Category Archives: Conventions

Independent Author’s Toolbag: Networking

If you’re like me, then networking as an author is hard.  I hate feeling like I’m coming to the table with nothing besides my hat in my hands.  I hate asking for anything, unless I can contribute something in return.  Call it work ethic, call it stubborness, call it social anxiety, whatever, I originally, and still do, find it difficult to ask for anything from those who can really help.

That is a serious issue.  Let’s be honest, the biggest hurdle for any independent author (after writing something worth reading and then getting it edited and self-published) is somehow getting their target audience to find them.  This can be greatly assisted with book recommendations by other authors, blogs, book reviews, and word of mouth.  Word of mouth sells the most, and I’m not talking “my friend wrote this book and it’s okay” word of mouth.  I’m definitely not talking “my son/daughter who is living in my basement wrote this book, please buy it so he/she gets the money to move out.”  What you want is “I met this author, he’s pretty awesome, and I really love his book, check it out.”  That kind of interaction is priceless.

You have to reach your target audience and reaching them the right way is hard, sometimes.  There’s a variety of research on the subject.  I’ve already written a post on self-promotion.  What I’m talking about now is networking, making those key connections that will not only benefit you… but benefit the community of independent writers.  You may not even think of it this way, but somewhere, someone out there needs your help just as much as you need theirs.  It may be a small thing, an introduction to someone you know, but that can be the difference between success and failure.

Networking has two aspects, the online and the physical.  Online is typically LinkedIn, G+, or the dreaded timesink FB.  It also includes blogging realms, but that is a story for another time.  You find someone who posts on a friend’s page, you like what they wrote, you might see they’re into the same thing as you, and tada, you’re friends.  Maintaining communication is a part here, striking up a conversation without being (A) a creeper, and (B) pushy is important.  If you come off as someone who is entertaining and intelligent and with something valuable to hear, then people will be more likely to remember you in a good way.  Physical networking is even more important to get write.  Have a business card, be confident, make eye contact, and above all be professional.  If you don’t have anything to bring to the table, then try to ask some questions that can help you.  (Example questions: What conventions in the area do you recommend for new authors?  Who could I talk to about participating in a panel? Introduce yourself and what you write, but don’t go into exhaustive detail about yourself.  Be specific, be brief.  There’s nothing like a 10 minute long heartfelt story of failure and depression to make any potential contact chew their leg off to escape) Here’s the brutal truth: most people will not take you seriously unless you view yourself that way.  Conventions, both fandom and writing, are excellent venues for networking.  Meeting someone face to face, talking about events or panels at the con, these are likely to stick with them and help them to remember you.  Maintain that communication through online and other such events, and you can build your professional relationships.

For me, I’ll be honest, networking is easy enough in theory, but harder to maintain those important relationships.  Part of that is maintaining communications, part of that is having something to contribute.  Let me be clear here, plenty of people are willing to give the new guy (or gal) a hand at first, but patience wears thin if all you are is a taker.  Give help, contribute, discuss, and when someone needs that introduction, help them out.

Yes, it can come back to bite you sometimes.  I arranged an introduction for an acquaintance’s kid at a business.  He never showed up.  I got a nasty call.  That kind of thing happens.  I’ve also struck up friendships as a result of networking, learned a lot about the business end of writing, and had some help passed my way more than once.  The important part of networking is to get out there and keep doing it.

 

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Myths and Legends Con 2014 Experience

From the Game of Thrones Murder Mystery Dinner (The real mystery is who survives)
From the Game of Thrones Murder Mystery Dinner (The real mystery is who survives)

Myths and Legends Con, also known as Malcon, is a Denver, Colorado convention.  This was my first year both attending and being a guest.  All in all, it was a fun experience.  I met a lot of folks, both writers, fans, and that interesting group of people who just sort of show up, not really knowing what a convention is all about.

Malcon was not a large convention, but it had the feeling of a group of friends hanging out and talking that you don’t get at some of the other conventions I’ve seen.  Everyone was friendly and was there to have a good time.  There weren’t any arguments (well, okay, some rabid discussion about plot twists, character arcs, stories, etc. of some big name authors, but that was all in good fun and no one drew blood… mostly), and there was a very relaxed attitude for the whole weekend, with little of the stress of racing to the next event or panel.

Part of that was due to the excellent organization by the staff.  They managed the entire event very professionally and with few of the issues I’ve seen at other conventions as far as double scheduling panels or guests and that sort of thing.  They managed this despite having to shift venues at the last minute due to a conflict with the former location.  They also had to deal with a major highway (I-25) being shut down in the middle of town, which obviously threw a lot of people’s schedules into a bit of turmoil.

Victorian Steampunk
Victorian Steampunk

All in all, Malcon was a lot of fun and I’d love to attend next year, as well.

Kal’s August Updates

August is here!  As far as my updates, I’m still finishing up The Shattered Empire and I’ll be getting it out to my alpha readers in the next couple weeks.  Echo of the High Kings is now available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback.

In addition, Look to the Stars is now available on Amazon.  The short story takes place just before the events of The Fallen Race.  Look to the Stars is from the perspective of the smuggler, Mason McGann.  As an introductory offer, I’ll have it available for free this weekend, 10-11 August.  You can get it here.

Lastly, I’ll be at Myths and Legends Con this weekend in Denver, Colorado.  You can find their website here.  I’ll have paperback copies of my books with me if anyone wants to get a signed copy.

That’s all for now, stay tuned for other updates and snippets/samples.

