Since people are, no doubt, waiting for a post about Sword & Lion Publishing’s experiences at Oddmall Akron, I’m gonna talk about that!
Short form: it was a very positive experience for both Ashlan Swain and myself.
Everyone was very friendly and helpful. We got a bunch of people on the mailing list, and we sold some books, too. And, for the first time since starting this whole business, the flow of money changed directions – instead of everything going out, some money flowed back in. While I’m committed enough to keep losing money at shows for at least a couple of years – I have no illusions that it will take quite some time to find the readers for the kinds of books that S&L publishes and that getting those first few fans will be the roughest – but it was really nice to see the flow of money reverse. It makes me think that my business strategy will work.
I was also pleased that I was able to keep up a running line of patter for both days. At shows, I know I’m primarily a salesman. While I know the quality of your product gets return business, to get your foot in the door requires selling. I was worried that my social anxiety would get the better of me, and I’d take every rejection personally. Fortunately, that didn’t happen. When someone said that dark fantasy wasn’t their gig, it was just someone expressing their preference and I was glad to be able to end my pitch and move on to the next person. When someone didn’t buy into my pitch, it just meant that this wasn’t the right place or time, not an indictment of my art or character.
I know that even very good books don’t appeal to everyone. One of my favorite books, after all, is <i>Dune</i>. Lots of sci-fi fans can’t get through it! Does it mean <i>Dune</i> isn’t a good book? Of course not.
Otherwise, it was a learning experience.
There’s only so much research a person can do before jumping in with both feet. I’d reached that point. There will always be something new I “should” do before acting. Sometimes, it is best to act and clean up the mess. At the show, I learned I had some messes – but nothing that can’t be cleaned. Over the next several shows, I expect to put what I learned into effect – make my booth better, my presentation slicker and see overall improvements. Insofar as I had a goal with the booth, I reached it – it looked pretty good, and people thought I looked professional.
We met a lot of people, and they were all great! If I have left anyone out, it’s just that we were so overwhelmed with how friendly and helpful everyone was!
Next, I’d like to thank Sam from Leaf Filter for an honest critique of the booth and where we can and should improve things. Also, Pendragon Chainmail for being such great neighbors and drawing such big crowds!
Additionally, I’d like to give a shout out to Jordan and Sophia who make the adorable Taneko – part cat, part octopus, all adorable, though Jordan argued that both cats and octopi are apex predators, thus the taneko undoubtedly imbued with fighting spirit – as well as great art over at their Etsy store. We had dinner with them, and they were wonderful, so you should go over and buy their stuff RIGHT NOW. Or you’re a bad person. There. I said it.
We also met Corey Sheldon, who is the writer of the Valley of Progress books. In addition to being retro-science fiction with oodles of social commentary about the interplay between technological progress and environmental preservation. Additionally, you should go to the site and find him at cons just to look at his beautiful art. The art deco inspired art – also done by Corey – is to die for, and he has made all kinds of bennies for his work. To me, of particular note are the various advertisements done in art deco style for the companies in his books! It’s just beautiful stuff, and everyone should check it out.
There’s also Jeff over at The Goblin Trader, who was friendly as all get out, Dan Arman at As Dreamers Do Press, D. Lieber the writer of Conjuring Zephyr, Rose Withering, and far too many others to mention!
Also, of course, thanks to everyone who stopped by our booth! You’re the reason we come out, after all!