Is it worth participating in book festivals? I’m looking at going to one in another state. The cost for a table in Authors’ Alley is $110, and the festival is for one day. The last time it was held in person, attendance was around 9500 people.
Longer answer: it’s absolutely worth it if you are a reader and you would like to go. It’s a lot of fun. As far as being an author and selling your own books, you have to do the math.
Cost of a hotel room: $300. I am aiming a bit high here, since prices vary from city to city.
Gas, plane ticket, shipping books if not driving them in, etc. Let’s say for the sake of this example that we teleported to the event with all of our books in tow.
An average self-published paperback can be had for about $5 wholesale. Let’s say you are selling them for $10, so you are earning $5 per book. To cover your hotel stay, fee, and meals, you have to sell 102 books. If you can move 102 print books at an event, you don’t need to go, because you already have a built-in audience. Save the money and spend the time writing the new book instead.
If, however, there is a book festival within driving distance and it’s only $110 to set up, why not? It might be fun. There are worse ways to spend a Saturday than chatting with people who love books.
A small note here: there is an entire cottage industry out there that is designed to milk money out of self-published authors. Promotion, secret newsletter lists, table fees, and so on and so on. Please do your due diligence.
You can argue that every reader you get could theoretically pick up the backlist and it would be worth it in the long run, but I have seen people go to Romantic Times and Kisscon conventions and come away with sacks of books from the giveaways, and months later, they have read like one or two out of a dozen they carted home.
Do you know how resistant readers are? Let me tell you.
“Dear Ilona, I love your Kate Daniels series. I adore the way you write. Do you know of any authors that write like you because I would like more books like yours?”
If only there was ANY OTHER series out there written by someone who writes just like us.
That’s the kind of inertia you are fighting.
The only thing that really works at conventions is if you somehow present your work as ultra special. Let’s say you show up with a huge banner of your cover and big words on it, “Due to overwhelming demand, quantities are limited. 1 book per person only.” And you promote it beforehand so when you are there, you’ve got a line, because lines beget lines.
But again, promotion costs money.
I’ve done a profit analysis before, and I can tell you that for us it’s not worth it. We have done events where we sold hundreds of books, and it’s still not cost effective in the end, because one plane ticket wipes out most of your profits. If you see us at a convention, it’s because the publisher wanted us to go and they paid for it. But if you are self-published author, and you have moved a lot of books at an event, please comment and share your experiences.
I try to talk myself out of checking the blog daily or multiple times a day but then you post and my behavior is reinforced.
Debbie B says
Repeat, the same verse!
I feel a lot of pressure to not post, because sometimes people’s reactions make it seem that unless it’s new fiction, they are not interested. 🙂 So I appreciate knowing that you enjoy my posts.
Nicole in WI says
Oh I absolutely check every day to see if there is something new on the blog. As it’s been said before, I would read your shopping list 🙂
I also find all your blog posts very interesting…even the knitting ones and I am not a knitter.
Haha, same! Knitting is so boring to me… reading what Ilona says about knitting? And the first 50 comments? Fascinating! :’D Something is wrong with me
Same here. It makes me want to knit, but that’s probably never going to happen.
+1 I am horrible at knitting and yet I love to read HA blogs and all comments on knitting and yarn.
Bonnie G. says
I love the posts and keep secretly hoping Ilona will take up crocheting. 🙂
+1 I only crochet, never could get the hang of knitting.
Aurora Ebonfire says
Sheila Lankford says
Me too! I love your posts!
I auto check every single day and really appreciate that you make the effort to post something frequently.
Stephanie Gasior says
Melissa Duke says
I agree. I love reading your posts. I’m not a writer but it’s interesting to know what goes into writing excellent books. Thank you for everything you do.
Judith Davis says
I also love ALL the blog posts and especially love the environment you create with the moderation (I’m always comfortable reading the comments!)
Taylor H says
I check all the time. I think you could post a grocery store list and I would find it interesting!
Susie Q. says
The BDH has claimed that we would gladly read anything you write. Personally, a blog with shopping lists for someone from each of your series would be amazing. How much meat do the Lennarts buy on a weekly, etc. Comparison shopping would be so fun.
I like to hear about your everyday life because it makes you seem more real, as people dealing with problems not just amazingly talented writers in a funny, twist way that leave me surprised. It connects us to life with skunks.
Dealing with social isolation as a senior, single person with 2 cats for company, your blogs have kept me somewhat sane over the past year or so. Thank you for doses of life as well as snippets.
I’m now imagining Kate asking Curran to pick up some steaks and him bring home the whole cow.
Diane Wilson says
Yes! I enjoy your posts! Whether about pets, food, the writing life, kids, Texas, or the occasional black-and-white squirrel!
Another serial blog checker here. I enjoy all of your posts. Some make me laugh and some teach me something. Also, the BDH is an interesting bunch of people in the best sense. The fictin is a lovely surprise when you post it. But I read the blog because I enjoy hearing about you all. So post away when and what you want to post.
+1…also enjoy the snippets….thank you
Donna A says
If it’s any consolation I prefer your non-snippet blogs since they mess with my OCD sensibilities.
But if everyone was the same we’d all be bored (my mum used to say this to me and my response was that actually we’d probably be dead as a species, but the saying has grown on me as I’ve gotten older).
Some people just don’t know how to be polite and appreciative. They must still be reading the blog in order to complain they don’t like it!
Ditto – both the sentiment re this blog (prefer the non-fiction ones) and the conviction that if we were all the same, the species would have died out by now ???? My take on it is usually “… and I wouldn’t want to live in a world with only versions of me” ????
Yes! I don’t read snippets because it gives me a jolt to come upon them in the book. I come here for the rest of it!
Anna L says
Everytime there is a new blog post about anything it makes my day. Even a new kickstarter about a plushie sea scorpion made me think of your blog. So please dont feel pressure to post anything but know that there is a horde of people who enjoy anything you write in blog form or books
Michelle M says
I so love your posts. I like the ones where the wildlife around you are misbehaving. Its good to see none of your pets have been sprayed by a skunk or attacked by a racoon lately though. And that you have the scorpion situation addressed. Fiction is lovely but slice of life, internet videos or publishing advice is appreciated too.
Kim Stewart says
I love all your posts. Your viewpoint is always refreshing, and I crack up a lot. Yes, please with the posts!
(Unidentifiable scratchy rashes to the naysayers and haters, Ilona. Self entitled brats, who needs them?)
I have a tab dedicated to your blog. I think it’s awesome that you give this type of insight into the industry – even though my writing ability is limited to technical documentation. A lot of the concepts still apply to other industries. I finally have hubby actually looking at whether or not buying something for his budding company will “pay rent”. If the answer is no – we don’t need it, no matter how much you WANT it…. Similar concept for “will you at least cover the cost of you GOING” – if the answer is no – probably not worth it. Stay local where the attendance cost is minimal.
Susan B says
There is a dedicated tab on my browser and I always check the blog in the evening when I sit down to relax. Love your posts – all of them.
Ariana Brosha says
I do the same. It’s the only dedicated browser tab I keep, and I have it on multiple devices just in case… ????????????
Patricia B. says
+1 I come for the posts, stay for the comments. House Andrews & the BDH are awesome. From snippets to knitting to great life advice this is one community I love to be part of. <3 to all 🙂
Just piling on here – I especially appreciate the posts where you talk about writing, the publishing industry, and Artha 😉 I’m happy to pay for your writing, but your insights are incredibly helpful. Thank you !
I really don’t care WHAT you post, because I end up enjoying reading your daily life wordplay ‘almost’ as much as story snippets. You are the only authors I stalk this way & it is because of the way you write. You have a gift for sharing even sad or potentially mundane anecdotes through the filter of your world view – a word lens that coats them in humor and welcomes us to join in the happy, stressy, chaotic mess that is life. Reading your musings (about whatever) always makes my day better – hence blog stalking for new posts.
I feel like reading your blog has helped me know you guys better, which adds something special to reading your novels. Even though you are creating new worlds, the idea that you like to cook or knit or … adds another layer when I run across one of your characters doing that. Even the way you answer questions like this post, one gets a sense of a practical attitude that many of your best characters share.
Each day I check:
CNN top headline- to see if anything is currently blowing up.
NYT- crossword, cooking, general news.
This blog- because I need a regular dose of interesting, smart people. New fiction is extra fun, but that’s not why I come here.
Washington Post — to see what I missed since I don’t watch local news
KrebsOnSecurity — to see what cyber criminals are doing and which public company might have lost my info
Comics — for my daily laugh
Ilona Andrew’s blog — for daily blog/snippet/world of writing/daily life
I check the first and last items a day. Don’t want to miss anything. ????
*items multiple times a day.
I check (in order):
*Google News – Headlines and local news for Houston
*Houston Chronicle online
*Ilona Andrews blog
Girl Genius Comics (M, W, F)
I Can Has Cheezeburger?
My lists on Amazon
* = at least twice
Mary Fleming says
i too am seral blog checker, and i enjoy the all the non-snipity goodness, probably most of all
Michele G says
I always enjoy your posts for the honesty & candour. I read the blog because I usually learn something new. I also find that way to describe things is always interesting. Thank you
I check the blog for updates during any/all breaks I have in my day! I’m always super excited with whatever is posted here 🙂
Excepting the kamikaze scorpion-horde-from-hell incident, I find all posts either entertaining, educational, or just plain interesting.
That one was my favorite.
That one reminded me to get new hook-and-loop backing to attach my old screen “door” to my new house!!!
I love your blog posts, whether snippets or not, and check every day. I love the snips of course, but I also just love your slice of writer’s life commentary. OTOH, no pressure if you can’t or don’t want to post — the BDH is lucky to have your interaction, but not entitled to it. 🙂
I love reading about the nuts and bolts of writing and being an author. I’m not an author, have no aspirations in that area…but your insight is always so fascinating! I love your blog! I love all your writing 🙂
Kim D says
I read every one of your posts, on every subject, and appreciate the time you put into all of them. Glimpses into the realities of being an author and getting published? Fascinating. Glimpses into your life, with family and pets and friendships? Heartwarming. Snippets and news on release progress? Exciting.
