The Show must go on.

I know I didn’t Blog last week, it’s getting on to winter and Authors in the Northern hemisphere are preparing for hibernation. Today I’m going to talk about shows. My experience of Conventions and trade shows to be specific. I’ve done a few and it’s been a real blast I have to admit.

I was lucky again in that my partner has been trading on the Con circuit for the past few years and had a good idea of where to go. This past year my calendar has been split between Film and Comic, Sci-Fi and Literary Conventions. The events themselves aren’t hard to find on the internet and what you’ll likely find is that they a split between those run by a parent company and those run by a society group.

The company run events tend toward celebrity appearances and trade stalls, there will be contests and giveaways and (this is the important bit) footfall. These are the conventions where you can sell, independent authors don’t tend to pop up in numbers at these events but the people who go to them are fans, they watch, they read and, sometimes, they’re on the lookout for something new. Face to face engagement is a key tool, if the reader can see your enthusiasm for your story then they will be enthused too. Groups to search for include the likes of GoGeek and Show Masters.

Independent shows like Easter Con and Bristol Con are more literature oriented, you’ll likely meet other authors there and the Conventions include panels, readings and chances to showcase your work. Signing up for a panel is a chance to identify with a wider group of people, choose a subject that you’re familiar with and have a passion for. It might be a genre or a theme like representation in literature, whatever you choose you want to engage the audience but try not to overrule the other panel guests. Don’t be disappointed if you don’t get included on a panel first time around, the Con organisers likely want to get an idea of your character and material first. Some conventions might ask for panel suggestions as well, it’s a good place to meet like-minded or experienced people. If you can find opportunities to attend a panel you can get some really good advice from people in the industry or you might just get the validation that what you’re doing is right. At a literary meet your going to be showcasing your books against other authors but remember, it’s not a competition but there are some steps you can take to up your game. Banners are cheap and relatively easy to produce, with the skills you can learn in producing your cover you can put together a banner design and have it printed to catch the eye of passing readers.

It all goes toward building your readership and promoting your material. Building connections with readers and others in the industry is an important part of getting your stories into the hands of the readers who’ll appreciate them.

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