This past weekend, I attended ConQuest 44 in Kansas City. This is my third year at the event, and the first I've been on a few panels. This was, however, the first year at its new location, across the highway from The K (home stadium of the Royals). I enjoyed the hotel, though I think that its integrated water park may have been the source of severe mold problems in certain areas of the hotel.
All in all, I had a great time. Attendance seemed to be up this year (most likely due to the presence of Game of Thrones author George R R Martin) over last, about double. Panels were interesting, ranging from a discussion of world building to one on anti-heroes (like good ol' Aston). I also had a reading with my dealer room tablemate, Patrick Stutzman (pictured below). Attendance was a bit low at this reading, but I've actually had fewer folks show for other readings I've done, so...
Sales were actually high. I can confirm that I sold more books this past weekend than I had at the other two years I've attended. I'd venture to say (would take too long to confirm for sure) that I actually sold more books than I had at any other convention I've attended since Heroes Die Young came out in 2008.
I do believe Martin's attendance (though not listed as a guest of honor, surprisingly) boosted the attendance, which helped sales, but a few other notes:
- Series help sales when you make repeat apperances. I had several sales where people remembered me from previous years, had purchased my first book (or my first and second), enjoyed them and wanted to buy the rest.
- People like free stuff more than a sales pitch. When talking up my books, I'm usually a good judge of when people aren't interested. However, this year I had the added benefit of having Seeker available for free most everywhere. When I gave out bookmarks for this one, and informed them of it being free, attitudes certainly changed. Time will tell whether this leads to sales of my other books, but I think it's a good start (and can only be better than having a person leave the table with no inclination toward checking out my work).
- The curse of the introvert. I tend to be introverted, but have conditioned myself to be able to talk with people one-on-one when it comes to selling my books. Panels, however, are still a frightening experience for me. I did have some good points, but I constantly had to think through what I was going to say, which had one moderator calling on me because he thought they were skipping over me. At one point, I think I may have sparked some fire in the crowd, though, because one of my comments tended to get some rather vehement responses...but one of the folks involved came by and bought a book, so guess it wasn't a problem.
- Ensure a sufficient supply of books on hand. Patrick actually sold out of his first book in his series, and still had some of the second book remaining (which with a series, is difficult to do). Myself, I did have just enough of my series novels (the first and second books nearly selling out), but I did end up selling out of The Cure before the end of the convention.
Like I said, I enjoyed my time this year, and am looking forward to attending next year. My next event is only in a couple of weeks, up in Emporia, Kansas. I've made sure to order some extra copies of the necessary titles, so here's hoping that I'll be able to build on the success here, and sell out of everything then as well.