Let’s Be Authors! – Making It at FanX 2018

My panel: The Rise and Fall of Sega. Had a good crowd and a great discussion.

I had a discussion years ago, actually on a road trip to Portland with my author gal pals, about when someone “Makes It” in this business of writing. What is the threshold? I mean, I’m sure that once you need a personal assistant or a publicist to do things for you, you have definitely “Made It” in some way or another. Just having enough to pay your car payment each month is a huge accomplishment. It’s a hard classification, because my internal view of being an author is not what is reflected in the external view to the reader.

So the idea of “Making It” is difficult. And as I really thought about it, it’s only important to one person. . . That’s me.

In all these years of being an author, I’ve never really felt that I “Made It.” I’ve taught classes and been on panels at different writing conferences, with really, really cool people too, by the way. But I didn’t feel successful, I kinda felt like I was a cool kid, but not a success. My audience is not my peers, so writing conferences are not the best place to sell books or engage with your audience. Online sales are difficult to judge, because I have no engagement what so ever. It’s all just numbers, not people. My books are very buried in the doldrums of Amazon, and only with promotion do my books get any attention.

Booth set up, Christine and Conor being cool.

But when I really feel like an author and really feel an impact of what I’m doing, is when I physically get to place a book in someone’s hands. I’m handing them an adventure, my adventure that I’ve created for them. And when I get to personalize it? It’s the best! Because I am offering a part of me in this book, a special message just for them. It’s a special feeling.

The Green Room offers the best view of dinosaurs.

FanX 2018 offers a great way to find your fan base and connect with readers one on one. It was a different experience this year than our other times at the Con Formally Known As Salt Lake Comic Con. In previous years, I had filled the booth with other authors – last year, we had NINE authors. My ideas were to give other people a chance to shine, and make back the cost of the booth, without thinking that I would profit anything. This made for a very crowded and stressful environment.

Me, with my boothmates, Ben and Christine.

This year, I decided to do things differently. I didn’t want to be stressed. I wanted to enjoy being at this con. It should be fun. So, I scaled it way down to working with only my closest and best friends in my writing circle: authors Christine Haggerty and Ben Ireland. Each of us write for a different audience, so no competition in sales, and also, we genuinely really want each other to succeed, so selling each other’s books was easy. It’s all about the reader. That is so important, the MOST important thing we did in the booth.

“Waiting for all my rabid fans to arrive.” – Christine

We got lucky booth 1203, a corner very close to the opening doors and main staircase. We set Christine and I on opposite sides of the corner and gave Ben the front corner spot (picture above), so every book had its own place to shine. We all had something new for our booth: Christine’s Middle Grade – Lucas and the House of Lies, Ben’s third in the Blacksmith Legacy – Billy Blacksmith: The Ironsoul, and my new poetry book – Wandering Beautiful.

“Uhura, from an alternate timeline, signing a Wandering Beautiful.” – Candace

Historically, we never sold very well on the first day. Most people were waiting to buy everything on the third day. I don’t know if it was the phase of the moon or something, but once those doors opened, people found us immediately and we started selling.

“FanX was an absolutely wonderful experience. Sharing with fans who really get a show generates an energy you can’t find anywhere else. And meeting Anna Graves was an incredible bonus. She struck me as a genuine fan, and she was wonderfully gracious.” – Ben (Photo by CB Lee)

Hands down, this was the BEST year at FanX. The crowd was amazing, we had exceptional stars (I witnessed Jason Momoa, he is real, we breathe the same air, and rotate around the same sun. . . ), but the panels were amazing. Both Ben and I got to participate on panels. My retrogaming panel went amazingly, but not as fabulously as Ben’s Voltron panel. And Christine cosplayed as her pocket pin-ups and drew quite the crowd, plus a free red top hat.

“Cute little Paige was the 60th Harley Quinn I counted at FanX and she got a free copy of Lucas and the House of Lies.” – Christine

We had fun. We were everywhere. But the best part was talking with fans, fellow creators, fellow readers, who were interested in getting to know us and know what our books were about. We were an impressive force. Many people asked about who we were, how we became a group in a booth, and other authors were anxious for a spot with us next year. I sold out of two titles as well, Ben sold out of his first title. We were not expecting to sell so much. I under-prepared for the crowd, because it’s hard to haul unsold books back. It’s discouraging. I have one, small box of books now sitting in my empty garage instead of several. I’m just still stunned and impressed.

Goofing off with Julie, who helped us Friday and Saturday.

I’ve had a few days to let things settle, but my glow has not faded. As I was driving in on Day 3 of FanX, it was a little cloudy, but the sun was peeking through little breaks, making gorgeous little spots of sun. I thought those lucky people may not even know they are in this spotlight right now.

