Phew! What a weekend!
As usual, I'm doing a recap of the weekend all this week, but instead of covering day one, two and three in separate blog posts, I've decided to look at different aspects of the convention each blog post. Today, I'm talking about the selling and the community sides.
My first ever Can-Con was the most formative for me. It was there that I found the confidence to call myself an author, despite having only one title to my name, and a self-published one at that. Everyone there treated me as if I was, in fact, a writer. They were warm and welcoming, enthusiastic and respectful of the craft and towards those that partake in it.
I'm very pleased to report that it hasn't changed one iota. Everyone is still uniformly lovely and warm. It is always a joy to be at this convention, and I think, no matter where life may take me, I will always return to Ottawa to be at Can-Con.
Assuming life takes me anywhere, of course. I might just remain in Ottawa. Who knows?
Anyway, the point is, this is a fabulous convention. It's a great place to form strong networking bonds, bonds that spill over into genuine friendships, sometimes even mentorships. I consistently meet new and wonderful people.
For this reason, the mixing doesn't feel like "schmoozing." Which is to say, it doesn't feel slimy. It doesn't feel like people are only shaking your hand and smiling at you because they're wondering if being nice to you will advance their careers somehow.
I'm not saying that's the case at other conventions. I haven't ever been to other serious literary conventions outside of this one, so I'm no judge. However, starting out, that was one of my great fears; a fear I can safely put to rest.
There are many opportunities for writers of all stages and readers to mix and mingle. Bundoran Press hosted a fabulous book launch on the Friday night. Alas, I couldn't attend due to exhaustion and a desire to be mentally prepared for the funeral I attended the following morning.
Saturday night was a costumed Hallowe'en party. I attended only briefly. Again, exhaustion bested me. In my defence, it was a pretty harrowing day, what with the funeral and my first ever pitch in the history of my writing career (I'll go into that in the blog post about pitching).
I went as a vampire. Of course I did. Human released the same day. What else was I going to go as?
Many thanks to Tracey, who worked very hard to stuff me into that corset.
I put on the costume as soon as I finished my pitch, as I was so busy with panels I knew I wouldn't have time to do it after. Yes, I spoke on panels dressed as a vampire.
I take Hallowe'en very seriously...
I'm very sad that I was simply too exhausted to continue at the costume party. I stayed only an hour before I started to crash hard. I could barely keep my eyes open, and no, it wasn't the contacts.... which remain my favourite part about this costume, by the way! Great people were there and it would have been a great time. It was a great time for the hour I managed to stay.
Thanks to Cenk, who very kindly drove me home, sparing me a long bus ride.
As a convention to network and make friends with people who are as passionate about speculative fiction as you, this convention is second to none!
Selling at conventions like these is always a secondary consideration. That said, I can safely say that I almost always make the cost of the table back. At places like the small press book fair or at ComicCon, selling is the primary goal. I consider making my table back a success at any of these things.
For something like Can-Con, however, making my table back is not the goal at all. If it happens, it's a lovely bonus. The point of conventions like Can-Con is to make my presence known to the writing and reading community. It's to attend panels and learn, to improve the craft and discuss the challenges.
That is what Can-Con is for.
Being able to sell is really just a side-thought for me. This year the sales were slower than last year, but I still managed to get my table back, and attend all the panels I wanted, and pitch my manuscript to two publishers.
That said, trying to pitch and attend panels AND sell is quite stressful. I'm very fortunate that I was placed beside the genuinely wonderful JenEric Designs, who helped keep an eye on my table while I was gone... and I was gone an awful lot.
Thank you so much, guys. I heart you!
For those writers who have a few books to sell, certainly get a table a your local convention. Do start selling, but bear in mind that selling is not the goal of these conventions. The goal is, and should be, to meet new, wonderful people, to learn the craft, the business and the process of writing.
Tomorrow, I'll talk about the panels at Can-Con.
Until then, I have a tonne of work that needs doing now that I'm back from the con.
Reminder: Human was released on Hallowe'en. Those of you who have pre-ordered the eBook should have had it delivered to your devices already. Paperbacks are on their way. If you missed out on the pre-order but want a copy, click HERE for your purchase options.