I’ll be in Austin next weekend for ArmadilloCon (generally one of my favorite cons!), and I hope to see people I know there. Here’s where I’ll be:
I’ll be in Austin next weekend for ArmadilloCon (generally one of my favorite cons!), and I hope to see people I know there. Here’s where I’ll be:
I will be at Comicpalooza next weekend (June 17-19) in Houston, and I wanted to put my schedule up here…
(Very excited! This is my first Comic Con).
FRIDAY 4:00 – 5:00pm Why We Love Urban Fantasy
Amy Sisson (M); Leslie S. Klinger, J. Kathleen Cheney, Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon
11:00 – 12:00pm Marketing for Writers: How to Sell What You Write
Ashley Nemer (M) Cassandra Rose Clarke J. Kathleen Cheney D. L. Young Alan J. Porter
1:30 – 2:00 pm SIGNING
(I don’t know if anyone will actually buy any of my books, but I hope to sign at least ONE!)
4:00 – 6:00pm Workshop: Revising Your Drafts
Jayme Lynn Blaschke (M), Katherine Catmull, Heather Poinsett Dunbar, Christopher Dunbar, J. Kathleen Cheney (Obviously, the B-D crew)
Since I’ve never been before, I’m sure I’ll be a bit overwhelmed. The excellent Michelle Muenzler will be there, and since I’ll probably inflict at least one Finnish lesson on her during they drive, I invite you all to come tell either of us, Tervehdys! Or Terve. Or Hei…
I have my final schedule for the DFWCon, a chance for budding writers to network and learn tools of the trade. I’ve attached the sessions I’m doing below:
Saturday, 9:00-9:50. Class – Historical Research for Fiction Writers. Room 201C.
Researching for a historical piece? This session covers Historical Research for Fiction Writers: Where to Start, When to Stop, and What to Do When You Mess Up
Saturday, 11:00-11:50. Panel – It’s Your Public, Deal With It. Room 202C.
The best ways to deal with fans, social media, book signings, blog tours, guest blogging, etc.
Sunday, 4:00-4:50. Workshop – So Here’s My Problem. Room 202B.
You’ll be part of a group of instructors that will help writers with whatever writing challenge they bring to the table. Each of the FOUR writers will have 11 minutes to discuss their problem and receive feedback from the instructors.
If you’re going to be there, I hope I see you! Please stop by and say hi!
Con Reports are one of those things we seem to do to let the world know we actually went to a con instead of saying we did and spending the day getting massages and eating room service nachos.
So let’s see…
We flew to Saratoga Springs on Thursday, and every stage of the trip went smoothly. After we arrived, we went out to dinner with Lawrence M. Schoen and his wife Valerie, and had excellent crepes. I’m afraid that I was so tired after that (we -did- get up about 2:30 AM), that I went back up to my room and went to bed.
Friday morning I woke promptly at 4:30 AM. That should provide everyone with an explanation why I’m rarely at parties at night…by then I’m dead on my feet! I had breakfast with my wonderful agent, Lucienne Diver, and then did a panel on Healers in Fantasy (with James Alan Garner, Julie Czerneda, and Anatoly Belilovsky–one of my fellow Codexians.) I do know that panel went very well because there were still people stopping me the next day to tell me how much they enjoyed it.
The rest of the day was a bit of a blur. There was a mass autographing session that night where I was rather shocked to find that a reader had actually brought some of my books to be signed. That made my evening ;o) (Thanks, Dee!)
At some point in there I met several excellent people, but I certainly won’t be able to name them all. I got to catch up with Tina Connolly and Caroline Yoachim, chatted with Tex Thompson, Dominick D’Aunno, met Shecky Betai, hung out with fellow Carpe Libris gals, Melissa Mead and Ruth Burroughs, and chatted with Renee Babcock and Cathy Green…and I need to remember to send out author copies when I get them! Too many others to get them all. I’m sorry if I’ve left you off, but I’m beginning to think I need to take notes at these things!
Saturday was the Codex Breakfast (always fun) where some issues with the venue’s wheelchair accessibility became evident. I followed that with a comparatively lackluster panel (no one came up to tell me they enjoyed that one….hmmm), then had dinner with another crowd where I got to meet other smashing people. Or was that Friday night?