Check out this guy, he bought Ben’s series and I totally stole a picture of it.

“Making it as an author is much like being in that spot of sun, not until it has passed can you see and recognize how truly beautiful it is.”

I felt the admiration from each person who purchased my books, and those buying my friends’ books. We all felt the energy, which brought us closer as a group. We were making a difference in their lives, even for a fraction of a moment, but it is imprinted on me forever.

“Me and the new Doctor. It was a great year.” – Candace

I feel invincible and ready for any challenge. I’m feeling creative and set to finish my book. To all my new friends that I met at this conference, thank you from ALL OF US! FanX has made me the author I had always felt I could be and I will forever be grateful for the opportunity to be in that spot of sun.

Let’s Be Authors! – Experiment #1

Experiment #1

Congratulations! You’re an Author! Now what?

This expression is felt by every author. The excitement. The thrill. The CULMINATION of the pinnacle of your creative expression bound and wrapped and now burning your fingertips, as an alive, breathing thing.

A BOOK!!!

It’s so beautiful. The perfect moment. And it truly is… a perfect moment, with the reverence, and silence, and noise, and wonderment. It is everything you hoped for and nothing you expected. The moment is totally worth it… but it all starts there. I know, you thought the hard part was over. Nope! Not even close.

All I could think about before publishing was PUBLISHING!

This is nature.
There was an envy I felt when I spoke to authors, you know, REAL AUTHORS. They had done it, so I knew it was possible. They had scaled the wall of the publishing world, like a ninja or at least maybe Spiderman, and knew what it’s like on the other side. How I dreamed to know what was on that spendiforous other side.
I’ve often described publishing like a door to a spectacular house. And so many people are trying to figure out how to get to the door, or open the door, navigating a way to the door – whatever and however they can. And it’s soooo exciting to open that door. Seriously! It’s a great feeling to push past all those others scrambling to get in, and you do. Finally!
And then you, yes YOU, are in the house. And what do you find on the other side of the door??
It’s a room packed full of authors – all searching for another door.

This is my dedication to the Door Openers

 

I will explain everything I’ve tried through a series of experiments. I have a scientific background and need logic and method when organizing my thoughts. I feel much like a trailblazer in my own publishing right, as I think, many authors feel. I had no compass and no guide to get where I have, so experiments were the best way to test the world I had ventured in. Not every author’s story starts with a six figure deal. Yes, I know some of them who have, but as lovely as that sounds, authoring comes with a set of hurdles every author faces – Relevance, Visibility, Validation, and most importantly, a Backlist. And I can’t say I clawed to recognition either, but tried, regardless of the blows that would come (and they came). Trying gave me experience and perspective. I tried and failed and tried again. It’s just an experiment.

Simple Scientific Method –

  • Come up with a hypothesis
  • Experiment
  • Analyze your findings
Simple. Some experiments worked better than others. Some were absolute dismiss failures. In a general statement, writing is a personal thing, being an author is public. It takes a lot of courage to first read or let others read your stuff, and when people have some type of critique, it can be difficult at first to take. When published, an author has to develop a tough skin, because all the critiques are on public display for everyone to read. In a sense, it’s the same with experimenting. There is excitement, trepidation, and recognition when something isn’t working and still moving on.
As the blog goes I will list a number of experiments, not in any specific order, I can’t keep track of all that, to highlight the “Success” the world sees and the failure an author feels.

And here, my Experiment #1 is this blog.

I don’t think it is necessary to rehash my first fleeting attempts to get published, but know they happened, over hard years of rewriting and rejection.
Scared little bird, aren’t I? Happily having no idea what I was doing. 1st Salt Lake Comic Con Sept. 2013
For me, being an author started after the hoopla died down from the first release of my debut novel with a publisher. I first published with a smaller publisher, not one of the big houses. I had no marketing team to help me. I quickly found out what I could do and couldn’t do in the publishing world. There are a lot of rules placed on publishing houses that are not part of the BIG SIX. And a secret world, run by the Illumanati, of rules, restrictions, and secret handshakes that the author is never a part of, and I learned every kind of rejection finding this out.
And you need to be really good, and freaking CHARMING, in order to get your books in stores. But, even then it was through consignment, because of rules. 
I learned over time about being present, actively participating in writing groups or conferences, return policies and book store signings, social FREAKING media, engaging an audience, outside book festivals, writing communities and leadership – and adding to that PTSD, getting over the insecurities and pretending to be someone I’m not, the idea that everyone will not read your books, and the expectation that everyone should… and so, so many battles and experiments that worked, failed, or failed in epic proportion… all just trying to get noticed. This, and more embarrassing or insightful hilarities to come.
But, beyond all that I have said, the point of LET’S BE AUTHORS! is to have fun, to see the you are not alone in the world of publishing, and to laugh at the pitfalls we all have. WELCOME TO PUBLISHING, PEOPLE!
I thought for kicks, I would add my post from the day I signed my contract with my publisher, from my silly, retired blog I had. You can see all the lights shining in my words, the brilliance of each sentence gleaning the possibilities of this strange, new world were I had no idea, no clue what waited for me. Thanks for joining me.

