AussieCon 4: Self-promotion on the world stage

Today I have a guest blog from YA science fiction author, George Ivanoff. George offers an author’s perspective on AussieCon 4.

Self-promotion on the world stage
By George Ivanoff

Recently I attended Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. It’s the fourth time that this annual world convention has been held in Melbourne. As a long-time science fiction fan, I’ve attended three of these four conventions.

But this time, the experience was a little different. It was brought into focus for me when I had dinner with some interstate friends. One of those friends said to me: “This must be really different for you. The last time you attended a Worldcon you did so as a fan … this time around you’re here as an author”.

It was true. I wasn’t there just to enjoy myself, I was there to promote.

The promotion was in a dual capacity. Firstly I was there to promote my YA science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest. This was particularly important as my publisher, Ford Street Publishing, had a table in the dealers’ room. Secondly, I was there to promote myself generally as a writer, which involved networking with the editors and publishers in attendance.

My involvement with the convention actually began many months ago. I submitted a number of suggestions for panel discussions that I could participate in. These were:

“Game on! Games and YA spec fic”
This panel was about the use of games, particularly computer games, in YA fiction. This worked in nicely with Gamers’ Quest, which is set entirely within a computer game environment.

“Playing in someone else’s sandpit: franchise writing”
I’ve done a small amount of franchise writing — a Doctor Who short story and a Behind the News book. It is an area of writing that I would like to pursue further. So I thought it would be good to be on a panel with a bunch of authors who had more experience that I. And it was.

“Making a living: Professional writing for speculative fiction authors”
This was a panel discussing how to actually make a living from writing. It gave me the opportunity to talk about the different types of writing I do and to make it clear to any editors and publishers in the audience that I was always on the look-out for new writing opportunities.

I also put my name down to appear on a number of other panels. Some (like “YA science fiction – a guy thing?”) were directly related to my writing, while others (like “We are all fairy tales: Doctor Who’s fifth season”) were not. But they all helped to get my name out there. Of course, I also did a reading and a book signing, as well as doing a couple of items on the kids’ program.

Was it worth it? Did I achieve anything? YES! At the very least, my presence at the convention helped my publisher to sell copies of Gamers’ Quest. YA fiction is popular beyond its target audience, so the fact that most of the attendees were adults didn’t seem to harm sales.

I also made some good professional contacts, which I am now in the process of following up. The convention had an entire stream of panels dedicated to YA literature. I learned a lot about current trends, publishers and what editors were looking for, by attending panels in this stream.

So, YES, the experience was definitely worth it, in many ways. If Australia ever hosts another Worldcon, I’ll be there!

And I did manage to find the time to have fun as well. If you’re interested in a more general round-up of my experiences at Aussiecon 4, check out my post, Aussiecon 4 Memories at my blog, Literary Clutter.

Cover for Gamers' Quest

The cover for Gamers' Quest

George’s bio
George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home Dad residing in Melbourne. He has written over 40 books for children and teenagers. His latest novel, Gamers’ Quest, is currently in bookstores. Two of his books have been on the booklist for the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge since its inception in 2005.

George has also had stories published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Click here to check out George’s website.

More info about Gamers’ Quest is available from the official website.

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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.

How did you get published? Pt 2 of an interview with m a miller

This is part 2 of an interview with SF author m a miller. miller’s first novel, Mis’ka – The Rite of Ascension is coming out at the end of April.

Did you do anything to build your profile as a writer prior to getting published?

I have a website and joined Authors Den. AuthorsDen is a way of advertising your books and it links to your website.  It works best if you have a lot of books – so with only one so far it isn’t as useful as it could be.

Will you sell or promote your book via any non-mainstream outlets?

Online through Author’s Den and my website plus my publisher’s website.  Maybe Amazon.com.

m a miller

Author m a miller

 

Are there niche groups that you plan to approach?

I am hoping to get together with the other SF writers that alto books publish and have a booth at the AussieCon 4, 2010 (the World SF convention) in September, here in Melbourne – lots of SF fans attend and between us we have about 6 books to promote.

Do you or publisher have any plans to sell your books overseas?

Yes, apparently SF books are big in the US – and here is the irony – if my book sells overseas there are booksellers here in Australia who will then pick it up for sale!  The distributor has specialist SF booksellers in America who are interested and (I believe) have preordered Mis’ka.

Tell me about the ebook you’re writing.

The ebook came about because a friend asked me to read and comment on a short story she’d written – although it was a great idea there was very little ‘technique’ – the POV was all over the place, no main character to focus on, and it was written in a way that kept emotional distance from the reader.  I started writing her some notes and realised at the end that I had the makings of an ebook to help with all that technical stuff – but told in a simple way.

How do you plan to sell your ebook?  

With elibrary and also through my websites.

Will you or your publisher do an ebook version of Mis’ka: Rite of Ascension? 

Hopefully, yes.  I think that Kindle and the new Apple iPad are the way that some people want their books – personally, I love a-hold-in-your-hand paper version but for travel I think the electronic way is great.

How did you decide what content to put on your website?

I have always loved the back story – bits about character, where they’re from etc – so I wrote my website with that in mind and I am currently working on more to add. Of course, it also has a bit about me. Plus the downloadable ebook.

You’re a member of many writers groups. How has this helped you with your career?

They all have excellent resources (including access to lawyers to help with contracts) and the Victorian Writers’ Centre has fantastic events that are useful for learning and interacting with other authors.

Do you view your writing as a business?

Yes!  Since leaving a full-time, non-writing job, writing is the way I earn a living. 

How do you structure your writing days?

Depends.  Some days – especially when I have a looming deadline – I work from very early (even 4.30am) until lunch then have a break then get back into it.  Other days, I do a lot of thinking and not much writing. Currently I’m very busy so more writing, less thinking!

What do you find difficult or pleasurable about working as a full-time writer? 

Difficult can be always trying to find the angle – that’s in copywriting – as you need to come up with different ideas for the same thing – currently I’m writing 12 brochures for the same company that need to say the same thing about different subjects.  Phew!  Also, I do like to ‘think’ about my writing but when you’ve got that deadline often there isn’t the time for that indulgence.  But the most fantastic thing about writing full time is that I get to do what I love – writing.  And when I’m writing creatively – well that’s just a joy!

How would you describe your ‘brand’ as an author?

I’m not sure that I have a brand but I recently received feedback from my publisher who said that I am a ‘storyteller’ who keeps the story moving forward – as opposed to someone who writes a lot of descriptions and forgets to tell the story.  I think this skill comes from my training as a screenwriter (through RMIT’s Professional Screenwriting course).  So I guess that is how I would describe myself – a storyteller (although to be honest, I don’t know if that differentiates me from anyone!)

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?

Believe that you can do it!

m a miller, thank you.

Biography

m a miller writes for the screen and theatre. She has assisted in the development of an animated children’s television series as well as a live action kid’s show. She won a Melbourne University writing competition, a Women’s Weekly short story competition and has worked in the script department for the long running police drama Blue Heelers.  She has also had a number of her short stories awarded or commended. In her spare time, miller finds time to swim, walk her dogs and eat (lots) of chocolate – not necessarily at the same time!

Mis’ka – The Rite of Ascension will be released at the end of April.

Click here to visit m a miller’s website.