This is the problem with con reports…by the time I’ve arrived home, I’ve forgotten the order of everything!
I did get to go to the awards banquet (along with my husband), courtesy of my publisher. The Penguin table had not only two of the amazing editors (Diana Gill and Anne Sowards), but also Joe Haldeman (!) and his charming wife, Guy Gavriel Kay (!), and Anne Bishop(!!!), none of whom treated me like I was a terrible interloper. (There was one other gentleman at out table, an editor named Oliver….whose last name continues to elude me!)
And Monday? Well I spent that in blissful research, aided by the SSPL’s Local History Librarian, Teri Blasko, who dug up all manner of resources for me and made some excellent recommendations…
So that was Saratoga Springs. I really love it there, although if I had to be there in January, I don’t think I would. ;o)
And since I’ve gotten back, I’ve been back to scrambling around, getting work done on the house and trying to catch up…so if I’m sending you something, it may take a couple of days to get to it. Sorry!
But it was a lovely town to return to, and I hope that we’re there again in another 8 years (although the issues with accessibility should be addressed first.)
I’ve been underwater lately with my recent move to Texas, so I haven’t been posting much, but I’m finally getting all the moving chores back under control and will have time to return to the writing world. In fact, I actually met with some other writers yesterday for a two-hour writing session at a Starbucks!
But World Fantasy Con is coming up very fast, so I wanted to get my schedule posted. I will be on two panels:
Friday at 11AM:
Healing in Fantasy
Sometimes you just need a doctor, but in Fantasyland a healer has to do. Magical healing is a surprisingly common and yet complex issue. The panel will discuss the ramifications of magical healing and which texts they feel illustrate some of the more nuanced approaches to getting your heroes and heroines back on their feet.
James Alan Garner (mod.), Anatoly Belilovsky, J.K. Cheney, Julie Czerneda
Saturday at 11AM
Fantasy Landscapes and the limits of imagination
From gloomy Gothic woods, to empty Gothic Mountain fastnesses… is there more to fantasy-scapes than the Gothic, or are we stuck in a haunted Gothic rut?
J.K. Cheney, John Clute, Mary Soon Lee, Paul Park
(I very much fear I’m the moderator on that last one, although it doesn’t have me marked.)
Anyhow, I’ll be present there, and if you run into me, stop and say hi! (And remember that I’m terrible with names, so be patient if I can’t remember yours ;o)
I have my schedule for ArmadilloCon in Austin this weekend. Since I’ll be moderating a couple of these, I’ll get to sound official!
(Reminders about Giveaways at the bottom.)
Researching Your Book Fri 5:00 PM-6:00 PM Ballroom E
Blaschke, Cheney*, Moyer, Osborne, Thomas, Wood
Where to look, who to ask, what to do? How much is too much? What do you do with all the research that doesn’t fit in the book?
Stump the Panel: Make Up an SF/F Use for an Everyday Object Sat 10:00 AM-11:00 AM Ballroom D
Cheney*, Mandala, Stoddard, Rose, Rountree
The audience supplies the items, and the panel provides the imagination.
Broad Universe Sat 2:00 PM-3:00 PM Southpark A
Burton, Cheney, Jones, Latner*, Oliver, Ward, Wright
A joint reading by members of the writers’ group Broad Universe “promoting science fiction, fantasy, and horror written by women.
Sa1600DR AutographingSat 4:00 PM-5:00 PM Dealers’ Room
Cheney, Eudaly, Finn, Latner, Reed, Webb, Wells
Hardcore Business of Writing Sun 11:00 AM-Noon Ballroom F
Cheney, Jacobs, Maresca, Swendson*, Wells
How does a writer look out for him/herself in the big world of publishing? What has helped the panelists most in forming a profitable writing career?
Performing Major Surgery on Your Novel Sun Noon-1:00 PM Ballroom F
Cargill, Cheney*, Chu, Marmell, Sarath, Wood
When do you know it’s time for a major redo of your novel? What do you do when an editor asks for a severe change in word count, to delete or add a subplot, or change the viewpoint character? Is it best to cut with precision, or chuck it all and start over?
