WesternCon 62 Wrap-up

Back home, where the AC is not so cold at all…

More lessons from WesterCon 62:

Having two separate names for a Con does NOT help promoting it at all.

If you held a panel “Living with Asperger’s” – you would probably fill the room – for an hour of awkward conversation. [So ya know: this is not simply a casual interest of mine.]

If you’re a panelist and you go off at length about problem panelists dominating the conversation – guess what? Yeah. Horrified attendees will mock you on their blogs.

Sometimes the panel you most looked forward to attending turns out to be the least informative. So it goes.

In RPG’s at least, e-book sales did not measurably eat into print sales. Something for the rest of the publishing industry to note.

And now, in no particular order, links I have written down in my notes for one reason or another:

RPG Now for RPG e-book and more. Also: Warehouse 23 – for everything by Steve Jackson Games.

Middle-Earth for middle-graders: MEAG

If you’re going to self-publish, at least do it right with outfits lke this:

AZ Publishing Services

Looking for an agent, or just info about agents: Agent Query

and/or Query Tracker

(Oh – and agents do not frequent fan-orientated cons. They already have slush piles.)

Because I drank their booze and didn’t pay for it: The United Federation of Phoenix (Hooray! two, maybe three extra hits…)

Claudia Villa, costume designer who helped Kelly Sparrow (aka my daughter.) BTW, I’m best known around the Con as Kelly Sparrow’s father.

And she’s been warned that this is the last year she can get by on cute. Next year, she needs to work a bit more on her costume.

Pirate parties are the best.

Now You Know

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Live from WesterCon 62

Sitting in my hotel room at the Temp Mission Palms, where I am attending WesterCon 62 – aka Fiestacon.

Here’s what we’ve learned since Friday morning:

Tempe Mission Palm’s claim of “high speed wireless” is somewhat optimistic. It is, however, free.

Notes from DIY Marketing panel:

* The author is the brand.

* Have a one sentence “elevator-pitch” for your work rehearsed and readu to fire for interviews (and random encounters at Cons).

* Your website is your #1 point of contact for potential consumers. Make it a good one that people can find. In this sense, a domain name pays fr itself.

* Get business cards specific to your art (not your day job) and leave some blank space on them.

* Free samples lead to sales. One way to do that: podcasting.

Your first novel is the one piece of writing least likely to be sold by a “pitch session”. Pitch sessions, while a legitimate if evil practice in film, are almost always scams in the book publishing trade. They want to read your manuscript.

Likewise, do not let a POD publisher convince you that the small press/ebook ocean is the fram team of big-time publishing. Folks have made it that way – but mostly by random coincidence.

“I already have a slush pile.” says Patrick Nielson Hayden, panelist and editor for Tor books.

So you know, agents and editors who are worth dealing with do, in fact, read at least a part of every manuscript in their slush pile. This is the system they have devised to find books they can sell. Write a good book. Get in the slush pile. That, despite the odds, is the surest path.

Don’t try to jump the curve writing towards what’s hot right now. What’s on the shelves right now represents what publishers were buying 2 or 3 years ago. Unless you have some insight into what will be hot in 2012, your surest approach is to write the novel you want to read.

On worldbuilding: “The world is there to support the characters, not the other way around.” says Diana Gabaldon. That said, the key is consitency. You only get to suspend belief so many times.

Magic the Gathering killed a lot of gaming stores. Here’s how: collectable card games have an opposite marketing strategy than regular RPG’s. RPG’s live on backlist: someone buys the intial core rules, then keeps coming back bit by bit to buy more things. Collectable cards, though, roll through stock on a regular basis. Players buy as much as they can afford as soon as they’re hooked, but then very little until the next expansion comes out. So, rather than having several books on the shelves indefinitely, you need to move the product quickly to make room for the enxt expansion.

The secondary effect was that because of the money Magic TG was bringing in, many gamestore owners sold out to investors who had no clue what to do when, a few years later, MTG lost it’s mana, and sale plummetted.

There were something ike 10,000 dedicated gamestores in the mid 90’s.Now there is something like 2500.

[my source was panelist Mike Stackpole.]

There will be more later about YA and writer’s groups and xenobiology.

Now You know.