Monday, July 23, 2018

Is That Convention or Festival a Good Fit For Authors?

Getting out to events is a great way to network, learn, and sell books. But not all conventions and festivals are the same. You have to know exactly what kind of audience they attract and go prepared. Otherwise, you might be disappointed.

Book Festivals
Usually these are geared towards readers and encourage the purchase of books. Some are a few hours long while others span a three-day weekend. Be aware of the cost of a table or booth and if there will be travel expenses. Check past attendance and talk to authors/publishers who attended the previous year. A high-cost table coupled with hotel expenses will likely result in a financial loss - unless exposure is also a major goal of yours. They also provide a great opportunity to network with other authors/publishers.

Book Expos
These are often similar to book festivals, but some expos are geared toward the publishing industry and book buyers. (Think Book Expo where publishers give out hundreds of free books.) It might be a better opportunity for networking.

Writer Conferences and Conventions
Geared toward writers, these are rarely good opportunities for selling books unless your book is aimed specifically at writers and authors. It is a great opportunity for networking and learning, as there will be many panels and sessions during the event. There may even be publishers and agents on hand to take pitches.

Sci-fi and Comic Conventions
Geared toward fans of sci-fi, comic books, horror, etc., these are good for selling books in the sci-fi, fantasy, graphic novel, comic book, and horror genre. Again, check price of booth and past attendance. There are opportunities for networking, plus you can place ads in the program guide and offer giveaways for bags and auctions.

Trade Show
A trade show is geared toward one basic type of product - boat shows, car shows, etc. They attract an audience that is interested in purchasing that type of product or has one and is a big fan. If your book fits the subject matter and would be of interest to attendees, it might be a good opportunity. Again, check booth cost and previous year’s attendance.

Art Festivals & Fairs
These feature artistic and craft items, along with a ton of food and general vendors. Sometimes books are considered art and sometimes not. They are usually not the best place to sell books though. Research each one carefully before considering.

General Festivals
These tend to focus even more on food and general vendors. Only with a very specific and targeted book will you sell well if at all.

Know what type of convention or festival you are looking for and research carefully before plunking down money for a table or booth. And always go in with an open mind, a good attitude, and a willingness to network.

Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. will be at a sci-fi convention July 27-29 - Raleigh Supercon.

We’ve sent bookmarks for giveaway bags and books for auctions and door prizes and we’ve placed ads in program guides. But this will be the first time we’ve had a booth at a science fiction convention.

Attendance for this event was huge last year (its first one) and it came highly recommended by another author. Factor in the cost ($425 for the booth which includes two $75 3-day passes) and the fact it’s within driving distance every day, and we decided it was worth the investment to see what happens.

We also booked three other smaller shows - Cape Fear Comic Con in Wilmington, NC on Aug. 25, Fayetteville Comic Con on Oct. 20-21, and Fanta Sci in Raleigh, NC on Mar. 22-24, 2019.

We’ll be taking photos of cosplayers (holding our books of course) and posting them on Instagram all weekend. Follow us there for some fun photos from the event.

We also posted a pre-show video on Thursday night:

Of course, if you can, come see us this weekend, July 27-29, and register to win free books!

Tuesday, July 03, 2018

The Insecure Writer's Support Group and Murder at the Marina

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, founded by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh.

We are posting a day early since Wednesday is the 4th of July here in the US.

The IWSG’s Twitter pitch party is July 19. You don’t want to miss this opportunity. We signed a wonderful book coming out this September, Bubba and Squirt’s Big Dig to China, from a #IWSGPit tweet.

Today’s question - What are your ultimate writing goals, and how have they changed over time (if at all)?

I started off with the goal of published author when I was 13. I’m now the author of 5 fiction and 2 non-fiction books.

While I still want to continue writing - and I am working on something now - my goals shifted to publisher. Now my goal is to help the authors we sign achieve their goals.

One of those authors is visiting today. She’s part of the IWSG anthology Hero Lost: Mysteries of Death and Life and here to talk about her own book.

Murder at the Marina

One day, when we were living in Scotland, my husband announced that he wanted to sell everything we own, buy a sailboat, move aboard, and go cruising. I assumed he had developed some form of early dementia and changed the subject. Then he mentioned it again, and again, and again. Turns out this wasn't just a passing fancy. He was serious about this boating stuff and went on a number of sailing trips with his buddies, as well as crewing on boats in the Mediterranean.

When we moved to New Zealand, he was beside himself with excitement. Auckland is known as the “City of Sails” and it was here that he put his “Brainwash Ellen into Loving Sailing” campaign into operation. We chartered boats a few times and it turns out that it was kind of fun. Eventually, I suggested that we could save money by buying our own small sailboat, rather than chartering. That's when he declared his campaign to be a success. We were buying a sailboat and it was my idea.

My experience getting into sailing isn't unusual. Often, it's the guy in the relationship who dreams about getting a boat and the woman gradually warms to the idea over time (or doesn't). When I decided to write a cozy mystery series, I thought it would be fun to make the main character, Mollie McGhie, a reluctant sailor turned amateur sleuth. Her husband, Scooter, like mine, is obsessed with sailing, so obsessed that he thought presenting Mollie with a dilapidated sailboat for their wedding anniversary was a good idea. He couldn't have been more wrong.

I enjoyed writing about Mollie's reactions to the sailboat, her confusion over sailing terminology, and her experiences learning to sail, as well as have her meet the different types of characters you might encounter at a marina. You could say that there's a little bit of me in Mollie, especially when it comes to our love of chocolate. Although, I do draw the line at investigating murders.

Over the course of the series, Mollie will encounter other aspects of boating life that may not exactly be her cup of tea, while investigating mysterious happenings. Perhaps Scooter will suggest that they sell their house and all their belonging and move onto their boat full-time. Mollie may have to learn to cook on board in rough weather in a cramped, overheated galley. They may join in a regatta and sail to the Bahamas. Maybe something will go terribly wrong with their boat, requiring repairs while at sea. The possibilities are endless.

If you want to follow along as Mollie learns to sail and solves murders, the first book in the series, Murder at the Marina, is available now and the second book, Bodies in the Boatyard, will be released later this year.

Print ISBN 978-1-7321602-1-7
eBook ISBN 978-1-7321602-0-0
A Mollie McGhie Cozy Sailing Mystery #1

Mollie McGhie is hoping for diamonds for her tenth wedding anniversary. Instead, her husband presents her with a dilapidated sailboat. Just one problem—she doesn’t know anything about boats, nor does she want to.

When Mollie discovers someone murdered on board, she hopes it will convince her husband that owning a boat is a bad idea. Unfortunately, he’s more determined than ever to fix the boat up and set out to sea.

Mollie finds herself drawn into the tight-knit community living at Palm Tree Marina in Coconut Cove, a small town on the Florida coast. She uncovers a crime ring dealing in stolen marine equipment, investigates an alien abduction, eats way too many chocolate bars, adopts a cat, and learns far more about sailing than she ever wanted to.

Can Mollie discover who the murderer is before her nosiness gets her killed?

Ellen Jacobson writes mystery and sci-fi/fantasy stories. She is the author of the “Mollie McGhie Sailing Mystery” series. She lives on a sailboat with her husband, exploring the world from the water. When she isn't working on boat projects or seeking out deserted islands, she blogs about their adventures at The Cynical Sailor.

How has your ultimate writing goal changed? And what would you do if your husband got you a sailboat for your anniversary?