I’ll be up in Cape Cod this week for some much needed quiet time.
The writing life can be crazy, because no matter what anyone Read the rest of this entry
The good news: I’ve got an audio treat from last year’s Pi-Con for all of you (scroll down) and the schedule for 9Pi-Con, which is being held at the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, CT July 31-August 2, has been announced!
I’m really excited about the variety of programming in which I’ll be participating, and this year includes a writer’s workshop all day Friday. Here’s what Read the rest of this entry
I’ve just registered and booked my room for 9Pi-Con, “The friendliest little convention in New England,” which is being held from July 31 – August 2, 2015 at the Sheraton Hotel at Bradley Airport in Windsor Locks, CT.
Although the programming hasn’t been announced yet, I can promise Read the rest of this entry
It’s official — I’ve just registered for Conbust 2015 at Smith College in Northampton, MA!
Conbust isn’t just an anime con — it covers everything from Read the rest of this entry
I’m back from 8Pi-Con and here’s the pix (and by tomorrow I should be recovered!). Next year’s event, 9Pi-Con, has been moved to the end of April – April 24-26, I believe. I’m bringing friends next year, because this is a great weekend with something for everyone, and much like Conbust in Northhampton, Mass., in March, it’s all about the topics—on just about everything imaginable from writing and science to film, television, genre work and art—and is completely inclusive and welcoming. They truly live up to their tagline Read the rest of this entry
This weekend it’ll be nuclear apocalypses, bad endings, scary movies (and a whole lot more!) for me at 8 Pi-Con, a three-day celebration of geekery held June 27-29 at the Holiday Inn in Enfield, CT. Panels, workshops, and gatherings will cater to everyone from the Dr. Who fan to the sari-wrapping curious to those who love drum circles and steampunk.
You can explore the recently-announced schedule for the weekend here.
As for me, here’s what I’ll be up to (in between going to some of the other pretty cool panels, especially the one that meets at Read the rest of this entry
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I won’t be at AnthoCon this weekend, but there’s a great line-up planned — including a performance by Voltaire and a special preview reading of his forthcoming book about the Jersey Devil–so don’t miss out! There are tickets available at the door. For more information about the event, visit www.anthocon.com.
I’ve been doing events for ages, and my first few weren’t easy. No one had a must-have list, and I had to learn by doing. Today I’m sparing you all of that.
So, here are the ten things every writer should have in his “Traveling Promotional Toolkit” (other than, obviously, your books/product). If you’re with a larger writing promotional organization, such as Broad Universe, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about some things on this list, like the table and tablecloths. But you should own them anyway, because at some point, you will probably be going solo.
Interestingly enough, these ten items won’t break your bank—in fact, if you buy everything at once, your investment is going to be well under $100 and most of that you’ll never have to replace—but they’re absolutely essential if you’re going to take your show on the road.
Table/Chair: Card tables aren’t that expensive. Pick one up and keep it in your basement. If you don’t use it for going on the road, believe me, you’ll find some other use for it the next time you throw a party. A decent card table can run you anywhere from $20 on up. Some come with four or five chairs and start at about $50—but as far as chairs go, anything from home will do. Even those fold-up lawn chairs are fine. But you should have one in case the venue doesn’t.
Tablecloth: You can bring a cloth one from home you already own, but since I’m a horror writer I like to get funky and use something appropriate. Plastic tablecloths, which you can get at any party store and start at, like, a buck, are the best choice, because you can customize them to the event (you might not want to bring your blood-spatter design to a hospital benefit, for example), and you can toss them when they get worn out. I usually get several uses out of them and have a few different designs on hand, especially during October, when I’m doing four or five events in a row and want to change it up. You’ll find you also won’t mind loaning out the plastic ones, either. These are the most frequent things you’ll replace other than your handouts (see below).
Plastic Tubs: A must. All your books and materials stay dry and in mint shape. The tubs are also easy to carry, and make for a great “table” to put your drinks and food so they don’t go on your signing table, putting your product at risk.
Book Stands: Sure, you can lay your books down on the table, but if they’re standing up, they’re easier to spot, plus they instantly look serious. You don’t have to spend a fortune to own an industrial book stand: these are the poor man’s POP (point-of-purchase) displays. All you have to do is visit Michael’s Crafts and head down the framing/photo aisles; they’re referred to as easels, they’re portable, and they’re cheap. The ones pictured above, which fold easily, are about $3.99 each, and if you get Michael’s coupons in the weekly paper, then they’re even less. If you wanna go nuts, they have some pretty cool wrought-iron ones. Those are on my Christmas list. If you don’t have a Michael’s, craft or hobby stores should carry them. They are also, I think, available through Amazon.
Handouts/Flyers: The idea with a handout or flyer is to provide something of value: content your readers will take home and possibly keep for awhile or use—this is the idea behind what today we refer to as “swag” (years ago when I worked for a firm we called them CM’s–“collateral materials”) such as magnets, bottle openers, and pens. The good news is, since you’re a writer, you don’t have to spend the bucks on promotional items if you can’t afford them. An easy, better, and less expensive way to market your work is to take a short story (preferably one that’s published) or a sample from one of your books and copy it. You can then staple your business card, postcard – or simply a flyer with your website and where people can purchase the book – to those copies and hand them out. You may not think it works, but it does result in at least a few residual sales (a residual sale is when a person purchases your work after the show is over).
