Penned Con was my first ever authors/readers conference. Like most first times, you build it up in your head and it will either let you down or make you want to do it more. Can you guess what my experience was?
This is my post-PennedCon 2016 post. My reflections and thoughts. My observations and comments. My #adnauseam.
You’ve waited long enough…
It. Was. Overwhelming.
Two ballrooms filled with authors signing books, talking to fans (and soon to be fans), authors laughing, taking pictures, passing out bookmarks, chocolates, suckers, condoms, and much more. (Yes, you did read the word, condoms.)
I was nervous at the beginning to share with people that I’m joining their ranks as an indie author in about two months or so. But the outpouring of positive support and encouragement from the attendees made it much easier to pass out my business cards and to talk about Midnight Playground. I even showed a few the different cover mock-ups I had received. By the time I left the conference on Saturday, I felt confident and excited that I’m on the right track. And I passed out A LOT of business cards. It was good.
Some of the authors I spoke to at length were Emme Burton (St. Louis), Denise Grover Swank (from Kansas City area and a NYT and USA Today best selling author - over 2 million copies, WOW), and A.D. Ellis, (Indianapolis). Networking and building relationships is crucial to any industry whether you’re selling books or you’re selling soft drinks. I’m excited about the connections I made.
When I wasn’t wandering the ballrooms buying books, signing up for newsletters, picking up swag (you know, as in discreetly grabbing condoms from tables), and taking selfies, I was attending the various break-out sessions. I concentrated on the marketing topics, mostly. However, I did attend a compelling presentation on e-book/e-publishing by a representative from Smashwords. Fasc-In-Ating!
Anyhow, here are my bullet points from the marketing presentations:
One question which kept hitting me as I listened to the established authors and PR professionals presiding on the panel discussions was how does an author raise his/her discoverability? How will I attract readers? How will I rise above the noise? There is A LOT of noise.
How do I avoid becoming “new coke”? That slightly less tasty version of Coke. When there are a gazillion stories and millions of authors out there, why will someone choose to read my books? And why will they keep coming back?
In addition to my unwavering and unique ninja-like ability to utilize Catholic guilt over everyone I meet, I believe it has to be quality writing and quality storytelling.
You have to have a fresh, unique voice with characters that linger and stay with the reader long after they've finished reading. Otherwise you're New Coke or the generic store-brand soda with a bad aftertaste.
I don’t ever want to be New Coke. I'm hardly generic!
My major take aways are to keep writing my stories, to recognize I'm a publisher and in business, to apply marketing/sales strategies that work for me, and to not be afraid.
xx - SR
(Okay I made that last bit up about not being afraid. It sounded good. Like I read it on a daily calendar of affirmations and decided it should be in that sentence. Sort of fake it, till you make it. Truth is, I’m terrified but in an absolutely ironically happy, positively joyful way.)