Thank you for sharing your worlds, experiences, and expertise with us all. :heart: I may not comment a lot, but I sure do read them!
Mary Cruickshank-Peed says
You guys always have something interesting to say… I read your blog when I see something new posted, even if it’s not a new snippet or announcement (altho I appreciate those too.) Your scorpio trials had me laughing/cringing/glad I don’t live in Texas, and your pet trials are always good. I like when you write about writing because I keep telling myself when I get some time, I’m just going to write, dammit. (Except I’ve had the entire last year and wrote 5 short blog posts and an outline. So maybe not this lifetime, but still interesting.)
So please, while I appreciate new books, I don’t think you can write fast enough to feed my habit exclusively, so I’m happy to read the blog in the meantime.
My husband has the Chive, I have your blog. The range of goodies posted is amazing. I’ve read and reread every book you’ve published, even the short stories. I originally started reading for the snippets but fell in love with relatable humanized quality of the posts. The glass house, safety helmets, animal stories with pictures(!), hunting scorpions, knitting. That’s just recently! It’s always a good mind munch here.
Honestly, it’s one of the very few things I look forward to every day. So, if you ever feel the need to post twice a day, feel free. ????
Hi Ilona! As a loyal fan who has read everything you have written I know I’m not alone in saying there are fans of your books but also fans of you as a person. I personally love all your post and read every blog entry and find value in each one regardless of subject matter. Hope your family is well and take care! ❤️
Hell yeah! Sometimes I check the blog twice a day.
Carradee, a.k.a. Misti says
I’m among those who enjoy all your posts. 🙂
Your everyday life posts were even a major help to me surviving and escaping a toxic environment, myself—you reinforced that there were parents who…well…showed respect and all like y’all did.
I’m having to dig through my feed reader, these days, since my study of Dutch has hit the point of me following some Dutch headlines, and I still check your blog for updates often. 🙂
Checking the blog is a daily sanity ritual.
THANK YOU for the life raft.
I am much less interested in new fiction (unless it is an announcement of a new work) than in the Andrews’ home life—Kids1&2, animals, home improvement, cooking, venting (I really like the snark), and other stuff.
I do too. Just in case it’s a numbers game.
I also check the blog once a day or maybe twice…I enjoy it immensely, both what you share with us and the horde’s comments. I loved yesterday’s teaser. Looking forward to reading Ruby Fever. Thank you for your writing – books and blog.
I check multiple times a day and enjoy everything you care to share with us. You can make us laugh, cry, learn, and think with even the most mundane of writings, such is your gift. Please post away!!!!
Holly C says
Please don’t feel pressure to post or not post. I adore your little snipets and quick glances into your lives. I don’t want you to feel pressure, I just want you to share what you can when you are able. Your books are a very bright light in my life, I look forward to what you are going to come up with next.
Heh, not only do I read your blog, I frequently end up reading it out loud to my husband after wiping up whatever liquid got snorted across the room. He’s dyslexic and only reads technical stuff, so he doesn’t even read your books and he gets a bang out of your blog.
Love all your posts even if they are just to vent about whatever is annoying/pissing you off that particular day. (But REALLY love the outtakes!)
I check your blog either every day or every other day, and not just for novel updates and snippets, but because I find your blog fun, funny, interesting, and even educational at times. If you just posted new fiction updates, it would be as ordinary (dry?boring? uninteresting?) as some other authors’ blogs, so I appreciate your efforts and always look forward to your posts, no matter the subject!
Of course we enjoy… and for those wo don’t like… they can just stop reading. Your blog, your posts, your rules
My sister and I look for your posts and then discuss them when we talk. They are so interesting and fun!
I check everyday and absorb any comments. Snippets are just extra like whipped cream and cherries on top.
????????♀️ I also check for posts multiple times a day – and also occasionally go back and read the archives (I may have a problem…)
I always enjoy your posts! I laugh a lot, learn some stuff and get a nice break from my day. Currently, there is some weird and horribly contagious kennel cough thing in Northern VA. Our dogs are basically staying inside except for our backyard and brief walks. They are not impressed and have repeatedly and loudly let us know that we are not enriching their lives. Your posts help keeping us laughing so thank you.
Kay Kazlowski says
Good grief. Our daycare kennel just warned us that there us a kennel cough outbreak in Knoxville, TN (just down the road). If Smoky 1-1/2 year old Aussiedoodle) can’t go to daycare 2 times a week, he turns into a raging schizophrenic. Sure hope it isn’t the same one.
And Ilona, I’m just as crazy as all the BDH. No matter what you write, Blog, book, grocery list, I’ll read and love it.
Even have my husband checking to see what’s the latest news on your blog, and he really isn’t into my “paranormal” books!
Lorrine C Thompson says
Oh gosh — I’m a longtime non-fiction writer but wannabe fiction writer who dabbles (and has friends who have published) and I LOVE your writing blog posts. And another of my writing friends refers to it often. Your insights are definitely valued by many.
Bruce R says
I read ALL of your posts!!
I get all the happy chemicals when I see one of your posts. Book talk, pet talk, random house Andrews shenanigans, I enjoy it all. Thank you for being a bright spot in my internet surfing.
I LOVE your posts about anything and everything. Absolutely no pressure here, but whenever you do post, it’s always a bright spot in my day no matter what the subject is. Thank you so much for making the effort!
As an avid reader of many genres of books I absolutely love book fests and meeting authors. I would, and have, driven for hours to stand in line, for hours, just to have a 60 second chat and maybe a selfie. I also like to then browse through all the available books from all the different authors and I never leave empty handed. So much so that I take cash with me so I can’t “accidentally” go over my spending amount.
Ps, I love your normal life posts, they are very relatable and always worth reading.
Stacy McKnight says
Oh please! Post all you want! Thanks. Lol! I live for snippets but I also really enjoy the publishing info and the real but elevated daily trials of life stuff you post as well.
Theodore D. says
To be honest, I check you blog every day.
Most times there aren’t any updates and I leave empty handed.
Then, there are funnies, silliness or the daily life (Gordon and the scorpions was a real eye opener).
I do enjoy breaking the monotony and your blog posts are most welcome! 🙂
OMG!! I check the blog a couple of times a day, to see if you have posted. You make me laugh, broaden my world and make me feel that I am not alone in the frustrations / laughter / animal joys of life and family.
The variety of topics you share not only gives insight, it makes seeing one of your blog titles like reaching into a box of chocolates — I may not know what I’m gonna get, but I will enjoy it. And it may induce me to try something new, read about a subject I hadn’t heard of before, laugh, commiserate with others, or research a topic I didn’t know about or broaden my point of view about a topic from a perspective I hadn’t thought of before. So — thank you, and please, please keep blogging whenever YOU feel like it. (Now I feel like I’m pressuring you to blog, when my intent was to say “you do you when you want”) 😀
So very much. All the insights into writing, life, adventures are a bright spot in what is often a dreary day. Please keep posting as long as it’s not causing you stress. I love hearing about yarn and everything else.
I love your posts and I really enjoy the comments and banter from everyone. The various recommendations ranging from real estate to novels to funny websites have given me much joy and fun. I have passed these on to my family and fiends. I am shock gasp not a knitter but I have checked out the various sites. When I find time I am so delving into the Korean soap operas. Thank you Ilona and Gordon, family and the hard working and talented Moderator and all the others who comment.
If I’ve had a bad day I watch Sookie’s The Woe of Bulldogs :). Sookie makes everything better 🙂 🙂
I came because of the fiction. I keep coming back because of the (non-fiction) content and the community. 🙂
Abha Dhupkar says
Oh, absolutely enjoy your posts!
Though I like the snippets more, the way you have explained writing, promoting, self-publishing, editing and all things books has really improved my knowledge.
While I love the books, I never really realised the enormous amount of post writing work that is involved.
Thanks for your posts!
Abra Staffin-Wiebe says
As a reader, I’m a die-hard fan of yours and I love the story snippets and insights into your lives (writing-related and otherwise). As an author, I appreciate the business bits. And I agree, selling books at a convention has only really been worth it for me when I’m a special guest–fewer costs, better (free) publicity!
I’ve enjoyed all your posts and all the posts by Mod R, Kid 2, Jeannine (spelling?), Gordon (he may have only added commentary, I don’t remember a whole post by him, but apologies if I’m forgetting any), and any other posts that may have happened!
It doesn’t matter the topic, I’ve liked reading them all! I even read most of the comments (some of the long ones get away from me) because the BDH is also entertaining!
I appreciate your frequency of blogging, even when I’m sure there’s other things you would rather do. Thank you! ????
I am not an author but I love it when you discuss these things – I think it is great to see you giving advice to others, and I am an avid reader so it is interesting to hear about the industry
Jane N says
I love all the posts. It’s not the content so much as the voice that makes everything seem interesting
I love your posts – all of them.
What? No! The blog posts are great! I appreciate the insight into the writing world and fans love to hear about what’s going on with their favorite authors.
I check every day! Tbh, I’m always telling my sister “so I was reading my favorite authors’ blog and they had the funniest story….” My sister has never read your books but she knows more about you then some of my friends ????????????
I do actually love everything you write, including blog posts on plumbing issues and yarn ????????♀️.
Some authors I do just want info on their next book, so instead of subscribing I just pop in and check every few months. I love all your posts though so I get your emails
Robin Šebelová says
Well, I find most of your post interesting (except those which deal with yarn and knitting), so I read as soon as I get the mail/twitter message about it. The posts about writing/book industry are especially interesting, though those from real-life situations are too. Hard to say, which I like more.
I eagerly devour blog posts, especially house drama, kid crazies or pets. But I read them ALL, some have even gotten me past some blah days and I’ve had a smile the rest of the day – think new kitten drama.
