Promoting your book to the converted: AussieCon 4 from an author’s perspective

Today I have a guest blog from sf&f author, m a miller. The World Science Fiction Convention, AussieCon 4, was in Melbourne this year. Miller bravely decided to promote her new book to the diehard fans. Here is her story …

AussieCon 4: We have lift off …
Every year for the past 68 years the World Science Fiction Convention has taken place somewhere in the world. Yes, you guessed it, this five-day extravaganza is a coming together of all things Science Fiction or Fantasy. Authors, illustrators and fans alike converge to discuss the most recent speculative fiction, how it relates to world events and what the future may hold.

It’s also where the coveted – to those in the know – Hugo Awards for all things SF take place. Oh to be on the receiving end of one of those!

So imagine my joy when, as a newly-published science fiction & fantasy writer I discovered that 2010 was the year of World Con’s return to Melbourne. It’s only the fourth time it has landed on our shores. Oh yeah! Oh bliss! How can I get involved?

For a newbie author it is quite daunting to get ‘noticed’ in among all the other books out there. I write young adult speculative fiction and the YA market is huge. And growing. And there are some great big looming titles out there. Anyone here heard of Harry Potter? The Twilight Saga?

So who should I target my publicity at? For that matter, how do I get any publicity?

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan —  and of course, Australia.

Houston, we have a problem!
So I took my proposal to my publisher at alto books. Would he be interested in getting some exposure for his science fiction & fantasy books to a dedicated audience? Would he please book and pay for both a table in the dealers’ room and for my ticket and in exchange I will ‘man’ the table?

It took a while, but after some persuasive – okay, maybe begging would be a better word – emails he finally agreed. Only to discover that all the dealer’s tables were fully booked. Oh the disappointment. But such is life and I thought no more of it until three days before the event when an email landed in my inbox saying that a table was now free and would I still like to go? Yeah baby!

Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, a Doctor Who, vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and characters of unknown origin wandered past

Publicity: The final frontier …
On day one of AussieCon 4 I set up the alto books table with a great deal of trepidation – after all, I was squashed between Borders (who knew they had so much Sci-Fi/Fantasy stuff?) and Penguin (they had raffles and games! Why didn’t I think of that?) I only had a very small list of books to sell.

As Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, Doctor Who (an incarnation as Tom Baker rather than the current Matt Smith), vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and various characters from unknown (to me, that is) origins wandered past I soon realised that my larger bookseller neighbours were in fact attracting more people to my table. They would stop and chat and meet the author. What? Oh yes, that was me as the big sign I’d printed attested to.

The result? Discussions on all things Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Fans of the genre. Fans of books. And yes, book sales. Oh my!

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan …  and of course, Australia. And an absolute thrill to know that copies of my book – signed, of course — are winging their way to all of these countries.

It was an even greater thrill that the Fan Guest of Honour bought a copy!

Aussiecon 4: A learning experience
Would I do things differently? You bet. I should have been on a discussion panel or two (yeah, I know, it was the ‘known’ writers who were represented but I can dream!).

Mis'ka: Rite of ascension

m a miller's new book

I had bookmarks that I handed out but I now feel that I should have been wandering the halls of the Melbourne Convention Centre and shoving them at all and sundry.

It can be difficult to spruik your wares but the great thing about AussieCon 4 was that I was spruiking to the converted – these were people who want Sci-Fi, who get Fantasy and who, in many cases, actually dress up to prove it.

So my five days of standing and signing turned out to be a fun weekend with results – I also sold many of the other alto books as well.

Would I do it again? You bet. Bring on the 69th World Con. It’s in Nevada and will be known as Renovation – best I get saving!

Bio
m a miller’s debut novel, Mis’Ka: Rite of Ascension was released earlier this year by alto books. Miller has assisted in the development of an animated children’s television series as well as a live action kid’s show. She has won short story competitions and worked in the script department for
Blue Heelers.

In her spare time, miller finds time to swim, walk her dogs and eat (lots) of chocolate – not necessarily at the same time!

Weblinks

Click here for m a miller’s website.

Click here to visit the website for AussieCon 4.

And here for the website for the 69th World Science Fiction Convention in 2011.

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