So that’s what I’ll be doing at ArmadilloCon (when I’m not holed up in my room eaditing!)
If you’re in the Austin area, you should definitely come and see the show ;o)
There’s a giveaway running through this Wednesday on GoodReads for copies of The Shores of Spain.
And the Rafflecopter giveaway still has 10 days left!
Today I’m joining the list of author’s who’ve visited Jill Archer’s Blog this spring/summer to share some photographs that describe our lives.
Also a reminder that SoonerCon is coming up this weekend, and I hope to be seeing a lot of friendly faces there!
This will probably be my last post on the RT convention, and I will leave my gentle reader to draw their own conclusions.
(This photo came off Twitter, and I was unclear on the credits for it.)
I’m going to talk money.
Recall the fortune cookie from the previous entry with its obscure message about spending money to make money? (I think that’s what it meant, at least…) The whole RT convention is an exercise in this.
I’ll put up a rough list here. Because I drove, I have parking expenses instead of paying for airline flights. I also split the hotel room, but had dog boarding* to pay as well (which is not, I understand, tax deductible.)
These numbers are rounded a bit for simplicity, and I’ll assume arriving Tuesday, leaving Sunday
Admission to RT: 489
Payment to do the Book Signing : 10
Hotel Expense: 480
Parking: 27 per day 135
Food: Let’s call it 50 per day 300
Tips: Big hotel, lots of tips 50
That’s pretty pricey for a con. More than SFF people are accustomed to paying. In addition to that, I paid 162 to be one of the hostesses of a party (Other members of FF&P-RWA were kind enough to invite me to join.) My publisher supplied 25 books to give away at that party. That would have cost me a lot if I was providing them myself.
Was it worth it financially?
This is the question we ask after every con, with no way to know the answer.
I frankly don’t know if it will pay off as opposed to, say, World Fantasy Con. I did get to meet some great Urban Fantasy authors that I haven’t before. I got to meet Mary Balogh, of whom I’m a fan. But did I meet enough readers to make a positive impression? That I can’t say.
I will say that I think I would have done better if I’d gotten on some panels. I was too late to do that, honestly. In addition, there were some meet and greet venues that I also found out about too late, although several authors told me that they didn’t do those.
As I noted back on Tuesday, WOM is the best promotion of all, so I hope that a few read my books and like them. That would be the best result.
The most interesting thing about this is that there are readers–hundreds of them–who do this year after year. That’s a fascinating phenomenon to me. They go wherever the convention goes. It’s their Superbowl.
That was an eyeopener to me. And it’s kinda cool ;o)
ETA: *Dog Boarding was 440, which pretty much thrust this con over 2,000 for me. 😦
I’ve returned from the Romantic Times Convention in DFW, and after a week of considering promotions, I’ve come to a few conclusions.
First of all, I can offer my own evidence:
I went to the con with about 250 pens, came back with 63. In fact, I’ve actually told a bookseller and a couple of librarians that I would send them some, so I’ve already ordered MORE PENS.
I probably gave away about 150 bookmarks, 100 of which went into the bags at the Mad Hatter party (in other words, I forced them onto people rather than people taking them.) I will need more, as I’ve offered to mail some to, once again, a bookseller and some librarians.
The business cards didn’t do as well. Other authors suggested that a) they needed to have a ‘fantasy’ element on the cover. They also needed to say FREE EBOOK somewhere, which I’d left off because I can’t guarantee that Amazon will continue the price match.
So over all, I think that my pens were most successful, and since they’re pens, people are likely to hang onto them.
I have a degree in marketing, and I know that there are two important aspects to any form of promotion: 1) people have to look at it and remember it, and 2) people have to recall who or what it was intended to advertise. There are plenty of commercials on TV that people adore, but the viewers can’t recall what they were advertizing.
I’m trying to apply those principles to my promotional choices, and invest my promo dollars wisely.
So what do I think works?
Pens will be kept, and people cannot escape what they advertise. Another item that I adored was these: lens wipes.
I have these courtesy of Jenna Black (whose book I bought), Julie Kenner (I’ve already read those), and INscribe Digital. The lens wipes run about 50% higher than pens, but they are things that people will keep and use. They start around 60-65 cents each, making them pricey, but perhaps they’re worth it if they’ll keep a name in front of potential customers. (FWIW, you can chose not to put them on swag tables, but if you put them on the table during a panel, people will come up and take one, thereby giving you a chance to make a connection.)
