First was Origins Game Fair, where I was a guest of The Library. The Library is a collection of writers handpicked by Jean Rabe who teach writing seminars, participate in their anthology project, and sell books. It's filled with luminaries such as Mike Stackpole, Aaron Allston, Timothy Zahn, Gregory A. Wilson, Jennifer Brozek, Steve Saus, Don Bingle, Sarah Hans, and a dozen others.
It was a fantastic time and I learned much as a writer, a bookseller, and as a person. I also met a lot of fantastic people (see the list above, plus some) and interacted with a lot of people interested in being writers and I did my best to keep them on their path.
As soon as I got back I did a pair of hometown signings at The King's English Bookshop (where I read the first two chapters to a rapt audience) and another at Dr. Volt's Comic Connection.
With less than a week for a break, I was off again to the first ever Denver Comic-Con, where I broke my record for books sold and signed in a three day period.
I also ran into this guy dressed as the Goon:
And these guys dressed as the Green Goblin and Kraven the Hunter:
I also met a lot of fans, old and new. Perhaps one of the most satisfying moments was when a gentleman came to my table, bought a book, and asked to shake my hand, thanking me for my years of Star Wars journalism. He, too, was a fan of the prequels and my articles helped him realize that he really is part of a silent majority.
Operation: Montauk also got another review, this time over at The Huffington Post:
The characters are well thought-out and developed with interior lives and histories that indicate Mr. Young's dedication to researching the various timelines they came from, and in the case of the spaceship-traveling pair, making up believable but fantastic details.
I learned a lot about what you should have ready at signings and convention appearances and I wanted to pass some of it off to you writers out there:
- Have a giveaway item. It will help you sell books. My freebie for these conventions were small fold-over and stapled booklets that contained a short story from Man Against the Future and the first chapter of Operation: Montauk. It also served as a business card, having my website, pictures of my other books, a picture of me, and my bio inside. I gave away fifty at Origins and it wasn't enough, so I doubled my order and I brought a hundred to Denver Comic-Con. It still wasn't enough, but by the last day of both cons, I had people coming back to pick up copies of the books because they liked the sample so much. And digital sales of my stuff has spiked since the conventions as well, my guess is people liked the sample after the convention and decided to buy later.
- Don't just sit there at your table. I sat behind my table at Origins, patiently waiting for people to come talk to me. I did alright at the convention, but I didn't make half as many connections or book sales as I should have. In Denver, I decided to change things up just to see how they'd play out. I spent the whole time standing, saying hello to everyone who walked by, and asking them if they were interested in hearing about the books. That one little change helped me more than triple my book sales.
Example: There was a table across from me with a pair of authors and they weren't selling any books, but they were just sitting there, smiling at people as they walked by. They left early every night, arrived late the next morning, and didn't even show up the last day. I guarantee I made out better than they did.
- Know your audience and your own work. Be able to adjust the synopsis of your book based on the person standing before you. Don't try to sell your book as something it's not, though. Be able to pitch it five different ways.
- Have a variety of work. I talked to people who didn't like science fiction, so I told them about Lost at the Con. I talked to people who didn't like either, so I pitched them The Colossus. Some were Vonnegut fans and interested in that kind of writing. The more variety you have, the better you'll do.
- Don't discount your book on the last day of a con. It's only going to piss off the people who paid full price previously.
- Smile. Be friendly. Be excited to be there. Even if somebody just walks right on by, a smile goes a long way to better the vibe of the whole place.
- Thank people who buy your stuff. These people can't buy everything from everyone who tells them about something at the convention. When they buy your book (or piece of art, or whatever) they've invested in you. If you give them a good experience, and make them feel good about it, then when they read the book and like it, you'll have them looking for your next book, too.
Hopefully those are some helpful tips for those of you who are about to go out and sell your book.
And if you feel so inclined, you should buy copies of my books, signed in the shop, on Amazon, or Barnes and Noble.