Lisa Manifold

Writing From the Top of the Street

Tag: Cons

Post Con Collapse

Two Conventions in less than 10 days. That’s what I did last week, folks. June 17-19 I attended Denver Comic Con (awwwweesome!) and then June 22-26, I flew off to Nashville for UtopiaCon 2016. Another awwwweesome.

While not everyone who reads this is an author, I wanted to share some of the wisdom I gleaned from these hectic ten days.

1. Plan in advance, and actually DO the things on your to-do list. Don’t wait until the last minute to get everything done. If you have to fly to a convention, make sure you have the right luggage to get your books, marketing materials and display items to the venue. Otherwise, you’ll end up scrambling for appropriate luggage and sweating over the weight limits.

You really don’t want to know how I know this.

2. Find the balance between taking too much, and not enough. It’s not easy – but talk to people who have done the event before. Look on Facebook. Is there a group for the people going? I was fortunate to find a group dedicated to authors heading to UtopiaCon. I didn’t really need to ask questions because so many other people did it before I even thought of any. But I did read the discussions and follow them, and it helped me tremendously in deciding what I needed to bring with me. When you have to travel to the venue, the logistics of what and how much to bring are paramount.

3. It’s okay to sell out of a product. I sold out of HEART OF THE GOBLIN KING, and I took orders for it. I added a small fee for shipping, and boom! Done! So bring the amount of product that works without hurting you logistically (thank goodness for Southwest and their two bag allowance!). You can still sell and be successful if you have overwhelming demand beyond how much product you have in hand that day.

4. Prep your display before you show up for the event. I hadn’t done any conventions as an author, and nothing on the scale of either of the two I attended. So I researched table set up, and made notes about what has worked for other creative people who are selling at these events. You know what? It worked. I found a great blog that broke down how people decide you’re not the artistic equivalent of a used car salesman. Set up your table beforehand and look at it as dispassionately as you can. Does it appeal? Is it cluttered? (Side note: Give yourself time to set up at the venue and eyeball your table as well. De-clutter. Make everything visually appealing. If you’re not sure, bring a friend for set up to help you look at your display objectively.)

It worked. BUT – and this is a big but – it’s work. You cannot spend the time and money that working conventions takes without committing yourself to hard work. Comic Con started on June 17, and I was home and done by June 27 with both cons, and I am EXHAUSTED. Be prepared for that. Have help so you can get something to eat and drink, and the ability to go to the bathroom. These things matter as much as anything else you do, people!

5. Come up with a one line description for your work. People are moving by. They don’t want to stop and hear the entire 5 page synopsis. Make it quick, intriguing, and snappy. What would interest you as a potential reader? That’s how I developed my descriptions.

6. Don’t hard sell. People don’t mind being sold, in my opinion, if you lead them to it logically, and without a baseball bat. No one likes the used car salesman. Don’t be that guy for your book. People will nod, take your swag, and scurry away, sorry they made eye contact. That’s not the kind of impression you want to leave with them. Practice how you’re going to talk to people. This is important if you’re not really a people person. Let’s face it, writing/creating is a solitary profession. So if you’re not comfy with it, stand in front of a mirror and practice.

That leads to my final takeaway-

7. Always put yourself in the place of your audience.

I’m a reader. Most authors are readers as well. It’s part of why we write – we want to transport others as we ourselves have been transported. So what would work for you, as a reader? What sort of table display at a convention would draw you in? What kind of chat from the author would inspire you to take a chance on an author you aren’t familiar with?

What would turn you away? Think about what sort of message you like to see from those selling a product, and what works and doesn’t work for you, as the audience.

I find that if I think of my audience at all times, I tend to do things that they like. Because they’re things that I, as a reader and a fangirl of various fandoms, like.

You do all these things, and you’re probably going to have a pretty fantastic time. No voice at the end of it, but who cares? You had fun losing it!

Denver Comic Con 2015 Deets!

StandupAdLMM1DCC2016 is here! I’m really excited, because I have a lot of fun planned for this coming weekend. (See the standup in this post? You could be here, with Brennan, all posable-like, canoodling….)

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WORK! I mean to say, WORK! No fun! No fun will be had at ALL!

So, I’ll be at a booth all weekend, signing copies of Three Wishes and Heart Of The Goblin King! Both of which are making their print debut at DCC2016! You can find me in Booth AA11, and this really lovely interactive SITE will help you to find the booth!

When I’m not in my booth, this is my schedule:
(Also found HERE)

I hope to see you all this weekend! Come out and see a really amazing Con!

