Day One

cGJAACQThat… could have gone better.

Well, okay, that sounded negative.  Let me phrase it differently:  today was spectacular, except for the part where I sold zero books.

Zero.  None.  Bupkis.  Nada.  Less than one.  No books sold.

I did not drive here to sell no books.

I have entertaining stories.  I’m going to wait to tell at least one of them until I’m no longer in Indianapolis.  But a combination of a number of things appear to have killed me:

  1. It’s the first day of a three-day con.  I suspect that most of the folk who were at the con today have three-day passes.  They were, therefore, sitting on their wallets.
  2. I’m a complete unknown, and my work does not immediately scan as relevant to any particular fandom (for these purposes, science fiction is not a “fandom.”)

…actually, those are the only two things.  Now: for whatever it’s worth, I was keeping a very close eye on all the other vendors around me and everybody was selling shit today.  The Star Trek cosplayers two booths down made one sale that I saw.  The Dr. Who guy next to me made one sale– to a group of Dr. Who fanatics.  The author to my right made three, but she’s been coming here for years, hugged every person who came to her booth, because she knew all of them already, and made most of her sales to people who began their conversation with the words “Do you have anything new this year?”

So…no sales, but I’m not sweating it.  I talked to a lot of people, and had a bunch of them pick my books up and take long looks at them.  I’m certain tomorrow will be better.  If it isn’t I will cry.  Forever.

(This isn’t me giving myself a pep talk.  This is objective truth.  Timothy Zahn is here.  He looked bored to death every time I walked past him, and he didn’t seem to be selling much either.  If Timothy fuckin’ Zahn isn’t moving a lot of books, I’m not gonna do better.)

One other thing I underestimated: InConJunction is seriously a community.  The vendors all know each other, and even Dr. Who guy, who was at this con for the first time, had a mess of folks coming up to him and asking him if he’d been at other recent cons– he’s been on tour for a while and has been hitting bunches of them.  The lady next to me has been coming for years and appeared to be making sales to people she knew.  So it’s not just that I suck.

But tomorrow could still stand to go better.  🙂

9 thoughts on “Day One

  1. Adam Dreece

    Firstly, don’t let it throw you. Different vendors represent different stuff and mindsets. Also, watch the reactions of people as you talk. Get your pitch to autopilot so you can observe the whole thing. Find where they might disengage or where they love it (at which point you must stop talking!).

    Experiment and learn, that’s the only way.

    My first day of my first con was terrifyingly hard. Talk with some of the other authors, check out how they are organized. But here’s the biggest thing…

    If you’re sitting, you’re toast.

    You have to be standing, engage people. Try “May I tell you about my books?” That’s my line, and it’s a “no obligation” line that works.

    If you need anything, or even to event, you know where to find me.

    By the way, you will never have a first day at a con again. That’s now history.

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    1. Way I figure it is I may as well get the wipeout day out of the way early. 🙂

      I heard you in my head yelling “stand up!” all day. Problem is, there’s no damn room behind that table and I don’t know what else to do with the chairs. I think I’m getting rid of one of them tomorrow. We’ll see how it goes

      If I come back to this con, I’m getting a vendor table, too, not a Creator’s Alley table. The vendors have a bit more room and some breathing space on either side. The CA tables are jammed together and but up against each other– you can see my neighbor’s table in the picture I put up earlier.

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        1. Adam Dreece

          I’ve had “Small Press” tables mostly, by they are basically artist alley with a black backdrop.

          Grab one of the volunteers, give them the chair “There was an extra one at my booth.” And they will make it disappear. It’s like magic!!

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  2. I spent all afternoon at a very swanky school Christmas fête behind a table of books – including my first novel – by local authors. We sold books, but not one copy of mine. Watching what works and who buys was quite a useful experience, though a tad bleak.

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