Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Brigaders at #BristolCon Part Two

Last week I talked about preparations for SFF convention BristolCon and what we took for our dealers table HERE. This week I'm going to tell you how it all went.

It wasn't as traumatic experience as my nightmares had led me to believe. For one thing I'll direct you to a review of BristolCon by Cheryl Morgan. Of particular note is one concern that hovered at the back of my mind after reading about US conventions and the harassment female SF authors and cosplayers can get.

"Given current debate on the less than welcoming nature of some SF&F conventions, it is worth spending a bit of time asking how we did. There were certainly plenty of women in evidence. To my knowledge, no one was harassed or made to feel unwelcome. There was a good balance of genders on panels, if not perfect panel parity (which is hard to do if you have 5 people per panel)."

This was definitely my view of the convention, and I even felt secure enough to let my 12 year old daughter attend a panel and a signing without the need to hover at her side, and to let her 'man' our table while I attended another panel (Sex and Death - not of interest to her nor in my view entirely suitable for her age) and Misa attended a workshop. My daughter enjoyed the convention so much that I've already committed to going in 2015 and taking her along again.

The two panels I attended were interesting and well moderated, to the point I'm actually hoping to be part of one (quite a thing for someone like me). I also got a book signed by my favourite author and had a short chat (though my own fangirling embarrassed me enough that I didn't try to hang on after >.< ). Eldest, however, chatted to both Janet Edwards and Jaine Fenn for a whole HOUR!

I didn't sell any download cards, raffle tickets, have anyone take a BP bracelet or the free samples (though I did have a few people pick up and read the samples). I don't think being opposite a double, completely book orientated Forbidden Planet table helped. Visitors gravitated to their colourful display of big name authors which put their backs toward us (I will note that they didn't make an awful lot of sales that I saw either and they packed up a couple of hours before the rest of us) and another author commented that it had been quiet. There was also a second hand book table, plus a table of free books (which eldest and I helped ourselves to), plus three other author tables, and a selection of books by the guests of honour set out at the convention entrance. That's an awful lot of books on sale. Also I still feel the UK is a bit behind in embracing the ebook phenomenon, and I doubt the concept of download cards is well known.

After the event, I learned I made ONE sale due to the convention (I'm inordinately pleased and flattered that it was to one of the guests of honour - my daughter's favourite author). I will also say that, while I can't be sure, I have had a little jump in sales since the event - after three months of steady sales, I actually sold NOTHING the first week of October (going only by NovelRank, a not 100% accurate way to track Amazon sales when the book is via a publisher, and by my KDP, Smashwords and ARe dashboards for my self pubbed works), and the following two weeks were lower than the previous three months. So the spike was noticeable. I have absolutely no way to know if the convention appearance caused this, but it seems too much of a coincidence.

Also of interest in relation to this is a link a friend sent me on Twitter.

Is cosplaying killing sales at conventions?

This certainly wasn't the case at BristolCon, which focusses more on books, authors, artists and panels rather than costumes.

So what did I learn?

1. I probably need to be a bit more pro-active.
2. I was inordinately surprised and impressed by my daughter's behaviour and enthusiasm, and at the welcoming nature of the convention.
3. The panels were well worth going for alone.
4. I got to meet Misa for realz!
5. I need my print books! Both Keir (my first and one remaining copy) and the print edition of the anthology were picked up, but both were for display only, and I think if I'd had them for sale I might actually have sold a few. Le sigh.
6. My spiked hair made me memorable, as did my red jacket. Hats seem to be very much a part of an author's badge, but I'll stick with the spikes. :P
7. I need a banner of my own.

I wish I'd had better news to share in terms of promotion, but on a personal level I found it useful and worthwhile. There's always next year! And to finish, here's a pretty I treated myself to.

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