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The Indie Spotlight and Giveaway: Surviving Conferences with L.T. Getty

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Welcome to the Mother/Gamer/Writer Indie Spotlight, a creative way for self-published authors to shine on the blog. To learn more about the Indie Spotlight, please feel free to view interviews and articles from Past Featured Authors, and if you are an author yourself and you are interested in being featured, please Fill Out This Form.

 

 

 

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Please welcome Featured Author L.T. Getty to the Indie Spotlight. Leia is the author of Tower of Obsidian, an epic fantasy about a young man who is on a quest to slay a witch while his jilted girlfriend attempts to save his life. Leia joins us today with a great guest post on “Surviving Conferences” and is also generous enough to give away a $25 GIFT CARD!

 

 

 

 

 

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Tower of Obsidian by L.T. Getty
Title:Tower of Obsidian
Author: L.T. Getty
Publisher: BURST
Publication Date: February 2, 2013
Pages: 303 pages
Grab It:

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Overview:

When Kale mac Tadhg is betrayed by his lord’s men, he is sent on an impossible quest: to slay a witch in a tower, and end a people’s curse. Both Kale’s best friend Aaron Smithson and former betrothed Aoife of Westgate set out to rescue him, but their journey takes them into the uncharted waters and Nordic colonies, to a land cursed and all but forgotten as they begin to realize that there is some truth to old legends. Kale’s rescue comes at a price – for by the time Aaron and Aoife know where to search, like so many before him, Kale becomes bound to the ancient tower’s fate.[/note]

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Surviving Conferences

 
 

 
This last weekend was my first time working at a table at a literary conference as a published author, and even though I was essentially there to support my beta, who was a speaker on numerous panels, I got to talk to the general public about my books, his books, and our mutual publisher. I’ve been to enough conventions and events to kind of know what to expect, but it also put into perspective that it’s important to take a few things into consideration when you’re going to be in the public eye.

Consider the location, the length of the event, and your basic needs. If you’re giving a lecture at a university and then selling books at a small table after, it’s not going to be something as labor intensive as a full-weekend convention.

Make sure you look presentable. Often times I was judged walking into the door of a writing class. Up until recently, I was usually the youngest person in the class by a considerable margin, and wearing jeans, shorts, t-shirts, whatever didn’t help; I didn’t dress like a cliché artist or a young professional because I assumed I was going to a lecture, but I learned that casual wear isn’t the best thing if you’re trying to be taken seriously by industry professionals. It’s also not me to be wearing business attire for an entire weekend, but you can dress up a pair of jeans with a nice pair of boots and you can find nice blouses that will both be comfortable and make you look good. Keep in mind if you’re going to be doing a lot of standing, that you want comfortable footwear. Whenever I’m at a wedding, I have a pair of ballet flats for when my feet finally give up on the heels, so I like to do the same thing if I know I’m going to be on my feet all day.

I never wear costumes to events, but I see no reason why you shouldn’t provided you’re comfortable. I wouldn’t do it personally if I knew I was going to be meeting with an editor or publisher, but that’s outside of my personal comfort zone.

So let’s say that you want to have a table at an event that lasts a weekend. The easiest thing to do is to check the website and book everything as soon as you know you want to attend and you know how many tables you want. You might want to share a table with someone or be in a certain area, but remember: every location has a set amount of space for you to set up. You might get away with a little extra spillage, but everyone paid for their space, and you wouldn’t want anyone crowding you out.

Know what will be provided, what you need to bring –  It’s all well and good to get a table with specified dimensions. Make sure they’ll already be set up and that you will be provided with adequate linens. If not, you need to know this ahead of time so you can make your own arrangements. If you require anything special, talk with the person you book the table with.

The next thing to do is figure out where you’re located, and what you’ll need. How big is your table? Are you going to be, by merit of your location, by the vending machine and people ask you questions about where to find the nearest coffee shop? (Hint: Know the answer to this!) It’s usually a good idea to consider small things that will be important – I for one, if given an option of first-come, first serve, I want to be in a nice, easy-to-see table and I want a power outlet. I’d rather not be right outside a bathroom. And if you happen to find someone who’s done that convention before, ask them for some heads up.

Displaying Merchandise – However many you think you’ll sell, have more, and consider how you want to showcase your stuff – stands, as well as anything you want to giveaway – business cards, pictures of your cover, anything you can think of. Some people have draws or candy out.