Pens/Markers/Paper: Don’t laugh. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve been to book signings at big box retailers (Barnes & Noble, Costco, and the like) and the author didn’t have pens that worked. Invest in a box of Bics. And while you’re at it, pick up a few Sharpies, too. Also make sure you have a notepad or extra paper – it comes in handy if you need to make notes, keep sales records, or make a sign. Just keep them in your travel tub.
Sign Holders: These are those plastic one-offs that stand on their own into which you can insert your own flyer, sign, photo, or whatever and the beauty is you can prepare one and use it over and over; you can also change them out frequently but keep a file of different ones on hand and avoid having to print new sheets every time you need something different. They add to your professional appearance and come in a multitude of vertical and horizontal styles and sizes. The best place to get them is at Staples, and you can spend as little as $4.00 each.
Tape: One word: MacGyver.
Plastic Shopping Bags: to offer to customers who purchase your product, and to use for just about anything else, including those empty Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cups and Tab cans. One box of 100 costs about $13 at Staples or Office Max, and it’ll take you awhile to go through them.
Decorations/Candy: Something festive to dress up your table is always helpful because it broadcasts I have passion for what I do, and a bowl of individually-wrapped candies is always pretty, especially around Halloween, because it shows you have a sense of fun. And after all, who doesn’t want to Trick or Treat?
This article originally appeared on the New England Horror Writers Blog on April 15, 2012, at the URL http://nehwnews.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-traveling-writer-ten-things-you-should-own-for-promotional-events/
T.W. Fendley writes historical fantasy and science fiction with a Mesoamerican twist for adults and young adults. Her debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was voted Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel in the 2011 P&E Readers Poll. Her short stories took second place in the 2011 Writers’ Digest Horror Competition and won the 9th NASFiC 2007 contest. Teresa belongs to the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, the Missouri Writers’ Guild, SCBWI and Broad Universe.
In Fendley’s book ZERO TIME, Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu and learns the Andean prophesies about 2012 have special meaning for her—only she can end the cycle of Darkness that endangers Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar.
For many years, I read a lot of horror. I eagerly awaited the next books by Stephen King and Dean Koontz. The draw of the macabre and the twist of the unexpected kept me hooked since I first read Edgar Allan Poe in my youth.
So I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me when an agent said the first novel I wrote was horror, not mystery. (Sadly, in the late 1990s, horror wasn’t selling if you weren’t King or Koontz.) My novel, Little Sisters, was about a murderess who telepathically controlled black widow spiders. In one scene, spiders flowed out of a car’s air vents and swept over their victim. I had trouble getting into my car for months!
You see, I don’t turn my imagination off when I log off the computer, and even one spider is frightening to me. At that time, I was still in my “spider-attractor” phase. For whatever reason, I’d wake up and a spider would be on my pillow, or I’d be outside and feel something crawling in my hair–a spider. There are many, many more examples, but you get the picture. It was terrifying for me.
Which brings me to the point of my ramblings. A familiar piece of advice for writers is to “write what you know.” If you write speculative fiction, you can’t take that literally (for instance, I haven’t been to the Pleiades lately like the characters in my novel Zero Time). But when it comes to emotions and sensory details, I think it’s especially good advice. So if you’re scared of spiders, use it!
Another time this technique worked for me (and turned a sci-fi story into horror) involved migraines. I started having them when I was 25, in the days before any of the new drugs were available that can take the edge off the pain. I generally spent six to eight days each month in agony. That very real pain fed into a scene in my story, “Origins of the Species.”
Take what you know and create something different from it. Use it to fuel your imagination. That’s exactly what some of the new horror writers are doing. Yes, in the past year, I’ve started reading horror again. I just finished ARCANE, an anthology edited by Nathan Shumate with “thirty weird and unsettling stories.” Indeed they are! In one of my favorites, “God of the Kiln” by Eric Francis, the god reveals to all who dare pass what a priest’s “humble pride” wrought. Another, “Lady of the Crossroads” by Christine Lucas, shows how only a village woman’s mutterings can spare the men of Samothrace from the ravages of war. I also highly recommend Bram Stoker Award-finalist Fran Friel’s MAMA’S BOY AND OTHER DARK TALES. After reading her creepy collection of fourteen short stories, you’ll never look at dust bunnies and mashed potatoes the same way again.
While I think it’s important for writers to get in touch with their emotions and senses, I’d like to encourage you–as readers–to also be bold. Try a genre you never thought you’d like, and see if there isn’t something that resonates. To get you started, if you’d like to check out a sci-fi story about longevity pioneers, The Fourth Treatment is available free on my website. It’s the prequel to that award-winning horror story I mentioned–“Origins of the Species.”
To celebrate the release of Zero Time, T.W. Fendley is giving away a Maya-Aztec astrology report, a Mayan Winds CD, Zero Time tote bag and fun 18.104.22.168.0. buttons. If you’re interested, you can enter below—deadline is April 30, 2012.
3 ways to enter
1) Leave a comment on any of the PARTY POSTS listed on the book’s Virtual Release Party Page here: http://twfendley.com/?page_id=510
2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the PARTY POSTS (with tag #ZEROTIME2012)
3) Facebook (tag @T.W. Fendley) about the Virtual Party. (NOTE: tag must have periods to work)
You can find ZERO TIME at: