I hope.

In any case, since I actually sold books for profit solely because I attended the con, it is now a tax deduction.

More of what we learned at the con at Practically Done.

Author Events – a thing I do now sometimes

conalope1

I will be at Westercon 70, down the road in Tempe AZ of the July 4th weekend (July 1-4) doing many things.

We are proud to host the most prestigious regional science fiction and fantasy convention on the west coast on its 70th anniversary. … We are officially branding our 2017 event ConAlope. We are commemorating the 70th anniversary not only of Westercon but also of the crash landing of a UFO (or a military surveillance balloon) in Roswell, NM on July 8th, 1947. We suggest that the stranded aliens wrangled a horde of frisky jackalopes and rode northwest to Tempe. They may well make an appearance at Westercon!

I will be hosting a  book launch party for Beanstalk and Beyond .

I will be running episodes of Go Action Fun Time in the game room.

And Mystic Publishers will have copies of  Beanstalk and Beyond for sale in the dealer’s room (along with their other books, I suppose).

This will all be a whole thing with time/space coordinates as soon as I have those. This is just a head’s up.

Before that happens, I will be just south of Prescott next weekend (June 24 & 25) conducting a trail finding/building workshop at Whispering Pines Campground for the annual Arizona Community of Christ Reunion.

This is a church event, and I am there for church reasons, but it would be of interest to  novice hikers, and the event is technically open to the public, assuming you register for the camp. I will also have copies of my hiking guides on hand.

I include the Whispering Pines event because several regular blog readers are also church members, and because it segues into mentioning that this blog now has a calendar page. 

I am also working on a secondary book launch not on a holiday weekend at a major SF/F convention. When I have some resolution to that, I will not be shy. If you have ideas, I am still in the listening phase.

Now you know.

 

Confessions of an Old Rookie

So I haven’t been updating blogs, but I have been plugging along on longer form fiction projects. A trade off. There’s that, and the learning curve of a new job.

I don’t have the advantage of being young and ignorant. I am simply ignorant. There’s some tolerance left to the occasional oh-that-adapter-won’t-work-with-that-gateway-because-reasons that I still encounter. But practical logistics I should be on top of. Case in point:

If you have a four am call, get your information in order the day before, in the sober daylight while informed grown-ups will answer their phones. The location in question was one small section of a labyrinthine medical facility. This particular section was nearly finished (they expected patients by 6am – hence the hour) while the rest of the sprawling site remained a dark wilderness of scaffolding and drywall studs and doors marked no entry.

Anyone on a construction site before sun-up generally knows what they are doing, and not much else.

It took me longer to find the section than to actually do the job. Happily, there was not much to it, and I wandering around looking for a way back to my car comfortably before doors opened.

My previous day job was a 24/7 operation, and I have already made the mistake of wandering around a maze of locked doors if the wee hours of the morning because I forgot to get a more specific location ahead of time.  I may be new but I should know better.

I should have a book launch/party thing planned for Beanstalk and Beyond, but I don’t have books in my hand. Because I kept forgetting to order them. (There was also a paycheck gap as I transitioned jobs). From now on, that’s in the contract – author copies.

Yeah, it’s my first novel, and my first book launch. Neither of the hiking guides had such an event. Of course, I also had 12 copies shipped to my door without asking.

I do not yet know if my publisher will have a table at Westercon, but I will be there anyway running Go Action Fun Time.

I should know better than to put that at the bottom of the post by now, huh?

Now we know.