Thank you for sharing and please keep posting!
Are you kidding me? I love all your posts! Snippets are just the whip cream topping the whole dessert.
Yes! I adore the blog and read every post. And I’ve read every book. I’m so grateful for all you share with us.
I love your posts. I love that know I will get some sort of insight be it into your life or your books.
I know as a fan I’d love to meet you at a Con, but I also understand the expenses. I have been a long time DragonCon volunteer and Con-goer and as much as I love the Author and Artists, and Crafts booths each year, I wonder if they find it worth the expense to drag everything there.
(And yes, I’ve often giggled at the idea of what those first few DragonCons would be like in Post Shift Atlanta when then SciFi and Fantasy tracks sessions would be less daydream and more facing reality sessions) ????
Hope to maybe find my way to an in-person book event or rare Con event you are part of one day. Until then will continue to have your series on rotation in my daily audiobook listening.
Happy to read WHATEVER you post! As, well as ALL your series ????.
I am SO excited any time I get an email and it’s one of your posts – all of them. Actually – I especially love the personal ones, they make me feel like you guys really appreciate your readers and like we are part of your extended family.
I’ve been reading your books since The Edge, and Kinship Universe is one of my favourites too. I’ve followed the Innkeeper series online from the start and love that you then publish them and I can buy them in support.
When I find an author that I love I’m definitely a “buy out the whole backlog” style reader – mainly because it’s so rare that I find a well written book that when I do I go a little nuts!
Thank you for sharing your creativity with the world, I’m so glad that you are able to make a living from it and I hope your inspiration never runs dry.
You guys are the best!
Emily Pyers says
I not only love the random and frequently hilarious “slice of the author-life” posts, I routinely recommend your blog to other people – it literally brings me that much joy
Amy Laurens says
I get them delivered to my inbox. They arrive overnight my time, and it’s always a good day when I can wake up to an Ilona email in my inbox xx <3 (And, tbh, I tend to skim the fiction because I'd rather wait and read the book properly :'D)
Jane N says
I absolutely enjoy your posts. I love the way you write; including the thigns you write about in your blog. I usually read in the email that I receive and then go into the post online to read comments if I want to read more or comment. Thanks for sending us these cool blog entries. 🙂
J. M. says
I absolutely adore your posts, writing-oriented or not. It makes me feel better to know that the insanity of life is universal.
Kelly M says
I enjoy Every. Single. Post. Dog pics, cat pics, stories of house repair fiascos, kid stories, house pics, snippets, random K-drama/book/game recommendations or synopses… I love it all. It makes my day happier when I get to read any House Andrews post. 🙂
Amanda in Austin says
I love reading the stories of Kid 2 and the menagerie and adventures in A/C and Tuna. Every thing your hands write can’t be new fiction or regarding new fiction, there is only so much of that to go around and what do people think inspires that fiction? All the inanities of real life and how your brains transform, transfigure, and spin it into something new. 🙂
I love your blog. I check frequently just to see what’s going on with you and yours. I’m looking forward to your upcoming new releases but I’m not rushing you guys. This author stuff looks like hard work! I know they will come out eventually so I’m patiently waiting.
I am doing a complete re-read of your books (ALL of your series) and I just finished Magic Shifts. I’m getting older… and I was shocked at how much I’d forgotten about the finer details of the books. It was almost as much fun as reading them the first time. Love all your animal posts. I’m also not a knitter but I enjoy the pretty colors and the comments.
Thanks for all you do for your fans.
I follow the blog too, it makes me smile and helps me feel connected. And it is always interesting! My perspective on life is always improved too by getting a glimpse of other people’s lives, like triangulating a healthy perspective by adding data points further away. I don’t always have many opportunities in-person sometimes and besides I enjoy your perspective and commentary so viva la blog!
Sarah P says
At least twice a day. I adore your perspective and humor as much in the memoir you are creating here as in your fiction.
Really? Aw. The slice-of-life posts and the author-reality posts are my favorite. And you happened to explain tapas and mhwangas right when I was about to give up understanding how it works (I want to know your favorite titles so I know which ones are worth unlocking). P.S. I knit. Really well. Heehee!
Same. This is one of a few websites I check daily…multiple times if there hasn’t been a new post…
are you me ?
Same here! The posts make such interesting and often funny reading, no matter what the topic.
And sometimes we get writing tips too, my favorite!!
Bobbie Gold says
I have ALL your books. They are in my keep bookshelf!
You are one of the few automatic buy authors I have. If you write it I will buy it. Your stories wear well. And are rarely predictable. The Inn Keeper series are my go to books when I get burned out by other authors. And the Hidden Legacy. Although I love all your books.
Same to infinity
Laura Hunsaker says
I do local events only. It costs me very little, other than promo materials. I usually make my money back and I enjoy it. That being said, another local author and I try to make sure to be seated next to each other all the time. We hype up each others’ books like crazy to whoever stops. Mine are romance, hers are urban fantasy…we just really work well together. That being said, I’ve had times where I’ve sold one book, and some where I’ve sold out. I really think it depends on how excited you can get people for your books-if they are new to you. Obviously if you have readers who love you already, they are already hyped. But I fully agree that local ones are the best for cost purposes.
As a reader who occasionally attends conventions, I mainly go to meet authors I already love and get signed books from them. I do stop by tables of authors I don’t recognize if their display catches my eye, but I almost never buy a copy of the book. I don’t have the shelf space and just bought a bunch I know I wanted and have to bring home. I’ll check out an ebook first. And of the ones I talked to, its a much smaller number where I read one of their books, let alone becomes a convert who reads the entire published list of books. If I don’t get to their books within the first month, I’ve likely forgotten about the interaction.
Ooooh… I have never been to a convention myself, but your post gives me an idea: Set up a big QR code on the table and tell people they can scan it to buy your ebook (perhaps on sale…) I would definitely go for it. But then, I *literally* don’t go to conventions, so maybe this idea would not fit the typical crowd 😀
Carysa Locke says
Yep, I absolutely agree. So many people give books away at these events and readers will of course take them, but then end up only reading one or two from the dozen or so they took. Authors, if they take the free books of their peers, are even worse odds. I have come to the conclusion that events like this, and even most author conventions aimed at educating authors with panels and the like are really only worth doing if you want to go hang out with other authors for a weekend and chat. The most valuable interactions and takeaways usually come from the casual sit-around-the-bar talk with other authors.
There are always exceptions, of course. I know a self-pubbed author who makes a lot of money selling her paperbacks at events like this, but she’s also spent two years building that audience and now has readers show up at these events looking for her books. She’s spent a LOT of time and money promoting her paperbacks and selling signed copies. She packs them in bundles and sells them as deals (stuff like “buy these five books and get $10 off”). But, IMO, as an author you can put that same time and money into promoting ebook sales and not have the extra travel expenses and the hassle of ordering physical books. Heck, Ingram can’t even get my third book’s layout correct and amazon keeps linking my old trade paperback book 2 instead of the mass market I painstakingly set up, so my readers keep getting book 1 in mass market, book 2 in trade size, and book 3 isn’t even available. I haven’t even tried setting up the rest because until I get that mess sorted, it isn’t worth it. I keep putting it off because I sell so few paperbacks compared to ebooks, the headache almost isn’t worth it. At the same time, I know readers want physical copies of their favorite books, so at some point I need to figure out why stuff keeps getting messed up and fix it.
Telepathic pirates!! I’m hooked!
Thanks! Just bought Pirate Nemesis, but wouldn’t have looked at it without your comment.
Carysa Locke says
Aw, thanks ladies! I hope you enjoy them. Just a quick note for admin, I comment here as a reader and fan of Ilona’s, I try hard not to do anything self-promo because this isn’t the appropriate space for that.
Jeanette and Steph – I am always happy when new readers give my books a chance, and I love that the phrase “telepathic space pirates” helps people decide to check them out. Back when I had an agent, I waffled about a series name, and it was her suggestion to lean into my “working title”. It does seem to get attention, so I don’t think she was wrong. To this day, however, my husband cannot stop himself from commenting about how much he hates it. He would have rather I went with something generic and boring like “the Pirate War Series”, lol.
Great series. Now on the waiting list with IA, NS, CF. And more but these 3 ladies are top.
Thanks for the thank you.
Carysa Locke says
Thank you so much Jeanette! You just made my day. 😀
Megan H says
This reminds me it has been awhile since I read the Edge series. New weekend plan!
You’re literally the only authors I’ve ever traveled to visit. Your interaction with your fans/stans, blogs, and just sharing of your life has made me open to following other authors. Y’all are still my favorites and my family knows if I get a new IA book, to just leave me alone.
Thanks to you, I’m open to other authors.
Same! I took a train to see them in Durham (and visit my BFF) and it was so worth it! I’ve considered Dragon Con a few times since Patricia Briggs usually attends, but it’s not a great travel weekend.
Jana S. Brown says
I’ve attended a number of local conventions and signings and most of the time I break even or a little under and chalk it up to marketing costs. I only go to conventions where I know I’ll have fun because then part of the cost is also going to hang with my author/reader friends doing something I’d like to do anyway. It has NEVER been a profit center for me or any of the other authors I know. A big name coming to a medium sized convention will move a lot of books – but often they’ve been paid to come. As well readers often come with x amount of budget and they already know where most of that budget is going, so I’m suddenly competing with all of my author friends over that last 10 bucks. Only one of us is getting a sale. When I walk the floor to buy I feel like I’m at the pound with the world’s most enthusiastic (or sometimes sad) puppies and I can only take one home.
So it can be fun. It can be a marketing thing. But don’t bet the bank on it.
I read every word of every post – I learn so much about the real world of writing and publishing. It’s a complement to how much I experience inside your books!
This is a sad commentary, but a realistic one. I can’t recall if I’ve attended a convention. I think not. I’m very cautious about attempting a new (to me) author’s work. I always attend signings held in bookstores. But those events are for authors whose books I’ve already purchased. These signings are a thrill for me. And based on the reaction of others there, it’s the same for them. I don’t see a point of conventions.
