C h a z z W r i t e s . c o m

Write and publish with love and fury.

10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

Book Signing Setup

Guest post by Armand Rosamilia

Cthulhu and MeI’ve been to a few conventions in my time. Over the years I’ve been a vendor, a guest and a Regular Joe who paid to get in with the rest of the commoners.

My favorite conventions are the ones where I can not only be a panelist, but a vendor as well. Earn back a few bucks while chatting with other panelists and audience members and be able to afford a drive-thru fast food lunch on the long ride home after the con.

So, in no particular order… here are 10 Things I Know About Cons As A Vendor

  1. I like a full table.

At conventions I often see authors setting up to sell their two releases, and they spread them across the table. Three feet for one book and the other half of the table for the other, with nothing fancy to get me to stop and look. Heck, a lot of authors/vendors don’t invest in a few bookstands. I have 45 different print releases I can bring to a convention. I usually don’t do it. But I bought two really cool book racks, which hold 16 books to display on each. I stacked them one on top of the other… and Special Gal said it was too high and looked ridiculous. I kinda agreed. I think you need to have a good balance of too much stuff for the potential customer to look at and not enough. I put bookmarks, business cards, stickers for the Authors Supporting Our Troops event, and hide the bags of M&M’s behind the displays. Those are not for the customers.

  1. I know I always bring too many books with me.

For some reason I’m praying four crates of books will magically sell out for me. At Imaginarium I brought 289 copies in total. I sold 10. It was still a lot of books to carry back to the car on Sunday afternoon. But when/if it ever happens… ahh, Sweet Victory! I can throw the empty crates at passersby and go inside a fast food restaurant and not only order off the dollar menu.

  1. I had a banner made.

OK, technically Special Gal had it made, but it has my name on it. I used it at Imaginarium and it got a few looks and responses. It is my Dying Days zombie series (the main books, at least) and I already have plans to do future banners for future conventions. OK, fine… Special Gal is doing it.

  1. Don’t sit behind the table like an idiot.

I have an outgoing personality. I also worked retail for twenty-plus years. I enjoy interacting with someone with money in their pocket and/or hand for some reason. I find myself sitting behind the wall of books and talking to everyone around me. I need to stop doing this. At Imaginarium I rarely sat down. I stood next to the table and talked to potential customers wandering the aisle. I think in an established convention (with aisles filled with customers) I need to do this to actually generate sales.

  1. People rarely carry cash.

Or if they do, they don’t want to part with it. I used to get the old ‘I don’t have any cash on me’ excuse. Now I use a Square for my phone. Actually, Special Gal does. I can’t figure it out. But you can use a credit card and then you have no lame excuse why you won’t buy my brilliance that is the written word.

  1. Be good with names.

I really suck at remembering people’s names in a large crowd. And the convention lanyards hang too damn low on someone, so I’m staring at some dude’s lower abdominal area or a woman’s vajayjay (I’m actually doing the latter and using the badge as an excuse). I have a uniquely sexy look, let’s be honest. But I also post a ton of current pictures on Facebook, so people know what I look like. The worst is meeting a fellow author who knows you and starts chatting like you know their avatar of a cat is really them. But then, when you find out who the hell they are, try to remember it. Especially when you’re taking a picture with them and want to tag them on Facebook.

  1. Make sure you have an idea ahead of time where the good food is being sold.

I hadn’t had White Castle in a dozen years before Imaginarium. It was a priority to find one, and we did. A couple of miles from the hotel. Pure heaven. There is nothing worse than going to a strange city and not being able to find good food, or have to rely on the hotel bar/restaurant for all your eating needs. Google that bitch, yo. And don’t judge me for eating White Castle.

  1. Find out what vendors are around you.

There’s nothing worse than being around someone playing music or someone who is so damn boring you’re afraid you’ll fall asleep. Or some idiot who claims you owe them money or wants to tell you stories about the Golden Age of publishing and then show you pictures of their cats. I am not an animal person. I also don’t owe you any money. The cool vendors around you will be fun to hang out with and talk to. They will also try to take your M&M’s, so please be careful.