SPEAKER AT SESSIONS
Revisiting Neverland – YA Lit, Fairy Tales, and Gender Roles
Jun 17, 11:45am – 12:35pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors
Lisa Manifold
Jun 18, 11:00am – 12:00pm MDT
Author’s Alley AA20
Self-Publishing: Is It For You?
Jun 18, 1:30pm – 2:20pm MDT
Room 502/503 – Literary / Authors
Fan Fiction – The Real Extended Universe
Jun 18, 6:00pm – 6:50pm MDT
Room 506/507 – Literary / Authors

StarFest 2016

My Starfest 2016 Schedule!

So see the clicky linky above? Click it! You know you want to! CLICK IT! I’m so excited about this. For the first time ever, I’m attending a Con not just as a fan (although you can be sure I checked the schedule for things I want to go see), but as a panelist.

Starfest is an established sci-fi convention here in Denver. It’s one of the first conventions I went to. I always have a lot of fun. It’s not huge, not like Dragon Con, or Denver Comic Con, but I like going to a smaller convention. I like being able to take the time to talk to people. Starfest is where I met one of my favorite writers, who also happens to be local. (Mario Acevedo, in case you were wondering.) We talked about steampunk, both the costuming aspect, as well as whether or not to write it. It was fantastic, and a wonderful way to put one’s toe into the world of conventions.

It’s also family friendly. As my kids get older, we’ve started to introduce them to cons. One loves it, one is rather ‘meh’ about it. I’m good with that. A fifty percent ratio isn’t bad. I appreciate it when the cons do things to include and involve the kids. It’s good business, too. All us older nerdy folk are going to keep getting old. Start ’em young, and you build an attendee for life.

The ‘nerd culture’ has been in the spotlight over the past couple of years. I’ve seen some of my favorite cons explode from an attendance standpoint, as more people come to see what all the fuss is about. A lot of them keep on coming.

Why?

Because cons rock. Seriously. They do. I love to costume, and I love love love talking costume with other people who love to costume. #1 thing I’ve learned? Costume for comfort. Do your housecleaning in your costume. If you can’t get your work done, mod your costume. I am not joking. Nothing sucks worse than planning to be out, on your feet, probably sweating, for ten hours, with a costume that is not comfy, not movable/breathable, or one that you’re constantly futzing with. LOL, I’ve learned this the hard way.

If there is a movie, TV show, pop culture thing, book-anything that has a fandom – you can find a con where your fellow fans will be. Trust me on this one. I have a friend who loves Korean pop. He goes to panels about that exact topic at one of the cons I attend. I didn’t even know it was a thing, but it is.

I’m a fan of so many things-Harry Potter, LOTR, Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Supernatural, All Things Joss Whedon With Special Love To Firefly/Serenity, steampunk crossover for ANYTHING-you get the point. I have costumes that fit into all but two of the above listed fandoms. Cons are a great place to dress up, show off the thing you geek out over, meet like-minded folk, meet authors, learn new craft skills (I went to a panel, and then every panel thereafter from a presenter at Anomaly Con who gave up so much knowledge on steampunk costuming that I use to this day…she was brilliant) and have fun.

So if you’re looking for something to do, come by. It’s an easygoing convention. There’s plenty to do – in addition to the fan traks at Starfest, they also have Horrorfest, and ComicFest. My little guy wants to go to Horrorfest so bad. He’s already a HUGE horror fan. (As in, his Halloween costume last year was Jeff the Killer. I was sure a visit from CPS was heading my way.) But he’s only 9, so we’re easing into the horror.

Plus, I’m working this weekend. Come see me.

Post Con – The Mondayest Tuesday

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So it’s the dreaded post Con. Blech. It’s always a let down. I love Dragon Con. I get to see friends I don’t see most of the year, and go to panels that are talks by actors I love, or meet authors I fangirl over, or craft panels that discuss various aspects of writing and the business therein. Such was the case this year. I hate to see it end. Plus, my costumes were kick-ass. More on that later.

My husband and kids are the sweetest. My husband said, It’s good to have you back, and both kids wanted to snuggle a little extra last night because they missed me. The feels, ya’ll.

On to business. One thing I noticed is that there is a divide still regarding self-publishing, and that makes me…verklempt. Self-publishing is a good thing for ALL. If you publish traditionally, you have options, and the freedom to look to other avenues if your publisher is not doing right by you. I know it’s not that easy, but it’s an option, and ten years ago, it wasn’t. Options are good things, regardless of whether or not you take them.

As an indie author, I was unhappy and annoyed to see the large swath of opinions re: self-publishing dependent upon the programming track I went to. I attended a panel on marketing via the Electronic Frontiers Forum, and it was excellent. Even though there were folks were working within the traditional system, they were happy for options. In the Writers’ Track, it didn’t seem to be the case. There was what seemed to me to be a more negative mindset about the indie publishing industry. I have, in the past, asked for more self-publishing focused panels, and I suppose this technically met the bill – but it sure didn’t stick to the premise of helping people understand their options.