They were very helpful when I was purchasing for a library system. Being exposed to panel discussions and smaller publishers and different genres was well worth the attendance but … that was a different world.
Travel money has disappeared – print ain’t where it’s at although the genre and authors info is just as helpful…
I hadn’t thought of that, but it does make sense. Heck, I’m guilty of not reading some of the books I’ve purchased…I had the same feeling about wishing there were more books…but then I joined the BDH and I’ve read everything that I can publicly read! Thank y’all so much for all of the stories you’ve given us so far and for all of the snippets and the posts on here! You guys make my day, everyday!
While I adore snippet posts and posts with upcoming book info, I really enjoy these “behind-the-curtain” posts, because you discuss aspects of the book/publishing industry that I know nothing about and often never thought of. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and wisdom.
I enjoy all your posts, but I find the industry posts really interesting because you peel back the curtain and reveal the hidden (and sometimes ugly) truths about the writing process and the business. It’s food for thought. Thank you.
Oof! That resistant reader, oh dear…
It’s always neat to read your insights on your experiences, from publishing to everyday. I still shudder from the scorpions.
Jana Oliver says
In all honesty I never made back the cost of attending conventions, book festivals, etc. over the 20 years I’ve been an author. When I was just starting out I attended probably 4-5 per year to build my brand, and once my traditionally-published series launched it was closer to 8-10 events per year. In fact, I first met Ilona at a Romantic Times convention in Orlando and shrieked like the total fangirl that I am.
Negatives: it cost a lot in terms of money and time. I lost sometimes as much as a week of writing time depending on the location of the event and how tired I was once I got back home. I was perpetually exhausted and that’s part of why I don’t do such events any longer.
Positives: I built a solid reputation as a hardworking guest author and I made contacts within the industry that led to more publishing contracts. And I met so many wonderful people along the way.
That being said, I had a spouse who had a full-time job who could help pay for these expenses until my writing income rose enough to cover the bills. Not everyone is in that situation.
Bottom line — pick and choose what works best for you. Being out and meeting potential and existing readers is a kick. But it all depends on your bank account balance, your tolerance for travel, and how all that affects your writing.
Can only speak as a comic artist, it’s a tough battle weighing the numbers at times. Specially the stress of taking on a convention and how much it eats out of one’s schedule planning before hand, attending, and adding on time to recoup.
But I will say, the one time you both were at SDCC was the HIGHLIGHT of my whole time tabling at the show. I never ran so fast across that huge ass hall to make it in time to get a chance to say hi and pick up a book in person. So, as tough as it is I can’t help but secretly (and selfishly) hope you two will attend another one again (but I totally understand avoiding them all together).
I attended a con that was here in town, not related to authors but more of a general comic/fantasy/LARP con that just happened to book Charlaine Harris before her Sookie Stackhouse series was made into the show on HBO. I had read her Shakespeare and Aurora Teagarden series and loved them so wanted to go. Side note, she is a gracious southern lady that reminded me of my Aunt that lived in Arkansas. If all authors were like her and team Andrews, I’d travel to see them!
Wendy Taylor-Overway says
I enjoy your blog posts. I adore your writing style and characters but it’s fun reading the updates on life. Frankly I was crying I was laughing so hard at the post you did with the cast iron crime scene (there was wincing and a gasp of horror as well…you don’t do THAT to a perfectly seasoned pan) Thanks for doing what you do.
To add onto what others have said, often you would make posts about anxiety, being stressed, and how you handle that. I’ve found some really helpful advice in your posts, and have often shared that advice with my sister who struggles with stress and anxiety. I do not follow your blog just for the fiction, especially because Edge burgers are amazing and were a riot at home!
I follow on Facebook (you are marked as a favoite) and click through every post. I’ve never heard of book conventions. It’s always good to learn something new.
Sara Weiss says
You should absolutely go if there is a local(ish) one. As a reader, it is a blast!
Love, love, love your blog posts. I check every day, sometimes more than once. Like others if you’re writing it then I’m buying it, no question. Your books hold up to rereading (many times).
No complaints here as to books or blog content. I’m content to read whatever you produce whenever you produce it.
Katherine Nobles says
Thank you for your explanation. It’s sad that you make so little money for the amount of joy you’ve given me over the years. Please, keep writing! I’ll keep buying and recommending everything you put out!
They make little money *via conventions*, yes.
But from their sales and what they share on this blog, I’m pretty sure House Andrews is doing pretty damn fine financially. 🙂 And may it remain so. They definitely deserve it.
Carina M Paredes says
Your posts always make me smile and I love seeing an ‘in’ on the writing world. Keep them coming.
K.N. Banet says
I’m a self-published author who has never done an event and it’s never hurt me not to. I think the only reason I’ve now got 2 potentially scheduled for 2023 is because I finally want to meet some of my readers in person.
Essentially, I’m not looking to break even or anything because that math just never made sense to me(as your example shows. It’s troubling math). I’m turning them into mini vacations. There will be work but there will also be days I’ll be able to see the sights with my husband tagging along for the adventure. It’ll get me out of the house at least! ????
Just got the first of your Jacky Leon series via Kindle Unlimited. Any author who follows IA is worth trying.
Dawn Page says
OMG! My daughter and I love your books! We are so glad to have discovered you, thanks to Amazon recommends! I’m glad you are doing so well. Keep up the good work!
Hi K.N. Banet! I am so ready to buy Royal Pawn (from the Jacky Leon series) when it comes out tomorrow!
Fan girl moment over finding your comment on Ilona blog. I love you books. Saving royal pawn for this weekend to savor it. Loved your thought provoking blog post recently. Enjoy your working vacations.
I am GLAD you guys do signings. ????
I was lucky enough to meet you both at RARE Paris 2019, and it was so special to me to meet the people who has created such stunning worlds and characters.
So even if the numbers don’t always add up attending events the experience I got as a reader was priceless????
Sara Weiss says
I’m glad you went to RT in Dallas because I got to meet you! You were both so kind. As a reader it was a great experience. I highly recommend small conferences where you actually get to know people and interact.
I enjoy all your posts and the one from several years ago about a nightshade elimination diet halved my antacid consumption. As others have said, it’s interesting to get behind the scenes glances into your life and the publishing industry.
Winifred C Stroup says
I read every post. You make them all enjoyable even when very serious.
Ellen Solensky says
I read your posts diligently. Not the case with all authors’ blogs. You write so well everything is worth my time. Thank you.
I’m a fairly restrained blog addict. I only check for new posts a couple times a week. But I always enjoy them, no matter the subject. And yours is the only blog I have found worth following.
I love all your posts, the non-fictions, just as much as the fiction posts. I have bought and will buy everything you write. Aside from news, your site is the only web page I visit every day.
I’m a failed knitter, not an animal lover, not a writer, a mediocre cook, not into video games or comics but I still love and appreciate your posts. The most successful presents for my hubby have come from this blog: Assassin’s Creed & a Sous Vide water circulator.
Thanks for posting (anything), esp recipes. I really appreciate it!
And I will never get to a book signing or convention and I am not on Facebook so the online zoom release parties were the best thing ever. I really hope those continue.
Sean T says
I have bought everything you have published, and will continue to. I have met authors I like at Comicpalooza in Houston and other cons and was thrilled, I bought some books off tables of authors I had not heard of and the quality is spotty, but there is no other way to find new authors but to read their work.
I have friends who go to cons and “work” but really it is an opportunity to go to place full of people who care about similar things and enjoy yourself while writing off the trip as a business expense.
Kelly Standridge says
I am NOT in the publishing industry, but I have done conventions before, where normally the booth price is $3K and up. Freight handling, shipping, airfare, hotels, we’re talking minimum $9K. For us, it was successful if we broke even – BUT we made it a point to collect as many contacts as we could, whether they bought from us there or not. We could always add them to a newsletter and market to them later.
So I read all of the blog posts, even though I am unlikely to ever publish a fiction work, by myself, or with the help of a publisher. Nevertheless, you have made us all invested in your life and business. I enjoy the posts, especially the ones about Russia or comparing life here to life in Russia.
Your blog is bookmarked and checked multiple times daily! Post away please!
Sean T says
Please continue to post, I read them all, and enjoy most all of them. If readers want only the snippets, they can search for them, it’s not hard, you have made post searches very accessible with tagging them.
As a business practice, my interest in your writing encourages me to read your posts, and coming here means I know when you have a product coming out, and so I pre order them. If you did not update as frequently, I would be less motivated to check on it, and would be unaware of new products until they hit Amazon and I think to check on your author page. I cycle through authors I like checking for new work every year or so, but with you it is a daily hit. I recently remembered an author I liked and checked on them for new stuff and found 2 books I did not know about. Had they a blog as compelling as yours I would have pre ordered them, but they do not, and so I buy the books years after release.
I read just about every minute I’m not doing something that needs to be done. I will read over watching TV any day! But I do not attend conventions or book signings because to me, there’s no point to them.
When we lived in Houston, they still had that archaic “never on a Sunday” thing going on and things shut down on Sundays. When trying to get that law changed, someone set up a book signing and we attended it with our children to help support getting things open on Sundays. We met Jim Davis there, he graciously spoke to my children, and he signed the book we bought to support his being there. We’d have bought it, anyway, but my son wanted a signed copy, and he got it. That’s the extent of my attending anything like that. It was a madhouse of people trying to get a law changed, but we got what we wanted and left.
And now I live in an area where there are zero bookstores in the city where my mail comes through and I’m thinking there may be one within 40 miles of my home, but I’m not even sure it’s still there. I buy IA books for Kindle because I will not wait a year for the library to lend one to me, but I basically use the library and Kindle Unlimited to keep myself in books to read. When we had a bookstore, we’d go in three or four times a year, spend hundreds of dollars, and be happy with what we had. Then they closed. I miss the good old days, but my Kindle is my best friend now, and I don’t need a convention to pack that.
