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Last weekend was my first experience at Philcon, and unfortunately, it was like my experience at quite a few other cons lately.

For one of the countries longest-running cons it was pretty lightly attended, in part because of the location, outside of Philadelphia itself. A lot of city dwellers don’t have cars, so getting to a venue far removed from their usual routes is a bit of a problem.  At least, I’m hoping that’s the reason.  Multiply the light attendance with an increased reluctance to buy anything in the dealers room and you can see my problem.  I think we did better than most there, simply because I learned long ago, at a con, that you can’t just sit there.

I was a guest at I-Con in Stony Brook, and had a turn at one of the author tables in the dealers room, on a Sunday when most people had either already spent their money and were getting ready to leave or had decided what they wanted to spend their money on.  Experienced con guests will usually go through the dealers room several times over the course of the weekend, and only buy the things they want on the last day.  This is because a) they don’t want to have to carry this stuff around, b) if they still want it on the third day they must really want it, and c) they get a chance to run the numbers and decide what they can afford.  A new author like me, just showing up on their radar on the last day, didn’t have much of a chance.

But I learned from watching the author next to me what not to do. She put out a small stack of books, a stack of postcards (on a huge table), and then ignored everyone as she sat and talked to another author.  What’s wrong with this picture?

I learned to a) stand up, so people will actually see you. B) face front and look at them, better yet, talk to them, call them over. They aren’t going to come up to you begging for the glorious opportunity to buy your books.  If they talk to you and get some idea of how you talk and what you sound like they’ll be much more likely to get a book written by you (if they like what they hear, that is).  It’s like these blog posts and tweets and whatnot. You read my glorious prose here, and immediately dash off to acquire everything I’ve ever written. Right?

Where was I? Oh yeah, c) display. I had only a few books and CDs, but I spread them out to cover a lot more room. I spread my little stack of bookmarks to cover half a table, and put my poster to one side. I owned that table.  We’ve been doing this sort of thing ever since, and Philcon was no exception.  We noticed several vendors who were very closed off from their customers, and surprise, they got few sales.

It also helps that we give away little rubber ducks.  Never underestimate the power of the Duck Side of the Force.

The real problem we had with this con was the con itself.  In addition to charging for the table they also require all dealers and their helpers to have memberships in the con.  Which we never get a chance to use, because we’re dealers, in this room, at our tables.  We never get to go to the panels, although access to the con suite is helpful at times.  If I’d been able to stay I would have spent a lot of time there, schmoozing.  I suppose it’s easier for them to just admit everyone with a badge, rather than have to screen the badges and exclude the dealers, but it’s a monster expense for us.  I would have made a profit on the table except for that.  Fortunately for me, I’m doing this mainly to get the books out there, not to make my living. Lots of dealers make their living this way and expenses like this are a deal-breaker.

On the plus side, I did meet Robert Quill again, and this time I decided to get an Author Guy image made.  It was probably due to my lack of sleep, I’d driven home the night before and then driven back, so I’d had 6 hours of sleep.  So my rational ‘Don’t spend money’ reflexes were down, and I wanted one. Go to his site, look at his work, and tell me you don’t want one too.  So eventually I will get an Author Guy image, and then I’ll have to figure out what to do with it.

I also met a few fellow authors, most of whom spent a great deal of time regaling me with all the intimate details of their books.  Yay.  One, Russ Colchamiro, had a book called Finders Keepers, which looks like fun. I just went to his website and played the video there.  One poor guy came to my table and asked if I had any books with demons. So I told him all about Origins, a book that will be coming out in February, about a vampire girl born of a demon and a witch, working with a government spook squad, when daddy decides to visit.  And he’s like, “Oh crap, I was gonna write a book about a girl born of a demon and a human, who’s out to kill her father, but maybe I won’t now.” And I’m like, “Dude, write it anyway, every author tells a different story.” So then he asks me if I’d like to read his book about cows from outer space, trying to conquer Earth.  I traded him a copy of Killer Cows, sitting right there on my table.  Some days you just can’t win.

Have you been to any cons, as a guest or a dealer? What have your con experiences been like lately?


The ‘third and last’ bit is from my second novel, A Warrior Made.  Just thought I’d throw it in, since I’m totally wiped and weird things are happening in my brain.

Confluence ended yesterday, a frenetic day in which we sell as much stuff as we did the day before, which is longer.  Everyone who spent the weekend browsing comes in and buys a lot of stuff before they leave.  The same thing happened this time around, but unfortunately the day before we didn’t sell too much stuff.  End result we probably lost money.  Maybe not, there are people who get stuff off the web after they meet you, and there’s no way to know how much.  Also, a lot of the books we had were overstock that we don’t need to or can’t reorder.

I bought up all the remaining stock of Triangulations: Taking Flight that they had, 11 copies.  I have a story in that book so I sell and sign them whenever I can get copies.  In the future they’ll have to order new copies to be printed if I want to do that.  The new volume, Triangulations: End of the Rainbow, is based on the ‘color of silence’ theme, and I didn’t even enter a story into that one.  I did have an idea for it that might work as well for the new contest, which has the theme ‘Last Contact’.

I got some books signed by Wen Spencer on Saturday, and I ended up chatting with her again on Sunday while she was waiting for a panel to start.  I asked her if she would be interested in reading my novel St. Martin’s Moon for a cover quote, and she said she would!  (How cool is that?)  I hope she likes it, a Wen Spencer quote would be cool to have.

The trip home was both less and more nightmarish than I expected.  We did run into an I-80 construction delay, but only one.  On the other hand we got held up for an hour at the GWB.  Didn’t get home until after 2 AM again.  But I forced myself out of bed and did work, sorting books and such.  This means that right now I’m pretty much done in, and will now go take a nap.

So yesterday was my first day at Confluence this year.  As always, everybody here is just as nice as can be.  Even the trip went well, we only got caught up in one of those perpetual PA highway construction hellholes once.  Lost a good half hour and thought we would get here late, but we managed anyway.  We were still setting up as the dealer’s room opened.

A lot of the same people from last year are here again, Christina from Undiscovered Treasures who sells stones, jewelry, carvings, and the occasional T-Shirt.  We got a shirt from her a few years ago, a Christmas present for my son the archaeologist.  Then we lost it, and found it again in time for the Christmas after that.  There was another T-shirt vendor here a few years back, I got a nice dragon shirt from her, that has ‘Curl up with a good book’ printed on it.  Haven’t seen her in a while though.

Confluence is a literary convention, so the people who come here love books, which is great, but most of the vendors here sell books, which isn’t so great.  But they don’t sell Echelon Press books, and they don’t have the full range of titles and genres.  People who read SF/F also tend to read in a lot of other genres, but the other book vendors only carry SF/F while I carry everything.  So hopefully I’ll sell some of that stuff today.  Yesterday we were open for three hours and I sold 4 books, all of which were either written by me or had stories in them that were written by me.  4 down, 80 more to go!

Back to the Dealer’s Room!

Unbinding the Stone

A Warrior Made

A Warrior Made

Click here to BUY NOW!

St. Martin’s Moon

St. Martin's Moon

Click cover to Buy Now!


Chasing His Own Tale

Click Here to Buy Now!

Struck By Inspiration

Struck By Inspiration

Click here to Buy Now!

Steampunk Santa

Click here to Buy Now!

Bite Deep

Christmas among the vampires!

Click Here to BUY NOW!

Click here to buy NOW!

Cyber-pirates. Sort of.

Click here to BUY NOW!

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Reality TV...without the Reality!

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