In this age of the Internet, we authors are well used to flogging our books on blog tours, in Facebook groups and in every virtual space we can invade. The days of the actual book tour are almost gone, the opportunities for meeting readers at book signings and book fairs being increasingly limited.
That’s why I still welcome those chances wherever I can conjure them, like at last weekend’s Shore Leave Science Fiction convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This was my third year selling books in the Dealers’ Room at this con, the largest fan-run SF event in the country, now in its 39th year. Like always, the con was well-organized and well-attended, with some great guests from the SF entertainment and scientific worlds. But it seemed like the cosplay folks outdid themselves this year, with an ongoing parade of very innovative creations going by the table and competing in the Masquerade.
I was able to meet up with some friends who took my advice and chose Shore Leave as their first SF con experience ever. They had a ball, and I was able to see things from their newbie perspective all over again. That’s always fun. Since I’ve been doing this particular con since I was a fan fiction writer in the Nineties, I tend not to blink when the Klingon conga line goes by.
The hours were a little long without my daughter to help out at the table. (She’s expecting her first child in September, so no con for her this summer!) But I had my friend Stephanie of Red Fish Rue Fish as a neighbor at the next table to chat and cut up with, and neighbors on the other side that seemed to wear a different costume every five minutes. I had lots of return customers who came seeking the latest book in my Interstellar Rescue series. (I sold out of Fools Rush In !) and made some new friends, too. (I sold all of the “new cover” copies of Unchained Memory!) All in all, sales were good and worth the investment on the table.
The only problem is the long drive to Maryland (nine hours on a good day). DragonCon in Atlanta is much closer, and I recently met another writer who encouraged me to try it next year. I may add it to the schedule and see if it works as well as Shore Leave.
MISSION SUCCESS: THE CONTINUING MISSION
I was so glad to read blog partner Laurie’s news that she had made the difficult, but optimistic, decision to rededicate herself to her writing career. Not only because I would hate to think I was alone in this very lonely endeavor, but also because I strongly believe Laurie’s is a writing voice that should continue to be heard in the SFR world. Lord knows this is not an easy path to choose, and encouragement is not always to be found. But, as her fans showed in their reviews, people are out there reading and appreciating, and that does make it all worthwhile. (Events like Shore Leave, where you get to meet readers directly, can help bring that home, too.)
I recently finished Book Four in my Interstellar Rescue series, a book which technically did not have a contract from my agent/publisher. I was a little nervous to think she might not want to continue with this arrangement, which allows me all kinds of creative (and financial) freedom. But we concluded a new agreement that extends the arrangement with some tweaks, and I’m very happy. My terrific editor just signed on to do this book, too, so we’re officially in production with a goal of publishing by November, 2017.
It just goes to show that our original Mission Success was not a short-term objective, but a long-term plan—a Five-Year Mission and beyond. And for that we—and our readers—are all systems GO!