I spent most of the weekend at Balticon 47, peddling copies of Dragontamer’s Daughters. Many years ago, I used to hang out at the after-hours parties there, but I hadn’t been to the convention proper since about the year 7 BC (Before Children). Somewhere, there is a photo from that day, with me dressed up as Arioch of the Seven Darks, and I hope that photo never sees the light of day.
I looked something like this. It was the ’80’s, ok? Don’t judge.
But I digress. This year, my uber-talented friend Teddy of Szobrász Studio was kind enough to share with me half of his table space in the Dealers’ Room, and I was there Saturday and Sunday. Unlike my mediocre results the week before in Gathersburg, sales were great. Though fewer people attended Balticon than the Gaithersburg Book Festival, almost all of them were all my target audience: folks who like young adult fantasy literature (thanks, Harry Potter) and have funds onhand to purchase same (at Gaithersburg, there were several interested teens, but few had cash).
In my limited experience selling books in person, I’ve found (as you can easily imagine) that the key is to attract attention. What really worked wonders was having cut-out paper dragons (there’s one behind the jar in the photo above) that I offered to passersby, usually with the line, “Would you like a free dragon?”
If a person took the handout (which I got from Oriental Trading) and showed some interest, I explained that the main dragon in my book looks something like the one I had given them: that is, about that size, with no wings. If it appeared like they they wanted to know more, I explained that the books are set in an alternate Old West where the native people have learned to tame dragons, and that the story has Navajo elements: hence, the sand painting. I would elaborate that the story was about two girls who find an injured dragon, and that complications ensue from there. I would then point out that the books had been getting good reviews on Amazon (copied on the handout next to my newspaper article).
Whether they purchased a copy of the books or not, they walked away with the paper dragon, which had the books’ title and my website URL printed on them, an idea I am indebted to Karen Baewic for. I had met Karen at the Gaithersburg Book Festival while she was there with her daughter Kacie, author of Silver Dagger. I don’t have a sales background (I hate “hard” salespeople) and I’m an introvert, but giving away the paper dragons made it very easy to approach and talk with people. I had many pleasant conversations with and learned quite a few things from folks who didn’t buy any copies.
Standing around the Dealers’ Room all day, I got to do a lot of people-watching, of course, and there were quite a few who had come in costume (none, alas, as Arioch). Steampunk outfits seemed to be the most popular, and there were a few superheroes (Green Lantern, Supergirl, Ms. Marvel, Zatanna, and two ladies cross-playing Captain America).
This photo isn’t from Balticon, but it’s typical steampunk fashion. More here.
A while back, I hadn’t thought I would attend this year’s Balticon, but I’m glad I did. I had a great time, met a lot of cool people, spread the word about DTD and my site, and sold some books. What’s not to like? I will definitely be back next year with Lost Dogs. Many thanks (again) to Teddy for helping make it happen, and to my sister-in-law Liz for encouraging me and talking up DTD while I was there.