I am rather shocked that it costs more than it earns for authors to attend those conventions. That’s good to know. Thank you for the very reasoned way it was explained. I’m sure that will help many authors make decisions.
As a compulsive reader, I will tell you that if an author I love, and who is an auto-buy, moves into a genre I don’t read and don’t already enjoy, I’m not following into that genre.
I used to, but now I know from my experience that I just can’t get into that new series. But then I’m old and set in my ways.
Not an author, but another consideration may be which convention it is. I don’t go to a ton of “cons” – but have attended the ALA annual convention many times in the last 20 years or so. Does the calculation of “need to sell x books at the event” become almost secondary to the publicity push from exposure to folks making purchasing decisions for libraries across the country at something like ALA? Just curious about where that calculation comes in. I know major publishers go all out at ALA but not sure for self-publishing if it’s similar.
Louise A says
I am not a writer nor have I ever played one on TV. (ha ha) However, your blog is the only one bookmarked and checked on a fairly regular basis. Any thing you write be it on the blog or any series of books is fine by me.
John G. Hartness says
Hey there! I do a ton of conventions each year (usually 20+ in an average year) and consider them a major part of my marketing budget. I also vend at these conventions, and the book sales help offset the expenses. Note that I am not going to these conventions to make a profit on the paperbacks themselves. If that’s the only way you’re looking at the event, then I 100% agree that you would be better off staying home and writing. But I’ve been invited to numerous anthologies from conversations I’ve had at cons, made connections with friends and mentors that started at cons, created long-term fans at cons, and gotten my name and face in front of thousands of people. Heck, I created a publishing company based on relationships developed at cons!
So is it worth it to go and sit behind a table and hope to make a living slinging paperbacks at conventions? Not on your life. But can it be an element of building a successful career for a self-published or small press writer? Absolutely. But your money is in the long game, in connections and friendships, in fan development and relationships with readers, and in the increase in visibility. So if you can get on panels at the book festival and then buy a table for $110, go for it. If there’s no opportunity for other professional/career development, and you’re counting solely on your ability to sling paperbacks to create a career, then it would be a hard pass from me.
I just purchased ShinePunk after reading your comment, and your other books seem interesting also.
I enjoy reading all your posts, and it makes me feel like ¿special? Because I have a place where to read about two of my favorite authors lives, and I enjoy it I mean I would love to have short stories or snippets everytime, what can I say I love your books, but I also really like the way you describe normal things like the incident with Gordon and the scorpion, or the thing you put out of your door that caught many scorpions, all the incidents with the pets and the skulls, your vaccine experiences. Your kids moving problems and progress, the licking with the AC, I enjoy all of it and I’m grateful for every post.
Thank you, you don’t owe us anything, it is very kind of you to keep in touch with us! Love u ????
Hello, my name is Py, and I too am a blog addict. (BDH: hello Py!)
I also have the blog bookmark’ed on my work computer and check it for updates when I have down time. It’s a daily routine now. Also love the BDH, and read through the comments section.
Lynn Thompson says
Thank you, Ilona Andrews, for the post.
One point you didn’t mention is a reader like me who are not social, crowd loving, line loving people.
I rarely go to movies because I hate the lines. Admittance line, concession line, bathroom line, seating line, leaving line.
I do do continuing education classes. I do go to church. I go grocery shopping really early in morning though. I stroll thru nearest Barnes & Noble rarely and it’s always at a off time. I hate going out to eat with family as it’s very difficult for me to safely eat out given my food allergies and I hate the waiting. Too many people.
Tractor supply is used to Titan and I picking up feed order first of month just after store opens. Of course Titan likes to shoplift on dog bone aisle. And he likes going to Dairy Queen drive thru for a pup cup. (My BIL told me about Pup cup as it’s not on drive thru board. I have found new cashiers have no clue first time but MODs do. Basically it a sample serving of vanilla ice cream for Titan. Not as good as homemade.)
Anyway, I keep up with my favorite authors thru their websites. I don’t do Facebook or Twitter etc.
Amazon.com is pretty good about letting me know when authors i am interested in publish. Plus Amazon can find me. Although there seems to be a big hole in their delivery drivers training about never run from big dogs. It activates fleeing prey instincts. Probably why I have yet to get same delivery driver more than once. Or they have really huge turnover.
For people who like socializing/ people bookstore meet and greets are great. For introverts like me, not.
Thank you for the blog.
Sharon Barrett says
You teach me something new every time you post. A lifelong dream of mine is to try to write a story, whether it be thirty pages or three thousand. Not saying it would be published, either, I’d like to do it for myself just to prove I can.
Always enjoy the blog posts – critters, snippets, yarn, slice of life – doesn’t matter. I like the comments and stories from the BDH almost as much as the original posts. That said, writing is your life. We already put pressure on you for books. Hoping the blog posts remain a fun thing for you and not a chore. ????
It is your style of humor. Your perspective on life. The logical more intelligent writing style that brings me to your posts & books. It’s also nice that the men in your books read more like real men & not dramatic teenage girls : D So thank you for all the laughs & tears.
Christine Fox says
The silver lining in the pandemic cloud has been online author events.
I had the pleasure of being able to join a Cary Memorial library event that I would never have been able to attend normally because I live in the UK. What a thrill – Ilona and Gordon and Nalini Singh. Fan girl squeeee! Amanda Bouchet was interesting too but her books are not my cup of tea.
I’d love it if you could do further online things.
I’m guessing the costs aren’t too bad to put these things on?
However, coventions (cons) can be very enjoyable and I would highly recommend Worldcon, if you get a chance to go. Everything geek, all in one place.
Johanna J says
Yes! We enjoy your posts – whatever you write about, we’re interested. 🙂
Dawn Wright says
I enjoy reading your posts gaining an author’s prespective on books, publishing and life in general. I find myself laughing and smiling at many posts. OMG about the scorpions! 😀
I enjoy all your posts. Even when I don’t agree with you on something I enjoy reading your take on it. I don’t compulsively check the blog, but I went out of my way to follow you on Twitter because FB wasn’t showing me your posts.
FWIW: as a reader I rarely do Cons. In some ways I’d love to do more of them, I love the author interactions, but I hate crowds, so yah.
Love your posts. As far as folks who ask about other series by different authors who “write just like you”, my friend Clinton says, “You can’t fix STUPID”. For cryin’ out loud!
Interesting! I’ve only considered conventions as more of a networking & fun money sink than a potential investment, looks like I wasn’t far off. ????
Judy Schultheis says
My college friend who’s a professional author said a couple years ago that he’s not going to any convention he’s invited to where he’s promised that his expenses will be covered unless the organizers pay for his room and transportation expenses up front. To hell, he says, with this getting reimbursed shit.
I’ve been on the edges of SF fandom for enough years to know exactly why he feels that way about it.
You’re right about the amounts of money involved, and the likeliest result. My condolences.
Re: a reader picking up an author’s backlist – that would be me. I started reading the Kate Daniels series at my local library, with assistance from the interlibrary loan. All the novels and short stories in anthologies. Then The Edge series, the Innkeeper series, and Hidden Legacy series. Then I bought Iron and Magic (Hugh #1) and KD #10, because the library wait list was at least 20-some people ahead of me. And then I made my local B&N and Amazon really happy because I bought all four series and the anthologies with the short stories/novellas.
So now I can re-read any of these series, (and I do!), whenever I want. I don’t want or need cable tv, but I do want good books!! ????????
Love all the blog posts – family, pets, writing and publishing, cooking, unique real estate listings (the Moscow apartments are my favorites), knitting and crafting, and of course, snippets!! Also the community that is the BDH!!
‘ANY OTHER series’ my hag cackle made my one year old scared.
Hello from a generally non-commenting reader. I look forward to reading your blog everyday. I enjoy the variety and your humor. Reading your blog is kind of like being a part of the Ilona Andrews reality show. 🙂 I love it when you two take turns.
Honestly I always enjoy your posts @Ilona – whether it’s publishing news, teasers, information about appearances, insights into the writing process and the publishing industry, or just your slice of life stories. You can do no wrong with adventures with pets, or even scorpion adventures with Gordon.
I also wanted to chime in with some thoughts for the question that was asked of you.
I also want to say I think it’s important to DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Is it truly a good fit for the work. I see at anime conventions all the time people with an author’s table, but their work isn’t tied to anime or manga, you get a few interested folks, but the overwhelming majority of that demographic just ignores you. Similarly maybe someone made their own graphic novel with original content. There is a purism in the anime/manga fandom that if it’s not coming from Japan, it shouldn’t be there. Some comic conventions may be more welcoming, but again it depends on the personality of said convention. Some comic conventions really focus on the big publishers only, not the indies.
Also it’s not a bad idea to go to the convention before vending, or check with those that have to get their impressions. I have one convention once described to me (as close to the original conversation as I remember) as being characterized as ” a majority demographic that is male, and therefore it feels like a hetero sausage fest of mansplainers, so unless you want to dress up like a bimbo booth babe to flirt and inflate their egos (and they’re also thinking inflating some other things) in an attempt to peddle your books, don’t bother.”
Sometimes it’s other things you learn, high rates of theft at the convention, lack of adequate security, the place is fine during the day, but at night is very sketchy when you leave the event area. Bad behaving staffers or event organizers (everything from just being jerks in general, to being racists, bigots, sexists, etc.). Some cons are purely for profit, and some there are no salaries being paid as they are volunteer, so what you can expect can vary. Sometimes the event organizers and staff can be great to deal with, but maybe they do a very poor job of marketing. So it may be pleasant, but the sales just aren’t there because the turn out was so slight.
