Saturday, October 14, 2017

Con Preparation

After the release of Agents, Adepts, & Apprentices in time for FenCon and Archon the following weekend, I finally had time enough to get organized on the other things I feel I need for conventions: promotion material!

It feels odd to have to mention this, but often it isn't enough to have a book physically available at a convention. Yes, having a cupcake launch party will create interest (and some people did stop down to the Zumaya Publications table in the dealers room afterwards), but often you need to have some means of generating awareness. Just having signs posted around the convention (with pictures of the beautiful cover) before the party had people coming up to me later during the con saying things like "Oh, you're the cupcake lady! Is that the book?" "Sorry I missed the party, where can I check out the book?"

Fortunately, I had already prepared enough ahead of both conventions to have promo pens I could hand out for those times I wasn't at the table. Because I'm still a newbie with my smartphone and get easily frustrated with my fingers not hitting the right keys on the screen (how can people type so quickly on those things?), I decided to have stylus pens, which seemed to be popular. They've got my book title, my name and website on them just in case people decide to check out the book (and if people don't want to, they still have a good black ink pen with a useful stylus).

Unfortunately, I forgot to update my business cards with the new book title. And I didn't have time after approving the book cover to design and order cards for the new release. But I had time enough after Archon to fix that, and my new promo supplies have arrived. I'm trying VistaPrint this time for my paper promos, rather than the company I used in my previous blog post about promotion material. For some reason this year VistaPrint had a better selection of business card designs and an easier setup method for double-sided postcards. The stylus pens are from National Pen, which I've had good luck with over the years.

So now I'm all set for the next month's worth of conventions, library workshops and bookstore events. At some point I should probably add a banner, as a number of my other author friends have done, but that should wait until I see the new covers for the upcoming re-releases from Zumaya Publications. A banner would work for those conventions I drive to, but when I'm flying to a convention the weight limit for suitcases means I'd rather bring books than a banner. Maybe a custom designed tablecloth? Vistaprint immediately showed me what my postcard design would look like on a banner, a tablecloth, and a few other items. They all looked lovely and it was very tempting, but I don't know.

What are your go-to items for promotion? What attracts your attention?


  1. I use postcards and business cards too, but after buying a LOT of pens that dried up before they were passed out, I have pencils for my Steampunk series. They also fit the genre well to me...

  2. When I had business cards and a new book, I would print address labels to put on the back with the new info, until I could get new ones.

  3. I use postcards from Vista Print. I've also used bookmarkers, buttons, magnets, charms, and numerous other things. I haven't used the pens. The ones I have picked up at conventions I end up tossing as they dry out. You did remind me I need to update my business cards. I've also had cupcakes made for one signing. I think one of the items that was hot for me had to be when I filled up a jar with Tootsie Rolls(My one character Dr. A has a stask in his office).

  4. I hand out bookmarks...they have my list of books, in order, my contact info and how to get my books plus wholesale order info. I use heavier card stock and people always remark on how much they like them. I get them at Uprinting....

  5. Because we have 17 books, in 8 different genres, we face a challenge for each new book.
    I make my own bookmarks for new releases and put one in each book we sell.
    Before appearances, I collect items themed to match some of our books. (For our local historical novel, for instance, I have mini-abalone necklaces, since the abalone is sacred to the local Indians. And for our memoir on Japan, I have chopsticks.)
    I have created brochures showing all out books since we have so many. We now use 'generic' author business cards instead of creating new ones for each book. However, I usually take the old book ones, too. We use VistaPrint for paper (cards and brochures) and National Pen for our pens. Ours only have our names and website on them.

  6. My local printer makes up "palm cards"... postcard-sied laminated cards, showing the front and back covers of my books, with contact information for downloading e-books. It seems to work pretty well.