June 17, 2019

Some Things I Learned from Galactic Con

I had a really fun time on Saturday at Galactic Con. The event went pretty well, although I think there are some simple changes which could make the next one even better. But even though there wasn’t the turnout I’d hoped for, overall, the event was a pretty big success.

If you saw my Instagram story with the photo of my suitcase, you know I brought an obscene number of books—way more than I needed. I would have liked to sell more copies at the con, but I made back my table fee and then some, which in itself makes a local event well worth participating in. But beyond the purely financial aspects of tabling at an event, I also met a bunch of creators and a few other authors. After spending much of the day chatting with a number of creative minds, I took away a bunch of interesting ideas which I will likely apply to future events. Here are some:

Wear blue lipstick and a nerdy corset

I’ve already embraced this to an extent with my (currently green) hair and robot leggings. Conventions are a great opportunity to really stand out and make unorthodox fashion choices. Tees and jeans are boring (unless your teeshirt has a sick custom graphic of a character in your book series). Don’t be afraid to wear something original, silly, or over the top. Of course, make sure you’re comfortable, but beyond that, have fun.

Don’t be afraid to bring a lot of stuff

Somehow, it had become a point of pride that I was able to fit my whole setup in a single rolling suitcase which I could bring in by myself in one trip. For some events where I have to fly out, or there’s no parking or loading close to the vendor hall, the one-suitcase setup makes sense. However, I’ve attended a few cons where I did bring multiple boxes of books which were too heavy for me to carry, and I had to rely on help from other people who were bigger and stronger than I am.

I particularly dislike being the ‘damsel in distress,’ so naturally as I wheeled my insanely heavy suitcase into the exhibit hall for Galactic Con, the wheels on the suitcase broke. The staff had a dolly and helped me move my injured luggage to my table. Then as I left, although I got the wheels patched up enough to roll my stuff back to my car, I couldn’t actually lift the case into the trunk. Again, someone saw me struggling as they drove by, parked next to me, and helped me get everything back into my car.

Although it sounds like the solution would be to bring less stuff, there’s no getting around the fact that I’m selling books and books are heavy. Clearly, my one-suitcase system is no longer working for me.

My display was also much simpler than many of the others, mostly due to the space restraints of my self-imposed one-box limit. However, with just me in the car, I have tons of space to haul stuff, and I even have a hand truck somewhere in my basement. I can upgrade my setup just by allowing myself to use multiple boxes and taking a few trips between my car and my table.

Use KDP print

Several self-publishing blogs and forums state that to be a successful indie author, you must print with Ingram Spark as they are the most ‘professional’ option. But the other authors I spoke with at Galactic Con all use KDP print since the company doesn’t have any setup costs, and in many cases have lower prices per book. My fellow writers weren’t particularly concerned about getting their titles into bookstores and libraries since both have very little payoff for a lot of work.

Do it because you love it, not to make a quick buck!

There are a number of ways authors and creatives have been able to monetize their passion. Although it’s important to be cognizant of marketing techniques, there’s no one-size-fits-all business plan. And at something like a convention, nothing sells better than a love of your creations and shared passion over fun nerd culture.

The next event on my calendar isn’t until September, but I want to sign up for some more between now and then. Each convention I’ve done has been a learning experience, and I’m looking forward to growing even more as an indie author.

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