Sometimes it’s understanding the floor plan of where people are at a convention. I’ve seen some dealers shoved into these out of the way corners. Dealers in main areas see lots of people, but these out of the way nooks may mean very few every find you. Some of these things aren’t necessarily malicious on the part of event organizers, but they’re trying to accommodate as many as they can within the confines of the physical space. Event organizers can’t change where walls are, or are not for instance. Sometimes it can be they have convoluted rules about in booth signings (usually that’s at the very big conventions, when they’re worried about causing congestion due to crowds), or that any singings have to have a fee attached, or have to be given away in a lottery system at a certain time through the convention itself (not via you).
it’s also a good idea, go to a few conventions, look for vendors similar to you, and start to evaluate them seriously. Do they disappear? Do they stand out? What makes the booth look more appealing? How can you make a first impression that stands out? All too often I see people with signage at the table cloth, which if people are there you can’t read. People see things at eye level, what do you have at eye level to catch their attention, and how well lit is your area? (Sometimes you need to invest in your own portable lights that don’t rely on an electrical hookup. I’ve seen people unconsciously drawn towards the light, ignoring completely other booths, never noticing them because the overall room was sort of dim, and they had no supplemental light. Some conventions and festivals may require you to have liability insurance. Or may require you to pay their staff to assemble your booth (this later one is usually for the much larger conventions).
Unless there’s more recent data and analysis, last I read the most affective consumer strategy is referrals & recommendations (word of mouth). In publishing this we know is a proven strategy, people are always asking I like X series, or author. I’ve read all their stuff, can you recommend something similar I might also enjoy?
So the following data is based on general norms in the world of mainstream marketing (publishing will no doubt be similar, but will have variances unique to it’s own niche of consumers). Only 6% of consumers in general purchase goods without a recommendation. So if the attendance is 9,000 (using round numbers here), that means 540 are among those who’d purchase something without some sort of prior referral.
Of that percentage, you might be able to sway them with advertising (which your booth space could be set up as). But the most affective ads are things like TV spots, then newspaper ads (around 10%), and then internet ads (which rely heavily on video these days to be most effective). Last was billboards a still static image that only impacted purchasing decisions at less than half a percent of the time. So I’d personally think that a basic booth table, your books, maybe a still banner backdrop for signage at your table at a convention, would run somewhere between 10% – 0.5% effective. So if 10% effective, then you probably are looking at about 54 sales, if 0.5 effective 3 sales. That’s your base starting line. There are things you can do that can make your table stand out, marketing tactics to try to elevate it and bump that percentage up some. But usually this involves investing in your display above just the cost of your booth table, and the merch (books) you’re planning to sell. At some point you have to think about ROI (return on investment). If you’ve planning to hit several conventions, then your upstart costs of signage and stuff can be shared across multiple cons. But if you’re doing just one or two, you may never dig yourself out of that hole. You also have to realistically consider what your goal is, promotion, is very different from sales. Sometimes it may strategically make sense in the long run to take a bit of a loss, if you’re getting promotion out of it, interviews, panels, news articles, etc.
It might be more cost effective for you to invest in designing a 4×6 double sided postcard (use cardstock, not just flimsy paper) to be gang printed, and dropped into the swag bags convention attendees receive, make it eye catching, provide some marketing info, and then maybe a QR code that links people to a sample teaser of the book. There are ways of tracking those sorts of links, so you can tell how many people are using the link, and therefore how effective it was. If you print 9000 cards, but only 7 people follow that QR code, it didn’t do a lot of good. Some cons say they have a table for these sorts of ads, I find that absolutely ineffective unless you’re giving away posters, with art on one side, and marketing info on the back. If it’s not guaranteed to be in the swag bag, it’s probably not worth it.
You can print around 10,000 cards starting around $300+tax (prices will vary a bit based on who you use, and turn around, + any shipping costs). Up side to this strategy, it may be more effective than a booth, cuts down on hotel and food and travel expenses, and you’re not having to print/purchase/ship your own stuff to then go around and try to sell it at the convention.
Cons really are such a hit and miss thing.
Before going the con route, I’d suggest what bookstores are within a reasonable driving distance of where you live, and reach out to see if they might be willing to work with you on trying to do in store events and signings. Downside to this self publishing can make that tactic a bit harder to get into the mainstream bookstores. They rely heavily on receiving sales books from publishers to their buyers that have pre-order deadlines, and release dates published with marketing info, and the bookstore publishers use that as a tool when deciding what they’re purchasing as stock for their stores. Most indy publishers don’t have that step, and don’t inform the major bookstore buyers about their stuff, so to those bookstores, your stuff sort of doesn’t exist for any in-store placements. (Even if you can order it through online). Also libraries might help you out some too, but understand that route can be entangled by rules and regulations about people direct selling at their premises. But there’s things like bookclubs and maybe they’d be willing to set it up as one of the books tackled, especially if you can follow it up with like an in library readings with a Q&A with the author, in person events that maybe you can’t sell there, but if people bring your book with them to the event you can then go sign.
Fee Bricknell says
We had a similar problem with our dog. Started like yours, eventually totally paralyzed, now running running up the stairs happily. You want to know more send me an e-mail, as I don’t think this story belongs to here.
Thanks to this blog post and the replies, I’ve now added several new writers to my TBR pile! So thank you!
As many other commenters have said, all of your blog posts are interesting to me, and I particularly enjoy the ones that give an insight into the “behind the scenes” side of writing.
I love your blog regardless of topic. If it is a snippet, I will read it 10 ties (or more) to sate my desire for your new books. If it is about anything else, I usually learn something which sometimes helps me achieve my goal of learning one new interesting and/or practical thing a day. I like to learn things for fun too, btw.
Thanks to you, I have tried new types of tea, discovered a couple new-to-me authors who I really enjoy (Grace Draven & Intisar Khanani) and laughed uproariously. Today, through the comments, I discovered a couple new writers whose e-books I have just ordered out of curiosity.
I know the BDH can sometimes have some pretty unrealistic expectations and a few commenters (who I absolutely refuse to acknowledge as true BDH members????) can be shamefully tactless or thankless but I truly believe most of us just really enjoy your writing – be it books or blog.
Barbie Aschenbrenner says
I love your posts!!
Judy Schultheis says
I have a friend who lives a couple of miles from me. We rarely see each other because she and her sister, with whom she lives, have serious health issues. I have grandchildren – charming little vectors, they are.
My friend and I can talk for hours on the phone when you are posting the chapters for a new Innkeeper, and we had some truly fun arguments about where you were taking Blood Heir. The only thing both of us got right was which funny bits would stay in the final story. I really liked that fight in the original version just before the hodag showed up – I hope you can find a place to use it.
I make sure to call my friend (I check every day, she doesn’t) when you post something that makes me laugh hard enough my belly hurts.
In fact, the sister had to have surgery about six weeks ago, and I was under strict orders to make sure my friend had something to think about other than medical issues.
Your posts on this blog made it very easy to follow those orders.
Not an author, but that’s pretty much what I would have figured. Just too many other expenses.
I’ve got to admit, tho, once I find an author I like, I make a real effort to get pretty much everything they’ve written. In your case, I originally picked up the second Innkeeper and was hooked. I managed to buy print or ebook copies of everything else over the next six months. And then moved on to audiobooks. lol And of course I checked for a website so I’d know about new books, thus finding your serializations and the blog. Yes, I have an addiction, ha. I could wish some of my other authors had such a fun blog, but then I’d never get anything done.
This means a lot. As an newbie indie, I’m dying to get exposure. You’re very right they’re are people exploiting the indie authors, esp new authors who are hoping to reach more readers.
This is a simple, sensible calculation that I should have been able to do but sometimes, when I’m desperate, the things I think don’t always make sense until someone points out the obvious.
Thank you for the post.
Debi Murray says
Funny you should mention this because BookLoversCon will be happening at the Omni Orlando in Champions Gate in mid December this year. TWO MILES FROM MY HOUSE! When will that happen again in my lifetime? I think I have transportation and lodging handled this year.
Krystine Watson says
I’m totally one of those people that loves a series and therefore an author and then reads (and re-reads) everything they’ve released. You two are at the very top of my list, I’m pretty sure I own everything you’ve published. I usually find new reads by association with what I already know I love, basically recommendations from others who’ve read it, the authors who wrote it, and sometimes via Amazon style “because you read XYZ…” recommendations.
Leslie S. says
“If only there was ANY OTHER series out there written by someone who writes just like us.“
This made me laugh out loud.
blog and comments are well worth reading
After reading the first few comments, I had to post. I check the blog almost every day. It’s a bright spot that I can count on no matter what else is going on. If I miss a day and later find two entries, it’s like Christmas! Your lives, like your characters, are so relatable. I don’t care what you write about: pets, household expenses, kids, snarky comments from readers, etc. I especially appreciate when you talk about your experiences as authors. After twenty years of trying to write, I am finally making some legitimate progress on my first book and enjoying the process. There are a few reasons for that, but this blog is one of them. Your practical advice and humor make writing as a career seem so much more doable.
Bill G says
To quote a certain green-blooded menace to mental stability, “Fascinating.” For my part, my growing dislike of crowds long pre-dates covid. So I’ll just miss out on the fun, and the hassle.
For those who partake, enjoy!
Yea I definitely went to a romantic times event in DC and bought like 10 books and HAVE YET TO READ A SINGLE ONE…smh. That being said, when I read your books and fell in love with your writing, I read every single one of your series. Ultimately once you get the reader, and they love your writing, it’s likely they’ll fall on love, but you have to get the reader first, which best happens through good writing and solid promotion (and not likely through these events…clearly explained through my lack of reading those books from the con)
I have asthma and have to use a nebulizer twice a day, so twenty minutes of the morning and evening are ‘spoken for’. I like to use that time to check your blog and read the BDH comments. Though I don’t often post, I do check in.
I apprecate your warmth, generosity, and the frankness you bring to the blog… as well as the BDH’s vibrant interacterions with the content. You and the BDH enrich my world with your participation in this blog. Your posts help me look forward to this time of day, though I admit it’s kinda hard to take deep breaths of medicated mist when I’m laughing at the misadventures and clever replies. You and the BDH brighten my days, while the snippets you treat us to are the icing on the cake.