  1. You’ll meet cool people you knew from MySpace.

I met a couple of fellow authors I’d known online for many, many years. It was cool to finally meet them and cool to see they (like me) were still doing their thing. Too often, writers come and go like the breeze. I’m not sure what that analogy means, so we’ll move on. It is fun to finally sit down and talk to them and realize they aren’t as odd as you thought they were online. They are even weirder.

  1. Be yourself.

No one likes a douche bag. Seriously. No matter how big and important you are, remember one thing: you’re not. I know I come off like a pompous jerk at times (and a sexy humble bastard as well), but I also have fun with all of this. I wake every day and thank my luck I get to write for a living. I used to have this other persona which I thought would make me cool and people would love me. It didn’t work. So now I’m just myself. And it works. Be genuine. Talk to customers and other authors. Have fun at conventions. Sell some books. Network. And stay away from my M&M’s.

~ Armand Rosamilia is the author of Dying Days and too many other books to name. Check out everything Armand at http://armandrosamilia.com

 

 

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Writers: Who do you want to be?

Ever been to a writer’s conference or a Comi-Con? Both kinds of conventions have something in common: Lots of people who wish they were someone else. The exhibitionist dresses as Poison Ivy (and has very close friends willing to paint her ass green.) The twenty-something is dressed up as a sad Autobot made of cardboard. The writer wants to be an author. Of these three examples, it’s the writer who can do something more concrete and lasting about his or her ambition. 

I feel self-conscious, uncomfortable and sometimes a little claustrophobic at these events. Mainly, I’m acutely aware of the Us and Them aspect of the relationship. The “celebrities” are over there, with security, publicists, handlers and an aura of wary separation. We “wannabes” and fans are in the pit, reaching up, grasping at the edges of dark holes, daring to touch the light in search of heat.

We yearn. We have not attained.

As writers, we want recognition of our work. We want privileges and respect, too. That power is illusory, sure. Knowing intellectually how fleeting and useless it is doesn’t make that goal any less tantalizing. As powerless as writers are in so many ways, the indie author feels his or her potential most. That’s the power of seething delusion transmuted into hope by our next great idea for a book. Art seduces its creator first. Indie authors have few barriers to publication and little time to wait. All that kinetic potential can make you high. Unrealized potential can make you angry.

It’s not jealousy that gives me this grim face. My annoyance is at myself. I’m bothered that I didn’t plan out my life in such a way that I am who and where I want to be. I’m not a “wannabe.” I’m a “shouldabeenbynow”. I want to be comfortable being me. I don’t want to stand on the outside of that metaphorical velvet rope, wishing I were someone suffering the problems that success brings. I want it all and, as Queen sang, I want it now.

Someone will tell me I should be happy with who I am. Bullshit. From where, then, would my ambition come? Needing to escape makes me try. I yearn for that addictive, dopamine-fueled floating sensation that comes with the composition of new life. I long for happy readers extolling me for aping God. Sharing entertaining stories with huge numbers of readers gives me stamina for the late night attack on that difficult, late middle in my manuscript. Greed and ego give me patience for solving seemingly endless formatting problems.

Let’s be clear: Wanting things is not the path to enlightenment. That’s okay. I’m not on the path to enlightenment. I’m on the path to publication. 

Some people say greed and ego and recognition are unworthy stimulants to propel you on your course. I say, take your motivation where you find it and go forward, self-aware and honest. Clearly, I’m not in the spirit of these events. I’ll go to these things again when the organizers ask me to sit on a panel. I’ll enjoy it much more when there’s someone excited to speak with me, not the other way around.

Meanwhile, my place is at the keyboard

dreaming up the lies

that make me who I am supposed to be.

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Winner of Writer's Digest's 2014 Honorable Mention in Self-published Ebook Awards in Genre

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