You remember when you were younger, school would let out for the summer. You aggravated your parents so much that they decided that they needed a vacation…sans you. So, they told you the great news that you get to go to summer camp. At first you protested and were all sad because you didn’t want to go, but then you went, had an amazing time and didn’t want to leave.
Welcome to my UTOPiA Con 2016.
Filled with awesome events, great people, fantastic friends and books out the [expletive deleted]. Please bear in mind it’s not that I wasn’t looking forward to the convention. It was just that it was my first, and like many of us I wanted to make sure that my first was with a special con, one that would respect me and want me to call it later. I am more than happy to say, that I think I absolutely made the right choice. This blog post is my attempt to go over all of the great things that I experienced, the trials I met, the people I befriended and the resources I acquired while attending UTOPiA con.
The To-Do List Dos and Don’ts
The title might be slightly misleading because you need to have a proper to-do list so really this will be a focus on what I didn’t put on my list, how it effected me and what I did that was positive.
Step 1. Child make sure that you pick a decent place to stay while your at a convention! There is nothing like showing up at your “bargain” hotel at midnight after a 10 hour drive and finding blood, stool and questionable stains in the hotel room and not to mention the guy that tried to score “a dime” in the common hallway. We hauled ass right out of that place, having stayed a whopping 15 minutes. Fortunately, the convention hotel had one vacancy but due to a last minute booking we went from spending $300 for four days to $1300 for four days. So, do yourself a favor, book quick, book early and cut the bullshit, if you can swing it, just get a room in the venue. Pinky promise you’ll thank me on that one!
Step 2. Make sure you have a way to actually take tender for your items or services. Sitting at your booth the morning of the con, with no service on your mobile, kicking yourself because you never set up your pay pal, and realizing you never got cash to give people paying in hard currency, is not something you ever want to have to deal with. Coupled with the fact that my debit card wanted to be all non-debit-ie (so I couldn’t get cash from the ATM) made for a really panic filled situation. Fortunately, my first three books sold in ones, so I got to avoid the whole pretty woman, Julia Roberts/Richard Gere haggle to get cash to make change for people. Remember you are there as a business, business have to be able to accept payment.
Step 3. Be yourself! This was my first con, so at first I was very “business” and “professional”. which was WAY EXHAUSTING. End of day 1 and into day 2 I let my extrovert flag fly and was my sassy smart ass-ie self. Wouldn’t-cha know it, they liked me, they really liked me. As it turns out, people like you when you’re just being you…who knew? That rhymed…Once I opened up and people started approaching me on a personal level, I quickly began selling out of books and made some new friends.
Step 4. believe in yourself. I only took 25 books with me, thinking that I may only sell 1 or 2 being the new guy. After I opened up, I sold out of books and left with standing orders for more. I attribute my overall success to not only the amazing people around me but the fact that I believed I could do it. Also with this confidence, be warned, once you and your book are out there, they cannot be taken back. So just close your eyes, take a breath, trust fall, and know that someone will catch you (trust falls are backwards, not forwards. If you trust fall forward and break your face, that’s on you).
You need something…I may know a guy and/or girl for that!
Remember that when you’re at these conventions, it’s not all about selling. It’s also about connecting with people and networking. Here’s a list of some of the wicked helpful things I learned about while at Utopia con.
- Self Printed by Catherine Ryan Howard: Apparently if you want to avoid hiring an interior formatter but want a really well done interior, you NEED this book. I ordered it, but I haven’t gotten it yet. Once I give it a read, I’ll let you all know if what I have been told is true!
- Readingroom.com: This is a site that can help you boost your reviews by giving out free copies of your ebook to reviewers. I have been told that it has helped gain numerous reviews, which as we all know helps gain future sales. I have an application with them for review, once I try it out I’ll report on my findings.
- Instafreebie: This site is basically the same as The Reading Room, except it can grow your mailing list by prompting people who get a free copy of your book to sign up for your mailing list. It is directly linked with Mail Chimp to make like easier. It does cost money, but there is a free version I think.
- Draft2Digital: This is an alternative site for publishing your ebook. I believe they do print books as well. I have been told their prices are cheaper and their terms are more reasonable than the Amazon linked options. Also, they are much more user friendly than Smashwords.
- Ingram: This is another one that is much more user friendly than Smashwords and also they don’t take as large of a cut from distributors as Createspace. I was straight up told to pull my book from Smashwords and put it on Ingram and then give the Ingram version to Barnes and Noble.
- Book Gorilla: This is a way to get your book in front of a bunch of readers.
- BookBub: This is a book promo site. I had several authors swear by it. It is very expensive and they only take you if you have more than 35 reviews I think, but I had authors tell me that this got them hundreds of downloads and just as many reviews. I am honestly going to save up for this one. Not only did several authors who make a living off of their work tell me about this, but it was discussed in one of the talks that I went to about marketing.
- Deranged Doctors: These guys make some seriously kick ass covers!
- YA Cross Promotions: This is a Facebook page that one of the authors from UTOPiA con created. Its purpose is to cross promote other indie authors who write YA. There are also lists with services from editing, to cover design to promotion and marketing. It’s a great resource and a way to connect with some really amazing fellow authors! I have already added a few of you that I thought might find it useful, but if I haven’t added you and you are interested, comment on this post and I’ll add you.
I met so many amazing people at this event and I can’t wait to go back next year. It’s amazing how close you can get with people in only a four day period. Just like at camp, you develop your camp family and now from Utopia con, I am very proud of my new con family…the convention kind, not the wrap sheep and conviction notice kind…