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2012

More Adventures in Awesomeness!!

News! News! News!

It’s never a boring time with me.  There is always something crazy happening in my life.  Besides stuffing myself like a Turkey Dinner this holiday, I also did something a little insane.

What could it be??? you ask….

Let’s take some questions from the audience…

  • Did you win the lottery?  sadly no, but I feel like I did.
  • Did you get your braces off?  – I WISH.  My news isn’t that cool, but on that note, they will come off in DECEMBER! Santa is delivering my Christmas wish a little early.
  • Did you finally get that gum out of the carpet?  Nope, but better than that – I REPLACED IT!

Have you given up yet??  No???

  • Did medical science decide to freeze my embryos for future generations to bask in the presence of awesome me?  Umm… no, but that would be cool.  And on that other note, no I’m not pregnant, but thank you for thinking that I could.
  • Did you get your midnight tickets for THE HOBBIT?  OF COURSE!! And my shirts are hot and ready to feel the magic, but that’s not it, though it’s cool too.

Oh…. did you give up? Fine, I will tell you.

I decided to try and get my book published and guess what?  It worked.  I am now a contracted author with Xchyler Pubishing. (it’s pronounced Skyler, for those of you who are thinking about some crazy baby name spellings).  I’m just getting started, but they are super excited to have me with them.

Next you’ll see my very own theme park in Florida.  Cool huh?

If you have read my story and know the genre, just take a look at the website and you’ll know my book is a perfect fit. http://xchylerpublishing.com/

Wish me luck!!!

 


With this blog I hope to highlight not just me, but other authors and what they tried, the different experiments we have tried to get our books in readers hands. It’s a humorous blog, though tongue and cheek, but it’s meant to enjoy and share the feelings us authors feel. I hope, also, to add a podcast as will, because authors are whores when it comes to talking about themselves and how they failed too.


Continue reading “Let’s Be Authors! – Experiment #1”

FanX 2017 – Supporting Local Fantasy Authors

Authors Rebecca Rode, Me, and Jen Greyson, with the talent Kermit the Frog and his handler (getting his name now)

 

Today, I’m reflecting on my past experiences as I get ready for another FanX.

Lissa (amazing editor) and I FanX 2014

My first FanX was an experiment. It was only me and my family and friends helping out. I was NOBODY – a fledgling author with one book and a BIG award. I coughed up the money (YIKES!) for a booth without any special discount beyond being a repeat vendor. (I think they were nervous it would suck.) Along with my book VIVATERA, and a short story in an anthology, I was eves away from my second book CONJECTRIX, being published. I met my editor for the first time – Lissa – and I was placed on the end RIGHT in front of Patrick Stewart’s and Karen Gillan’s line. It was hard, HARD work. I filled it with other Xchyler’s (my publisher) books, those who could participate, and did my best at selling them.

Xchyler Authors 2016: Jay Barnson, Scott Taylor, Ben Ireland, Jon Olsen, Sarah Seeley, and ME!

Last year, we collaborated as Xchyler authors, plus having our sponsor Kelly Olsen, in a booth together. We were generating some buzz at other conventions. Still hard work, but completely worth it. I got the chance to grow in friendship with some of these amazing people. The experience also set me in a new direction as an editor.

This year for FanX, I’m helping other authors get the chance to let their books shine by hosting a booth for Local Fantasy Authors. With both FanX and Salt Lake Comic Con, I have established relationships and respect within the community, something I feel very humble and honored to have. I get to participate again as a panelist and special guest at this convention. The idea still blows me away. But with that, I can help others make their mark in the community. Attending these conventions can be expensive, but the exposure is VITAL. And WOW I’ve got a great crew with me for this con.

The authors are:

Badges for the authors! AWESOME!

I’m incredibly impressed with the talent in our little booth. We have Amazon top sellers and award-winning talent, among some stunning new fiction. If you are in Salt Lake City attending FanX, we are in booth 721. If you don’t get the chance, check out the links and look at these wonderful authors.

FanX is so much fun – hard work, but so worth it. I can’t wait to be an author again.