Wednesday, September 30, 2015

How Attending a Comic Con Can Help You as a Writer


Jill Williamson is a chocolate loving, daydreaming, creator of kingdoms. She writes weird books for teens in lots of weird genres like, fantasy (Blood of Kings trilogy), science fiction (Replication), and dystopian (The Safe Lands trilogy). Find Jill on FacebookTwitterPinterest, or on her author website.

I'm home from my second visit to Salt Lake Comic Con, and I'm a bit wiser than I was last year. Comic Con is huge, so much fun, and a little overwhelming at times for an introverted writer like me. Sitting in my booth for three days straight was enjoyable but tiring, and by the time Saturday afternoon rolled around, I was counting the hours until the event ended. I decided to share with you all how attending a comic con event can help you as a writer.



Dress Up in Cosplay
This one doesn't really help you so much as an author, but it's a lot of fun. You could dress up like one of your characters and have cards ready to hand out if anyone asks who you are. Or you could take the time to dress up in something really popular so that a lot of people will ask to take pictures of you or with you, and then you could hand out your author card. Or you could just do all this for fun and forget the marketing side of things.

Get a Table and Sell Books/Hand Out Swag
There are usually several options for vendors at a comic con event. Author Alley is often the most inexpensive option. You'll likely get a six-foot table, two chairs, and no backdrop. Vendor booths cost more but you have more space. I've had both and I preferred the vendor booth, though I didn't sell enough books to cover its cost. If you have a good salesperson who you can bribe to come work your booth for free entry, bring them! I'm a terrible salesperson and can use all the help I can get.

Walk Around and Sell Books/Hand Out Swag
It never occurred to me to do this, and since I hate selling books, I likely never would. But this woman came up to my table at comic con. I saw the pin she was wearing which said, "Ask me about my new book." So I asked her. She told me about her book, which is a spiritual picture book she self-published that is made up of landscape pictures she has taken on various journeys around the world. She told me that she has sold some 300 copies by hand, and that she has met all of her buyers face-to-face. While this method is not for me, I thought it was interesting and asked if I could share her picture with you all.



Walk Around and Meet Other Authors
You can go to comic con to network. It's a great place to meet other authors and talk. This can be more difficult for famous authors, but I did get a chance to meet Brandon Sanderson last year and David Farland this year. If I was attending the event just to network, I know I could do even better. You could jot down a list of questions, show up at the time when authors are at their booths, then ask a question or two. If they are autographing books, it would be good form to buy a book while you are holding up their line with your questions. And never hold up the line for too long. At least not if you want them to remember you fondly. ;-)

Attend Panels and Meet Panelists
There are often a few dozen panels on writing and publishing at a comic con. You can really learn a lot at these panels. I have been very impressed with the caliber of authors who contribute their time on panels. There are panels for other things too, like TV shows, movies, fandoms, and famous people. This year Brad and the kids went to the Jenna-Louise Coleman panel and to the Anthony Daniels panel. They enjoyed both very much.

Also, sometimes editors and agents sit on these panels. You can not only try and ask a question at the end of the panel, you can wait for the panelists to head out of the room and introduce yourself. I've heard of many authors who have pitched to editors and agents at cons. You never know. You just might sell your book!

Sit on Panels
If you can work your connections right, you might someday be able to be a panelist. This means you would get to contribute your wisdom and opinions on whatever topic the panel was about. It's a pretty fun thing to do, especially when you get to sit next to Kevin J. Anderson. If you do get the chance, remember, the panel is about a subject, not you. Listen, share when you have something helpful to say, keep it short, and respect the other panelists by not hogging the mic! Be friendly and have fun.

Here are this year's highlights in picture form. From left to right, top to bottom: the kids in my booth, me introducing Robo the robot dog at the Fairy Tales panel, Me and David Farland, me and Kevin J. Anderson on the Outlinging vs. Discovery Writing panel, me and a reader, Kaitlyn and me with Star-Lord and Groot, a weeping angel with a Blink YA Books tote bag, my autograph from David Farland, Kaitlyn and some minions, and a double book signing with James Dashner and Brandon Mull. No, I did not wait in line to meet these fellows as the lines were each at least 300 people long!





Also, yesterday was the official release day for Tinker, the first RoboTales book, so I'm giving away one paperback copy. If you have little brothers or sisters at home or enjoy books for younger readers, here's your chance to get a copy autographed by me and Luke! Enter on the Rafflecopter widget below. And if you don't win, keep this book in mind for a Christmas present for the young reader in your life.


16 comments:

  1. I've never been to a Comic Con, but it sounds like a lot of fun! I am going to a writers conference in a couple of weeks, though.

    Congrats on releasing Tinker!

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    1. Oh, have a wonderful time at your writer's conference, Linea. I love comic cons, but writers conferences will always be my favorite.

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  2. I've never been to Comic Con, but these are really good tips! Will have to keep in mind...Comic Con sounds totally exhausting and overwhelming, but also gratifying.

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  3. I wanna go to a Comic Con so bad it hurts. I don't really even consider the how-it-could-help-you-as-an-author bits; I just want to go for the cosplay and the experience of being surrounded by people even geekier than I am. (And stars, yes, would I cosplay- I need excuses to dress up. Seriously. I don't get to do it half as much as I'd like to. Or even a quarter as much.) But these are very good points, and I'll have to keep them in mind.

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    1. I'm sure you will find one to go to, Sarah. It is a lot of fun, especially if you don't have the added pressure to be "working."

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    2. Though to some, this type of "work" isn't really work at all.

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  4. This is so fun, Jill! I wish we lived close enough to each other that we could go to something like this together. Then we could be introverted and not sales-y together ;)

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    1. Me too, Steph! I met a man who was gathering author info for the Kansas City Comic Con next August. He said he would email me when he has his information up and ready. Maybe I'll come to that one and you can too. :-)

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    2. Ooh, that'd be fun!

      I always assumed that Comic Con was for fantasy and sci-fi stuff, but then when I watched the extras on the Veronica Mars DVD, I saw that when the movie came out the cast was at Comic Con.

      So do you think there's benefit for writers outside of the sci-fi and fantasy genre?

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    3. It depends on the con, I think. Some are more comic book heavy. Some are more TV show/film industry heavy. Some are more about books. There were a few local YA romance authors on the panels. Some that write fairy tales.

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  5. I was at Salt Lake Comic Con on Saturday! I wish I'd realized you were there. I totally would have visited your booth. Darn it!

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    1. Oh, man, Emma! That would have been fun. I plan to go every year, so if you go next year, look me up for sure!

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  6. Ooo, Comic Con looks like SO much fun! Definitely something I want to go to sometime :). Looks like you had a lot of fun! ~Savannah

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  7. One of these days I'm going to dress up like a Vulcan and troll one of these things!

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