Con or not to Con? That is the question for independent authors everywhere

This weekend, I attended Katsucon 2022 at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, MD. I picked it because (a) it was close to home, and (b) fantasy is a big part of anime. I figured I would fit right in with my fantasy books . . . I was wrong. It seems people who cosplay as elves, knights, and wizards don’t really want to read about them in books.

First off, my sales barely covered the cost of my booth fee, parking, and food costs for the weekend. I took a loss for something I thought would be a major convention. Second, my location in the vendor hall really sucked. My booth was not in the artists alley, as promised, but between an earring and toy vendor, just two spots down from the Hentai booth affectionately known as the “Smut Hut” (their words, not mine!) Not a good place to be. I was told they wanted to “sprinkle” the authors amongst the rest of the vendors. Hide us was more like it.

On the positive side, I met and spoke with a lot of great people. I love attending events like this where people are excited about all things fantasy, steampunk, and sci-fi, and Katsucon was no exception. I mean, a lot of the younger people just walked by, more interested in anime plushies, statues, and posters, but there were several who bought my books or just picked up a bookmark or postcard with my website and other social media on it. I will have to wait and see if the convention translates to other online sales in ebooks or audiobooks. It’s still great when somebody stands at your table and keeps repeating “Wow! Wow!” as they read the synopsis on the back cover.

I think multiple day conventions like Katsucon are not for authors. I’ve been to more single day events and sold more books at those events than during my three days at a big convention like Katsucon. I need to focus on conventions and festivals specific to my genre and/or books in general. I know many people from my generation who are fans of anime, comic books, and movies are also avid readers. I think that gets a little lost with some, not all, of the younger generation. They are more visual with their books, like comic books, graphic novels, and manga.

I will stick to my upcoming steampunk festivals (Watch City in Waltham, MA) and the Imaginarium Fantasy Book Festival in Washington, D.C. My fellow fantasy authors also turned me on to a Facebook Group, Author Events Around the World, for various book festivals supportive of independent authors. This group is a great resource for various book events across the country.

So, word of advice to self-published independent authors looking for venues to sign and sell their books… Pick and choose your events carefully. Not all conventions are made alike and, before you pay for that booth, make sure your know all the details. I know that these things cost an independent author, and maybe it will result in more attention to your books or social media. Only time will tell…

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

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