Oddly, I received this fortune cookie last night, which seemed apt to this situation.
(OK, it’s a bit cryptic. Or perhaps it’s simply an example of poor grammar.)
Other ‘keepers’ that have been suggested to me are notepads and notebooks. Again, these are more expensive. Also, some have said that buttons work, but they need to be distinctive. In other words, they should be traceable back to the author somehow. There was a really clever one floating around RT, but I have no idea what company or author gave it away, so it was a wasted effort.
Oddly, here’s an inexpensive one that I thought was great:
These are packs of beechies chewing gum (2 per box.) The author here, Samantha Chase, informed me that these were only a few cents each (from Oriental Trading) and she affixed the labels herself. (They are reproductions of her covers.)
While this particular box will get thrown away (I threw mine away), it served as a fantastic conversation starter, and I saw her engage with readers and end up giving them other things. So I think that little candies/gum can be a great starter as long as the writer is present. (In other words, not the best for a swag table.)
Some final notes here: someone noted that different venues do better with different swag. For example, bookmarks are great for libraries and booksellers. Not as great as other things at cons, it seems.
A bookseller told me that Romance readers want a bookmark small enough to fit entirely inside the book. SFF readers will take a larger bookmark (like mine.) Having looked at a lot of bookmarks there, I think she’s correct about that. Therefore, I’m contemplating making mine smaller next time.
I am going to look into lens wipes, notepads, buttons, and a few other smaller things. Just so you know I have been paying attention this week ;o)
However, I will remind everyone that NOTHING works as well as old-fashioned Word of Mouth. I would give up all of the above if only Oprah, Ellen, or Brad Pitt would mention my books. Or NPR. Or nice readers on Facebook and Twitter….that’s what really works best in the long run.
Among other things, I’m a member of two RWA chapters and via one of those, I was invited to participate in one of the events at this con, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party (for Fantasy Romance writers).
Now first of all, I need to specify that I did none of the back-breaking organization involved in this. That fell to the other hostesses who made arrangements with RT, arranged for decorations and cookies and all the goodies and handled all the monies. (All the authors contributed to help cover the cost.)
In addition, my publicist arranged for me to have 25 copies of The Golden City to give away there!
The other authors and I got together at 3:30 to start decorating for a 5:00 party. (BY THE WAY, by 3:30 there were already people waiting to be in the first 100 to get into the party and thus get a goody bag and a free book from one of the authors.) We ran around like chickens with our heads cut off setting up the tables:
Each party goer was also given a trivia challenge.
From left to right: Debra Kristi, Tameri Etherton, Grace Draven, Elizabeth Hunter, Mina Khan, Rebekah Ganiere, L. H. Nicole, (ME..with NO HAT :(…) and the charming Jeffe Kennedy (who is the queen of hats!)
At the appointed hour, we started letting people in, where they each got a ‘goody bag’ full of swag and chose a free book from one of the authors. Since I’m new to this type of con, I was gratified that anyone took my book. I got this shot below on my phone, though, and only realized this morning that two of the ladies there are, indeed, looking at The Golden City!!!!! (see the shameless arrowage)
The event was packed, we had fun with the trivia game, and all the books were snabbled up. I was actually asked to sign several and got to talk to a bunch of readers, plus I also signed my “Penguin Passport” for several of the guests as well.
So over all, I was extremely pleased, which makes the busty author do this: big cheesy grin.
So thanks to all the readers and guests that came, thanks to the other FF&P-RWA Fantasy Romance authors who let me participate, to my publicist and publisher who helped provide the swag, and to Diana Pharoah Francis (my con roomie and all-around amazing author) for helping out and taking all these pics!
It was a blast!
(And as a final note for the SFF con comparison and Romance con comparison aspect, this was held in a banquet room from 5-6PM, unlike genre con parties which are held in hotel rooms from 9PM-4AM. Also, the RT people told us we could go ahead and leave and THEY cleaned everything up afterward. That doesn’t happen at a genre con.)