As an aspiring writer, I greatly appreciate it when you lift the curtain and share how the business of writing goes, especially since much of the old business advice from grandmother’s days no longer applies. And you give us actual numbers to work with, which is a plus (and rare). You two (and your team) do a great job building reader engagement, and I regularly recommend my writing friends check out your site for ideas on how to have a successful writing presence online.
Have you found that virtual chats like the one you did for the Blood Heir release work better than attending cons?
Oops, posted in the wrong spot, was meant to post under John G Hartness. 🙂
Moderator R says
I took care of the duplicate for you 🙂
Chantay Hadley says
This was a great question and extremely helpful advice.
It sounds like local fairs and cons are the best idea.
I read your posts because I like hearing your take on life and books .
Angela Knight says
I agree on the cost issue. But I must say I loved going to Romantic Times and RWA events, because I loved the heck out of talking to readers. I live in a town where I’m the only writer I know. Getting to talk to readers and having them enthuse about my stuff could do wonders to keep me writing. And taking to other writers was a blast. I remember having breakfast with you and Gordon a decade or so ago. It was such fun. I miss those days a LOT.
Your posts make my down time at work much more exciting, its like ack this lunch break takes so long but ooohh!! Ilona posted, yay!
Like many of the above, I fail at knitting, but reading your enjoyment of it is fun.
I agree as a reader I do my reserch try out authors and so on on line not at fairs
After reading your posts I took up knitting again after a 30 year hiatus. So far I have knitted a sweater for each of my grandchildren and a beautiful sweater for myself! So fun….. An expensive hobby lol. I check the blog everyday because no matter the content it always makes me smile! I thoroughly enjoy everyone’s responses. Thank you for bringing smiles to our faces!
Dear Ilona, I love your Kate Daniels series. I adore the way you write. Do you know of any authors that write like you because I would like more books like yours?
P.S. Of course I meant to say that I also love all of your other series and have read everything in the InnKeeper, The Edge and Hidden Legacy series and also The World of the Kinsmen and also tracked down every single short story and novella that you have ever written even when it meant buying an anthology just to read one story and I’ve even read Questing Beast multiple times. So. You know. Help?
Moderator R says
The Recommended Reads tag will lead you to your treasure https://ilona-andrews.com/category/recommended-read/
Also, the big open thread of BDH recommends https://ilona-andrews.com/2018/open-thread-for-author-and-blog-recommendations/
I hope this helps 🙂
Thank you, Moderator R!
Maria Schneider says
Not Ilona Andrews, but an avid reader who also loves the books here. Maybe try Jami Gray’s Grave Cargo (Arcane Transporter series). Lovely, lovely stuff, fast paced and I think bears some similarities in writing style to the Ilona Andrews team. Also just finished and think might also work Amber Fisher’s Temple of the Inner Flame–really great book with family nuances, a good mystery, some tight writing and a romance that needs fixing! And not exactly Ilona Andrews, but has that same sense of fun to it, the Keely and Associates series by Layla Lawlor might also be a good fit. It’s not heart-pounding turn the pages type of style, but the characters and heart of the story are wonderful throughout the series. The first is Dragon and Detective.
Thank you, Maria – when my Andrews withdrawal level hits critical I’ll take this list on an ebook buying spree 🙂
Whilst I don’t check blog posts daily (rely on them popping up in my inbox, yippee), I love all the blog posts, not just the ones with bonus fiction (windfall!).
As a non-author, it’s really interesting to get insights onto the whole writing & publishing industry & brings an appreciation beyond the “simple” mechanics of putting pen to paper (plots, dialogue, etc) & all the other supporting stuff you have to consider, know & do. Makes me admire you guys even more that you’ve continued to write & bring pleasure to so many of us & be so successful with it. Love your books!
I very much appreciate when you share the behind the scenes writing business posts. They have been priceless for the sheer common sense and practical un-mystical advice they contain.
There is so much change happening in the industry, and still so many people offering „spells and enchantments“ by way of advice rather than the practical.
Add in the bonus knowledge in the comments and it’s a goldmine.
Thank you for sharing!
Eileen Hamilton says
Interesting post. I’m a reader, not a writer, but it makes me appreciate you guys even more. The first thing I do when I find an author I love, is buy everything they’ve ever written. There’s nothing better than finding someone you like who has a large catalog of books! Kate Daniels was my first series, but it’s not my favorite. Sadly, now I have to wait for a new book to be published. There are other authors who write somewhat similar series, but they’re just not as good as you are!
Diane Hughes says
I read your blog every day and very much look forward to doing so. And, I like others have commented, like it best when it is not a snippet. I love it when you write about pets, kids, home, publishing, friendships (I’ve started reading everything written by Jeanine Frost because of your comments about her), and life in general. Thank you for the generosity of your time.
I learn so much from you. I have never aspired to be a writer but I always appreciate your insights into the industry and the obvious hard lessons that have been learned along the way.
I dabble in self pub but also just really enjoy the book conventions. So, speaking mainly as an attendee, I say go if you’re going to enjoy it, or for the networking / back room partying with other authors if that’s your kind of thing. The author tables and author readings that I’ve seen never seem to do that well – though I got to watch a Steven Brust reading one time for his then upcoming book which was really exciting, and Elizabeth Moon, oh my… but I digress. Also I’m already a fan of both and even those readings wern’t well attended. I also got to listen to Ilona talk on a panel for about 15 minutes once at our small local convention, which was lovely, but most of the authors there go because they have a group of author friends who also attend every year. Its a blast. 🙂 I see going to a convention or two as a potentially fun perk of being an author, not as much of a marketing benefit, though I suspect it can be useful for small publishers to have a table at them.
Oh heck – post whatever/whenever you want! We clearly enjoy hearing from you 🙂
Thanks for all you do to keep us amused, engaged and just generally stoke the enormous appetites of the BDH… I (and I am sure I speak for us all) love and really appreciate your work. Am heading out to walk the dog soon and will have Sapphire Flames and Catalina in my ears (am re-listening to the Hidden Legacy series and can’t decide if it’s more or less fun to start from the beginning while knowing all the spoilers about Alessandro. I will go with more 😉
I love your advice to hopeful writers/authors. Always insightful on publishing biz and even though I’m not a writer, I’m more informed & can be more thoughtful on purchasing and platforms.
Ok on the comment…are there any other author like you out there….I’m like that too because…..I can read faster than you can publish ANDI love you’re books
Maria Schneider says
Self published author here. The only way a festival is worth it is if the table cost is very low and/or you are allowed to share the table with another author(s) and split the cost. Many festivals will not allow this. You have to buy enough of your own books that you can get the price you sell at down to around $5 or $6 dollars. You’ll sell some at $10 if you ask 10, but it’s easier to go for volume. I’ve done low-cost tables. I don’t pay more than about $35 so these are small festivals. I have tried various pricing–$5 dollar specials is a sweet spot. Try to have some of your books at $5. You can move more books over there later if you sell out of the $5 ones. That spot on the table is “special buy.” Try to take a freebie SOMETHING if you can–it can be a link to a free book–that also lists all your other books, free cloth book bags to give out with every purchase (I sew so this is an easy one for me), something like a bookmark that also has your name and books…etc. Have more of your “first in series” on hand than any other books. If you do not have a lot of books to sell (at least 10) you may want to go in with another author to keep conversation and books moving. I write in several genres (cozy mysteries, urban fantasy, fantasy romance, modern Western) so I have an advantage. Thrillers seem to get a lot interest, but I don’t write those, but I see a lot of authors who do write them do well at festivals. Romance does well, especially-especially if you can hit the $5 dollar mark. Do I make money at these? Generally I make a profit. A small one. But I have never paid for a hotel or travel other than gas so I’ve only done them within driving distance. Make it fun. Take someone with you to talk with. Take some snacks and definitely water or something to sip on. Maybe some hard candy. You’ll talk a lot, most likely. Take a tablecloth in case they aren’t provided (they usually aren’t and sometimes you have to bring your own table too). Have fun doing it because it can be difficult to make a profit! Oh–another author friend of mine took hand-made paper flowers. She said they are easy to make and she can hand them out to children or with every book sold and also use them to decorate the table. I do not personally know how to make them, but I think she made them out of napkins. I am sure the web knows.
Back in the 90’s, my husband and I enjoyed going to science fiction conventions, just to enjoy the experience. We also often bought a booth and sold stained glass / etched glass creations, but it was always more of a side-line, because it seldom paid for itself. We often looked at it as a win if we sold enough to pay for the booth, entry tickets, and a meal or two. We usually stayed with friends in that location, so no hotel costs.
Authors who had booths had physical copies of their self-published books, as e-books weren’t even a thing at that time. It was a labor of love for them, as I never saw any of them moving enough books to really make a profit.
The adventure, the thrill, the JOY of reading is to see an author’s name you have read before, especially when you loved it and take that chance … that … Ummm I wonder what they done did now …
Thank you for choosing to write
In defense of those that ask for book recommendations, I think many of us have read (and re-read!) all the Ilona Andrews titles there are and feverishly hunt for books that might be similar (but just don’t quite have the IA magic!)
Kat in NJ says
Seeing all of the work and decisions that go into the whole process, from creating to selling IA books, makes me appreciate them even more! ????
Sherry Bacon-Graves says
I find your blogs interesting and I have read everyone of your books. I do not need to know about other authors because I have a list of 2000 or more books I am reading at this time. All your blogs are interesting even if it is not free fiction but free fiction is what got me on to the Sweep series. I am glad you are still writing and keeping us entertained.
