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Comic Con Opens Doors for Indie Writers

Images from Conventions
Images from Conventions
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

How do you get ten thousand like minded readers in one place at one time? Rent a convention hall and tell them they can come dressed as their favorite characters. Comic Con has become a worldwide phenomenon, spawning off a number of copies and copycat conventions. Once inside an attendee can expect to find a number of booths full of genres specific memorabilia, artist, media promos and writers. The booths with the long lines are the book signings for the popular writers who were invited to the convention because their names would draw a crowd and the other booths with just a few patrons are the author’s who are trying to get the word out about their new books and had to pay through the nose to be there.
A booth can cost anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars depending on the size and duration of the event. An expense that comes right out of the exhibitor’s pocket, so why do it? An author who makes around $5 a book would have to sell hundreds of copies at that one event just to break even and that doesn’t account for travel and lodging expenses. For most, it’s the consideration of the long term gain. They are gambling that by putting themselves in the heart of their target audience, they can create enough “word of mouth” about their books to get the momentum started. That is the key to indie publishing. Without the marketing and distribution machine of a big box publisher, self publishing authors must rely on a grass roots type of marketing strategy. It really is a kind of “Chicken and the Egg” world in publishing. Books don’t sell until they become popular and they don’t become popular until they start to sell. So it becomes the job of the author to convince people that their book is already popular before it really is. They do this through social networking, paying for on-line ads, producing video trailers for their book and sometimes paying people to publish reviews of their work.
For many writers the comic book conventions, and the variations of them, are an effective and honest tool. The author sits himself/herself at the booth with a stack of books, posters, sample chapters and whatever other things they can give out with the book’s title on it; and smiles at the people who pass by. For those who stop at the booth, they get a chance to ask what the book is all about. Consider if you had the chance to talk to Clarke, Adams or Asimov about their books before they were giants. A one on one exchange with a prospective fan could turn into referrals to their friends who, if the book is good, could referrer to their friends. If a writer convinces just one percent of those who attend the convention to buy his work, then the wheel will start turning. A hundred book sales at a convention would not cover the cost, but 30 or 40 good reviews on a retailer’s web site will increase visibility, a few dozen LIKES on the authors Facebook page will increase traffic and increased traffic to the author’s web site will move it up on search engine results. All of which will result in more sales. If the author writes well enough the fan base will continue to grow and he/she may one day be invited to a convention to speak about their latest work.