Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting ready to promote at a writing convention

Next month is the 2014 RT Book Lovers convention in New Orleans, which is a fantastic place to have a convention... too bad I’m not going to see much of the city due to being there only for the convention.

Still, the RT folks have done a pretty good job of setting up some events that take in the area outside the hotel, including a visit to Mardi Gras World, which is apparently set up in the warehouses where they keep some of the parade floats, and a pub crawl along Bourbon Street. Not sure if I will make it to that one since I’m supposed to be working a table later that evening at the Samhain Saints and Sinners party as a “Saint”. Booze and Sainthood don’t seem to go together too well. But we’ll see. Maybe I can pace myself, get some of the local color and still be an Angel at 9:00.

But this article is less about the convention, which I’ll talk about in next month’s article, and more about the preparation in advance.

You might think that all someone has to do for a convention is sign-up, reserve a hotel room, and organize their travel. And for many people that would be all that is needed.

But going to a convention like RT Book Lovers, which is my big promotional event of the year, requires far more. Sometimes the preparation begins as early as the day after the previous year’s convention, if not during the convention, when people are available to discuss ideas for seminars, panels, and parties for the following year.

For me I have one big personal event to promote my science fiction romance stories, Linnea Sinclair’s Intergalactic Bar and Grille party. I also participate in whatever big reader events the publishers Ellora’s Cave and Samhain are doing, but the IgBAG is where I spend the bulk of my time and money. At that party we give away 250 goodie bags, as well as an assortment of door prizes of various sorts, including books, t-shirts, cups, posters, and whatever. Last year I created small charms with book covers on them and made charm bracelets, giving those away as prizes, and I usually bring books from some of my out of print inventory.

The goodie bags this year will have small baggies with one of my book cover business cards and a small laser light that fits onto your finger. I ordered 400 of these laser lights from a mail order company and am still stuffing cards and lights into the bags. So far I’ve made about 150 of them, so I have a few more to do for the bags.

Any leftovers from the IgBAG go out onto promo lane. That is another thing I do for the convention is reserve a spot on promo lane when I register for the convention. This provides a place for me to put a poster featuring my books, plus a bin with small items to give away. In the past I’ve tried various low-cost items including pens and plastic luggage tags but for the RT convention I like to do unconventional things like my “mini-costume kits”. 

RT encourages costumes for its participants, so I provide baggies with vampire teeth and temporary tattoos. Since this year is in New Orleans, I’ve gone with Mardi Gras colored teeth and themed tattoos. I’ll have 288 of those prepared to give away on promo lane, in addition to the extra laser lights.

Vampire teeth, temporary tattoos, laser lights, and completed give-aways.

This is what I’ll be doing for the next month. Creating book cover charms and making charm bracelets, stuffing bags with laser lights and cards, making costume kits, and wondering if there is anything I’ve forgotten...

Oh yes. I wonder what kind of costume I’m going to need to throw out beads at Mardi Gras World? Should I be shopping for a feathered g-string? Yikes, that's a scary thought.

So what kind of give-aways do other people do at a convention like RT? I'm always looking for new ideas.


Charzweb said...

Sounds like a wonderful time. Here's hoping that your own experience is fabulous and your books and goody bags all gone and sold! Great lblog!

Rolynn Anderson said...

My goodness, Janet! You really know how to "DO RT!" I'll have to remember how you manage the promo, the swag and the fun for this huge event. I must say, I went once and was quite overwhelmed. You've got the monster tamed!