Let me lay it out for you. The gatekeepers have shifted. It used to be if you wished to call yourself an author, you had to find someone to let you in. Now, you can walk yourself through the gate, and get to the garden on your own.

Do you need to be as professional as possible? Yes, indeed. Get an editor. Get a beta reader. If you are not seriously skilled at graphic design, hire a cover artist. Check the contracts with all these folks, and READ THEM. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to. One of discussions I saw that all participants felt passionately about was regarding cover art. Do you own the art, or do you merely license it? What rights does the artist, the creator, have in regards to further use of your cover? It’s something to consider. It’s taking IP and who owns what to a deeper level.

The thing about doing it yourself is that you do it ALL yourself. But to me, that’s the best thing about it. You do it all YOURSELF. See the difference there? I’m a closet control freak. I like to be in charge. Yes, I admit it. Of my work – I definitely want to be in charge. I want to make the calls for me. Will I screw up? Probably. We all do as we are learning.

The best part of Cons for me are meeting people like you. After one of the craft panels I went to, I was talking to one of the presenters, and they suggested we repair to the bar to continue the conversation. It was an amazing hour, talking craft, word count, genre, business, marketing, price – I am so very thankful that this person took the time from their schedule to help along someone who has lots of questions. That meeting alone left me with a professional high that hasn’t worn off yet.

We’re a solitary lot. We sit in front of our screens, and let the creativity flow from our head to the same screens. That’s awesome for your readers, but you need to get out from behind the screen, and talk to other people like you. Go hang out in a place where there are TONS of people who are just as nerdy and passionate as you are about stuff.

And for me, it solidified my thoughts on being an indie. Last year, I was at Con as someone who hadn’t yet published. This year, I have three books out. My perspective has changed slightly, from how I listen to what I’m hearing. But my thoughts on this path haven’t.

Why? Because I have looked at the options, talked to people on both sides of the options available, and still feel this is the best option for me. That’s the hard part – figuring out which is the best option for YOU. The more I explore, the more I feel this is it, and I’m where I ought to be.

If it weren’t for self-publishing, I wouldn’t have these options, and I can tell you I probably wouldn’t be where I am. I could be somewhere better, or worse. I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be here.

I just got the trade copies of all three of my books this week. Come back from Con, and books are waiting. It doesn’t get much better. I’m headed to the RMFW Gold Conference this weekend, and I’m really excited. That’s nothing but writers, and people at all stages of the business. The potential to meet and talk and learn is enormous. Explore other options, hear things that have worked for others and see if they might work for me.

There’s always something to be learned – and now, like I mentioned, we as authors have OPTIONS. Seek them out. See what resonates with you. Try out some of the options. You may fail, you may not. But you won’t know unless you explore – and having self-publishing as one of those options is a good thing.

That’s the takeaway I’d like to see – that sure, you can self-publish – but here are the pros and cons, and here are the pros and cons of publishing traditionally. Weigh them, and see what’s best for YOU. Not me, or anyone else. Once you hear that, weigh it. What can you live with? What do you think will be your struggles? For me, it’s solidifying a marketing plan, and time management. I’ve been trying to write this damn post all day and keep having distractions. *What? A squirrel??!! Quick! Let’s go – oh, look, fun FB post!*

It seems to be an either/or with some factions on both sides, and while I am passionate about my decision, it’s MY decision. There is no other option for me that will be the best. Having the ability to discover that and see what will work best for you is truly marvelous, and one of the things I feel makes this such a great time to choose to write as your career.

And now, in a totally unrelated subject, most of the costumes I wore this weekend. I need to snag one other pic because it’s my interpretation of Dean and Sam’s Impala, and who doesn’t love Baby?

Until then, I give you the Tardi Sisters and the 7th Doctor, me as Potassium in the Parade of Elements in the DC Parade, and my Battle of the Planets/G Force/Gatchaman Joe/Jason the Condor costume. (I love this costume beyond belief. I would call it George if it didn’t already have a name.)

Now get to work.

thedocntardis fabana sapfab

lisajason

One week to go.

Until Dragon Con, that is. Not anything on the radar of most of America, I’m sure. But for the geeks in the crowd – It’s Nerdi Gras, baby!

On deck are the Tardis costume – along with the lovely Sap, of course.

CThomasHowell

I do not believe there will be a C Thomas Howell in the offing this year, however. Sadly. BTW, how is it the guy looks even better older than he did younger? Or is it that I am just older? Nah. Never mind. Not going there.

I’m testing three new costumes. One is my Chiquita Banana, which I will be rockin’ for the DC Parade, in the Parade of Elements group. As Potassium, the banana is a must.

Then I am trying out my Supernatural Baby costume –  I’ll post pics.

Finally, there is my awesome, amazing, fantabulous incredible G Force Costume. I’m Jason/Joe (what his name is depends on when you watched it). I have the boots and gloves, and am waiting on the dress and cape. Got the helmet and other accessories.

helmet

Just to give you an idea of the amazing awesomeness.  The entire costume looks like this:

charactor_joecondor0

Except I’m wearing a dress instead of that unrealistic body suit. So I’ll post pics of that too.

And in honor of the one week countdown, I’m getting things done. All the house stuff, kid stuff, groceries, schedules, NEWSLETTER!, and books. Yeah. Two books out this week – One Night At The Ball is live now, and Casimir’s Journey on 8/31. In print, even. I’m all sorts of motivated.

Now I gotta go find a hat for my banana.

Havin’ an adult beverage…

tumblr_m6wh7b2bV91rziwwco1_500 In March-ish, I laid out a schedule for myself. I had just left my job, and was looking to validate my decision (with the full support of Awesome Husband) to write full time. It was S-C-A-R-Y.

So off I went on my lists, and May, August, and November were set for the first three books in Sisters Of The Curse (it was at that point referred to as ToTT – Tales of The Twelve). I even had the names, although I will admit I played around with book titles a little, just to see if I liked something else better. I didn’t.

Here’s what I actually accomplished.
May – Thea’s Tale (Book One)
June – Three shorts in the Pen Name – approximately 30k words
August – One Night At The Ball (a SOTC novella)
Casimir’s Journey (Book Two – with Amazon now, out 8/31)
Part Four of the Pen Name series

And…uh…four newsletters for the writer’s org.

I am SOOO looking forward to September. I have a newsletter, as I always do. But other than some Pen Name thoughts – a new series, I’m thinking…we’ll see. New MC is in her infancy right now. I don’t have a ton scheduled.

Good thing – I have Dragon Con (WOOOOOOT!)

ringo

And then the Gold Conference for RMFW.

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So September is a busy month. Almost as busy as the gifs in this post.

But I’m really pleased because I set a goal in a field that for me, up until this year, had been a hobby. I have all three of my works on Amazon right now, and there are people other than my mom who are getting them, and ENJOYING them. It’s nothing short of astounding, and incredibly humbling.

Today, I slept in after doing the morning-drop-off stuff, and I feel like a nearly new person. I’ve hit my deadlines, and I’m not in the weeds, for the most part.

It feels good, and today, on a Friday, that is something to celebrate.

So have an adult beverage, and put your feet up. For the night.

At a crossroads

So I have finally finished Book One of the Saving Sylvah series. THE SEARCH is done. Not only is it done, it’s edited. A LOT. It’s been an amazing process, learning how to get my story out better.

I’ve been basking in the ‘It’s Done!’ of it all, and then this week, started thinking about Book Two, as of yet unnamed, I struggle with titles, btw. I don’t feel like there’s a clever bone in my body when it comes to trying to appropriately title my work. Anyway, back on topic here. I’m thinking about Book Two.

My problem is that I am thinking too much. To the point where I am pulling over while driving and making notes on the phone. LOL, I could do it via voice, but my phone is really bad getting my voice sometimes. The few emails I’ve sent have scared the recipients, so pull over and write it down it is.  There are so many ways I could go, as I added a different ending to B1 than I originally planned on.  Where to take it?

The best thing is that I have already found my tension-maker. One of the things that will string the story along a fine line throughout the whole book. And when it came to me, it was like “BAZINGA!” because I just KNEW I would like to read this if it were someone else’s work, and it would be something I could keep on with til the end.

I dunno what it is. I was really feeling in the weeds and behind the eight ball and all the other struggling to get done cliches before the end of the year, and now, I am feeling like I am actually getting shit done.

Well, I am behind on my critique group. *sigh* And my costuming. Anomaly Con is a couple of months away and I have some of the necktie corset to finish, and the Cthulhu fascinator to finish as well. My tentacle fingers are nearly done, I just need to put the gear suckers on them. I’ll need to see how the blouse looks. I also need to do my Leia steampunk headgear. I feel like I’ve really gotten far away from my cons and costuming, and while I adore writing, and feel so good, I adore the costuming. This one is probably the costume that will have taken me the longest, other than my Inara gown.

So while writing is going along, I suppose the worrier in me can be at ease with the fact that of course there’s more to do, LOL.

Goal for this week – decide on the outline for B2, get the critique inbox cleared, and figure out what to do with the tentacle fascinator.

Now THAT’S a To Do list.

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