Signs that Indicate Prices – Trust me, people will often ask anyway, but I made the mistake this weekend of not having signs for my ebooks, and most people thought they were just promotional cards.

Change – Have more then you think you’ll need. Usually the people around you will be happy to make change… at first… It’s easier to be prepared ahead of time. If someone promises to come back after they get some change, they might forget.

Food, Water – Think you can last the entire weekend on cafeteria food? Do you want to spend time leaving the conference? If you’re staying at a hotel, usually you can ‘escape’ by going for a meal in their restaurant – but remember it’s going to be busy with other members of the conference. Check out local places where you can run in, grab a quick bite or drink and get back to your table. I for one can go a long time without eating – I drink water like a fish though, so know your habits and have enough snacks to get you through the day.

A way to secure your merchandise at the end of the day – Usually a cloth or a tarp, or if you don’t have a lot of stuff, you can keep your books or other stuff in a box under the table. The dealer rooms are usually secured at night, ask other people who have done events before how they protect their stuff.

Know your location ahead of time – Be aware of where the bathrooms are from where you are, as well as emergency exits.

The person who watches your stuff while you go to the bathroom/get some food – Ask the person in charge of booking your table if you can get a free or discounted membership for a volunteer who will help you. Treat this person like gold, and take them out for dessert after the event.

I like having a small zipper-binder with extra pens, paper, and anything else I might need to take down information. I also am very optimistic and I usually bring a manila folder with synopsis and three chapters of my next project looking for a home. I’ve never had another author or publisher ask for anything of mine outside of an event dedicated to pitching, but I always figure that if it happens, I’ll have the project ready.

Take notes – hindsight is 20/20, but if you plan on going back the next year, it would be fortunate if you wrote a note to yourself about, “The air conditioning broke – bring a fan.” It’s not so bad if you live in the town but if you’re traveling to another city, it probably helps if you have everything and you don’t have to run out and buy it.

 

 

 

 

How to Act

 

 

In my writing classes, I was always told, “Let the work speak for itself.” At the end of the day, it’s about your book, not about how good of a showman you are.

That being said, you are out in public. People will ask you what your book is about. You have to have a line you can say in about twenty seconds. You don’t have to deliver it the same every time, but be able to tell people what your book is about very quickly – and any of the books on your table for that matter. If you’re sharing a table with three other writers and you haven’t read the book, be honest, but also be able to tell the customers about what it is. (YA Urban Fantasy – I think it’s set in Toronto, etc.)  I’m not a pushy salesperson, but I find that it’s best just to be honest and tell people what your book is about. I’d rather get my book in the hands of 1 person who will enjoy it then 10 who won’t, because I believe in long-term customers rather than someone buying my book and hating it.

Basically smile, be polite, but as a former worker in customer service, it’s important to be firm as well – I’m not a believer in letting other people push you around. Most people are pretty decent and are there to have fun, but if you are having trouble, don’t be afraid to assert yourself and ask for help. You do not deserve to be harassed and if you feel uncomfortable leaving, ask security to escort you to your vehicle.

Being professional isn’t hard- and believe me, after a long day (or three), there’s times where you’d rather not be professional. Just remember that while you’re in the public eye is not the time to lose your cool. Some customers, other people, and people who work at the conference can be rude and difficult to work with – this is not permission for you to sink to their level.

 

 

 

 

Ice-Breaking 101

 

You don’t have to chat up everyone who comes near – I’ve worked with people a lot, so it’s usually pretty easy to size up who wants to gab, and who wants to be left alone. The easiest way for me to start engaging with someone is to make it about them – if nothing else there’s the weather, how they’re liking the conference, or the celebrity they just met. Don’t worry if the person doesn’t engage back – I find making small talk at the hairdresser tedious, and if they’re chatting and then quiet while they’re reading say, the book of your book cover, that’s a good thing. Continue to be polite and friendly.

That’s all there is to it – look professional, act professional, and plan ahead of time for anything ahead of time you might need so you don’t need to scramble. It’s important to have a certain amount of flexibility and to take care of your creature comforts so that you’re not in a bad mood by the end of the convention, and if you try to keep things in perspective, events become fun and enjoyable for everyone, and you might even introduce new readers to your work.

 

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Leia Getty