 

Kal’s July Writing Updates

I’m pleased to announce that Echo of the High Kings is on schedule to be released on 1 August 2014.  Echo of the High Kings is an epic fantasy novel that I’ve been working on, through multiple iterations, for a long while.  It is the first book of the Eoriel Saga, which will be a long series.  In the next couple weeks leading up to it’s release, I’ll have sample sections and other goodies.  It will be exclusive to Amazon and will be part of their Amazon Select program.

I’ll be working on Wrath of the Usurper, the sequel to Echo of the High Kings, in August and September, with a goal to release it in the winter.

In other news, work on The Shattered Empire continues.  I’m doing some of the final bits on it and will have it out to my alpha readers in the next couple weeks.  If all goes well and I feel that the final product is ready for it, I’ll try to have it out in early to mid September.

For fans of The Renegades series, I’ll be working on Renegades: Out of the Cold during the fall.  Renegades: Out of the Cold will follow the crew of the Gebnyr as they reach human civilization once again.  The release date for Renegades: Out of the Cold will probably be in the December/November timeframe.

Lastly, it’s not writing news, but I’ll be at Myths and Legends Con in Denver on 8-10 August 2014.  I will be on at least one panel and for those who want a book signed or want to get a (discounted) print copy, feel free to talk with me after a panel or in the halls.

Starfest Denver 2014

Boba Fett and Han Solo discuss their plans for Starfest.
Boba Fett and Han Solo discuss their plans for Starfest.

 

 

I had the opportunity to attend Starfest last weekend as an author and participant.  It was a great time, all in all, with the highlight being the Combat in Science Fiction and Fantasy Panel.  We had a great turnout for that panel (almost standing room only) and excellent audience participation.  Sunday was May the 4th, which is Star Wars Day.  So there was a huge turnout of Star Wars fans as well.

A Star Wars Rebel Steampunk Pilot
A Star Wars Rebel Steampunk Pilot

It was a great opportunity for me to meet folks, both writers, editors, and readers.  I had some great conversations with people and really enjoyed myself.

The highlight for me, as I said, was being on several panels, especially the Combat in SF & F one that I organized.  We talked about a number of things, to include pet peeves as readers and viewers, awesome scenes in the genre, as well as writing tips and techniques for doing a combat scene.  The other two panels were pretty awesome as well, and I really had a great time overall.

Fortunately there were first responders on hand in case of any health issues or zombie breakouts.
Fortunately there were first responders on hand in case of any health issues or zombie breakouts.

Denver Starfest 2014

I’ll be attending Starfest 2014 in Denver, CO this coming weekend (May 2-4).  This will be my first convention as a participant, so I’m  pretty excited about it.  As of yet, it looks like I’ll be on three panels.  May 2nd at 7pm I’ll be on “You Got Your Reality in My Fantasy.” May 3rd at noon I’ll be moderating a panel “Combat in Science Fiction and Fantasy” and May 3rd at 3pm I’ll be at “Alternate History in Fantasy and Science Fiction.”  For those interested, I’ll have some extra copies of my books.

I’ll be wandering the halls for most of the event.  It’ll be my first time at Starfest, so I’d like to see what it’s all about.  I hear there’s a lot of Klingons…

Update: Click here for how it went.

Anomaly Con Denver Review

IMAG0140

I went to Anomaly Con this past weekend.  It’s a smaller Fan Convention in Denver, Colorado.  The general theme is steampunk and alternate history, though there was certainly guests, panels, and events linked to science fiction, traditional fantasy, and even urban fantasy as well.  I’ll cover the highlights for those interested.

Tracy Hickman was there, talking about his new game Sojourner Tales, which looks to be a lot of fun, check it out here.  He also hosted his Killer Breakfast event, though that had a depressingly low turnout.  It was still a lot of fun, and I got to be slain multiple times..  For those who haven’t heard of it, typically several hundred people are killed in a 2 hour session, mostly whenever their characters cease to entertain.  My favorite part was when I used my long underwear as a parachute, then rolled a natural 20 as a success, leaving Tracy Hickman literally speechless.  It even has a website, apparently, find that here.

Author Carrie Vaughn was there.  Most famous for the Kitty Norville books, she is an excellent panelist, and she had a lot of good info, is always very organized, and she kept on topic as well as answering any questions from the audience.  All in all, she’s a friendly author, and seems to be a great person.  If you’re a fan of urban fantasy, you should check her out.  I’ve read a number of her books, and they are an excellent example of urban fantasy, and more original than most.  Check out her website here.

Also present was Quincy Allen.  He’s a ‘hybrid’ author, who started out self published and has since gotten involved in small press.  He’s a Colorado author, an all around interesting fellow, and fun to talk with.  His novel, Chemical Burn, will be re-released under Kevin J Anderson’s Word Fire Press.  Check it out here from Amazon, and Word Fire Press here.

I didn’t have the opportunity to set on any panels, but I did have some fun conversations with a variety of folks there at the conference.  I also found a very cool John Crichton Farscape-style vest and jacket, just out of my price range at the moment.  Of course, if my book sales pick up a bit, I suppose I can work buying it in the future.  Check out their website here.  They’ve got a lot of cool stuff.

Just out of reach.  Monetarily and height-wise.... sometimes I hate being short.
Just out of reach. Monetarily and height-wise…. sometimes I hate being short.

 

All in all, it was an interesting weekend.  Anomaly Con is a quirky little convention.  I don’t know that I’ll attend next year, but it was an experience this year.