For all the authors on here looking for an audience…I now ready only ebooks, as my hands are bad and I can’t hold open a regular book for long. So the main way I find new authors to try is through emails from Bookbub, Kindle Unlimited, Amazon, etc usually books that are free or discounted for a time. TITLES and BOOK COVERS that attract my eye are most likely the ones I will take the time to read the blurb to see if the book sounds interesting enough to invest my time and money. In less it looks really good or an author I love, the BDH or a friend recommend a book, I won’t spend much money to try an author out. The other way I find new authors is anthologies…especially if one of the stories in the anthology is by an author I really like. I like anthologies that have stories from an existing series; if I like a new author, I will purchase the series.
I love all these “behind the scenes” questions. Thank you for answering questions. I’d never given much thought to how books get in my hand.
I enjoy all the posts! I’ve recommended your blog for information about the industry and the free reads to people for new converts. The blog is always interesting and much appreciated by me.
Eileen Troemel says
I’ve gone to events. At one the promoter did a terrible job and I sold less than five books. At another I sold more but still spent more on the books, swag, and event, than I made. I did not ever see a surge of sales after the events.
Amy Laurens says
I did in-person launches for the first handful of my books. They were ‘very successful’ by the bookstore’s standards, i.e. I had about 40-50 attendees and sold about 20 books. Not bad, except that I had also provided snacks and nibblies, and so came out about even. Worth it for my first couple of books I think to establish a little bit of an audience, but even then it was mostly people who already know me in person, and those sales are always going to die off as you publish more and more books, because often people are buying because they like YOU, not BOOKS, and as the novelty factor diminishes so too does their purchasing (completely fair).
I’ve moved in the last 12 months to using Kickstarter to do the same thing instead. I see a lot of authors trying to run a KS to cover their production costs, but a) my production costs are low to begin with and b) I’m going to publish the book anyway, so the KS isn’t about funding the book. So I use it as a launch: set a low ask to ensure that the campaign will fund, because some money is better than no money, and see how many “preorder” sales I can rack up there. In four campaigns over the last twelve months, we’re averaging 25 – 35 backers i.e. book sales, so it’s the same as/slightly better than a physical bookstore launch, except Kickstarter only takes 10% instead of the bookstore’s 40%, and there’s no cost to me to run the campaign (only time to make graphics) vs. a hundred bucks in snacks for an in-person launch.
Conventions, markets, etc – meh. Worst case scenario I went to a dedicated SFF con (the only one in my city) and sold zip. Best case scenario, I took a stall to my kids’ school’s Christmas markets because they were desperate for vendors, and sold about 9 books over three nights. I’ll keep doing the Christmas markets to support the school and because it’s a fun atmosphere, but otherwise, it’s a big ol’ meh.
Jane N says
Do you have any plans to attend any future conventions? I’m very curious of the ones you plan to attend and see if it matches my travel plans. If it does, I would not hesitate to attend so I can meet you & Gordon in person.
I was able to attend a couple of your online talks and absolutely LOVED them. I felt even more vested (if that’s even possible as I’m already 100% hooked) in all things Ilona Andrews. I’m hoping to attend more online chats or meet you both in person.
Maddox Grey says
I always appreciate posts like these! I’m working on publishing my first book later this year. I’m going the self publishing route and have been doing a lot of research in-between writing/editing. There’s so much out there for self publishing authors and it really does feel like a lot of it is scammy or simply not worth the money once you do the math.
Paulette M Smith says
Please keep posting! I get my IA fix by email and it’s always worth reading! Love the look behind the green curtain about the industry! Love the tidbits on normal family life. I’ve lately felt like I’m the only person on the planet who avoids Amazon and refuses to join Facebook. Finding your blog has been a breath of fresh air! Plus, if I have a question I’ve discovered I can do a search on your blog as someone surely has asked it before.
Seeing an email notice that a new blog from Ilona Andrews always makes me smile. I love reading them not matter what the contents.
I share all the writer’s information with my son who wants to be an author someday.
This blog was a blast seeing posts from other authors I read. (Angela Knight! Squeeeee!)
Thank you HA!
Johanna J says
Oh, my gosh! Funny. Sorry, can’t help laughing but I’m hoping the rest of your bath was a little more relaxing…
Johanna J says
Oops. That was a comment for a later post. On top of things as usual.
I regularly check the blog posts, though I often ignore the snippets and prefer to wait for the books. I love the variety – the blogs are always well written and engaging; being from the UK I also find the cultural differences interesting US, Russia etc – so please do keep posting whenever you have time and inclination. (Your Russian flu remedies reminder me of my mum’s Polish remedies ????). Also very amused by your control/moderation of the BDH.
I am in another field…one where “markets” are the activity. I have, when producing a really new line, attended/had a table at these occasions.
When very local. When I can take just three (samples) of anything I want to sell.
And when I can take my entire collection of business cards (I have four at the moment!) The purpose is not to sell but to get a reasonable advert.
Totally love all of your posts. I think it’s great to learn about afield of work that is different from mine, but gets me my favourite source of entertainment. The stories about the kids, pets, and life adventures are awesome too. The same snese of humour comes through that I love in your novels. Bonus points for owning the real Oliver North after rescuing him from pet smart.
I really like ALL your blog posts. Of course the snippets are for all fans, a favorite, but I also like to know more about my fav authors, what makes them tic, what makes them laugh, and I love the fact that you guys share this with us humble fans.
I find it precious, even more so than the next snippet.
Because it makes me feel that we (your fans) aren’t just cash cows. That you care about us, enough to share some of your intimacy.
Doing this blog, on top of everything else takes TIME, and the deities know that you are busy enough.
So anything you share with us, whether a snippet, or a pic of your last wool buying frenzy,makes me happy.
Robert I. Katz says
I agree completely regarding the finances. I usually spent 500 bucks or so to go to a conference for a weekend and the books I sold never came close to making it worthwhile financially. I went, however, because I enjoyed it. They were usually in cities worth going to with restaurants much better (or at least different) than those closer to home. Also, over the years, I became good friends with at least a couple of other authors and my wife and I enjoyed spending time with them. If you look at it as a mini-vacation, or at least a pleasant weekend away, then it might be worth doing.
Thank you for the info! I share these posts with my writer friends to help them better understand the industry.
Yes- I check the blog weekly for my House Andrews fix. These updates are such a treat.
Mary S says
I love your blog posts as well! They make waiting for your next book more bearable. I save them for the weekend and read them all at once. Side note, I love the picture of books forming a circle. I wish I would have thought to try that with all of the old books my parents kept in the house.
Nif Lindsay says
I *LOVE* your blog, and often shared your industry comments with the other students in the Book Publishing graduate program I just finished. (Ooligan Press at PSU… always got a kick when another student would squeal on the listserv “Omg, love IA!”)
I’ve managed booths at various festivals and vendors over the years, and while the profit doesn’t pencil out, gathering the marketing connections was really important: how else does one build that mailing list, when you aren’t big enough to be in a distributor yet?
I just launched our children’s book pub house, and I’ve been counting on getting back to local festivals and events to build our mailing list up. I love Kickstarter (I did my thesis on it!), but in order to break out of your core True Believers, you’ve got to get in front of the public somehow?
I’m reading all the comments, and it sounds like folks think that advertising is a better use of marketing money. But also, don’t fall for scammers. Sigh.
Discouraged, but I think I’m still going to take my smile and my picture chapbooks and hit local events at least, because this extrovert has been pretty miserable for the past year+, despite the treasures of things like this blog.
If anyone has any suggestions on which advertising venues are good for authors, I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d love to hear their recommendations!
Thanks for blogging, Team Andrews – you make a difference for us all.
I appreciate your log entries, regardless of topic. I read them as faithfully as I read and pre-order your fiction (mostly audible format). You are one of only a few authors who I enjoy rereading and listening to your work. You have the only newsletter that I open 100% of the time.
I appreciate your writing style and humor! But more importantly I appreciate how you share your process, be it writing, business, or setting boundaries. While some folks take pride in bring the gatekeepers of knowledge, you open the halls of learning, sharing your time with more grace than I could.
Thank you for your posts, and so much more!
Faith Hunter says
I’m with you. I never made a dime at a convention. It’s all in the red. If I go, it’s because I can drive and the con is footing the hotel bill.
It could be different for others, but I follow your blog bc everything you write is so dang interesting, yes, even when writing about subjects that usually don’t interest me. We love YOU. I can’t help but think if you were to fill a room with your followers we would all become friends bc we have this in common. Thank you for all you do.
Grace Draven says
I’ve never made any money from the conventions I’ve attended. Always a financial loss. That being said, I knew from the get-go such would be the case. It’s really an indulgence to attend and why I only go to one every other year (if that). I make an exception for the small one-day event called PopCon hosted by the San Antonio Library. A very well run con with enthusiastic attendees and plenty to do. And it’s free. I’m also all for supporting our libraries.
I’ve attended PopCon twice as a guest author and would go again if invited. Both times we treated it as a family event where my kids and Mr. Draven cosplayed various characters and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The first year I attended, I was seated next to Michael Moorcock (author of the Elric of Melnibone series). I’m a huge fangirl of the Elric character, so meeting and talking with Michael was a real treat. The following year, I was seated next to Charlaine Harris and was able to have lunch in the green room with her and Ilona (she and Gordon were also guest authors that year).
I was able to hang out with authors whose work I enjoyed as well as called friends. I also met and chatted with readers who drove from other states to meet me and get books signed. It was amazing and humbling.
That being said, the SA PopCon is within driving distance of my house, the con provided lunch for their guests, and the books I brought with me were slated as give-aways and provided by my publishers. I didn’t bring any of my self published titles. So while I made no money, my expenses were limited to gas driving to and from the con as well as my time (which I considered well-spent there).
Since I’ve also attended big cons in other states, I have a basis of comparison. Both are fun, but the small, local cons I’ve attended aren’t nearly as devastating on the budget. For what I spent attending the bigger ones, I would have been better served funneling that money toward Amz and FB ads if the goal was to increase book sales. Cons are fun, a great way to network, and meet lovely readers and authors. And with a few exceptions, they’re also prohibitively expensive.