I arrived a little late because my wife wasn’t feeling well, so I escorted her to our room and tucked her in because… hey, I am a good husband. As I entered the room to the “Drinks With Authors” mixer at the Phoenix Comicon, all I could see were two very long and very slow drink lines, two tables with books on them, and a sea of faces. I had no idea who to mix with or what was going on. A raffle call was underway and everything seemed a bit chaotic. As I walked around the room, I determined that the people with the badges that said “Exhibitor” were most likely authors. As it turned out, this was partly true. Since none of the authors that I follow were at this Comicon, I resolved to expand my horizons and meet new authors. (On a side note, if you come to drink, bring cash.) Ultimately, I found the occasional author available to speak to, and two of the authors passed me fliers.
Bio Quote: “Patrick Hemstreet is a novelist, neuro-engineer, entrepreneur, patent-pending inventor, special warfare-trained Navy medic, stand-up comic, and actor. He lives in Houston, Texas with his wife and sons. The God Wave is his first novel.” http://www.patrickhemstreet.com
As I made my way around the mixer room. I would pass out my cards and talk about my book. I didn’t have a badge that said “Exhibitor” and my work was self-published, but this was a mixer after all. Patrick was one of the first authors that I ran into at the mixer. I took his flier and he took my card. Then we talked about his book “The God Wave“, whose style can only be compared to that of Michael Crichton, writer of best sellers “Jurassic Park” & “Congo”. He was very gracious that I didn’t know who he was.
Bio Quote: “I’ve been freelancing, doing work for publishers and gaming companies and for private commissions. I did twenty-plus covers for R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books, for C.J. Cherryh, Tad Williams, Marie Brennan, and others. In the last few years, my old story-telling muse was reawakened. I’ve sold short stories and am working on a novel for DAW Books, to be released in May of 2016. There are other projects in the works, including another art book. Stick around—the best is yet to come.” http://toddlockwood.com/bio/
I had a brief time to chat with Todd Lockwood before he was summoned to call the raffle. Like a blockhead, I approached him and I said, “are you an author.” He graciously told me that he was and he even listed some of his illustrations until I countered that I am a Terry Brooks fan. Some of his illustrations were in The Witchwraith by Terry Brooks. I felt bad because Mr. Lockwood certainly deserves better recognition for all of his accomplishments in the literary world. But he was very accommodating and I’ll certainly buy one of his novels.
Bio Quote: “Author of fantasies The Thousand Names and The Forbidden Library. Also a programmer, gamer, armchair economist and student of history, professional cat-botherer.” djangowexler.com
I had an opportunity meet Django Wexler. He had an interesting twist in a different time period for fantasy. It is before the Victorian era and close to the colonial era. I never really considered muskets and magic, but I am looking forward to adding his works to my wish list of things to read.
Unfortunately, there were two groups of authors that I didn’t get to meet. One group was surrounded by people who were eager to meet the authors. That is the healthy way to be unreachable in a mixer and it should be applauded. The other group was about six people who were in this tight circle that clearly communicated that no one else was welcome. I hope that they were not authors because that is not a healthy way to promote your book.
Promote your books to fans, talk about your book to people who have never heard of you. I tell people about my novelette in the grocery store. For example, the girl who serves coffee at the Starbucks kiosk just told me that she loved my story and she promises a good review. I get coffee there almost every day.
I bought an audio book of a Patrick Hemstreet who I had never heard of before, just because I met and spoke to him. My wife will most likely buy his paperback if I like it and recommend it to her. I am going to give the six people in the exclusive circle and exhibitor badges the benefit of the doubt and just say they were most likely not authors. Otherwise, those were six authors that I will never read for at least a year. Depends on the next Comicon.
Mixer Essentials For The Authors
I may be new to the professional literary world, but I have been in one form of sales or marketing for years. I interact with people every day in a face to face customer service interaction. I attend mixers and networking events when my schedule allows it. Over the years, I have picked up a few great essentials, that require no people skills.
Bring your poster: This brings people to you in a chaotic room. I really only saw one author Patrick Hemstreet. He had a poster and he was one of the first authors that I approached. I bought his book on audible.
Bring books, cards, and, or fliers: Two years ago, I met the founder of Phoenix Networking Gelie Akenblit at a mixer where she was hosting at the Biltmore. All she had was an offer to help others and a little basket with a label saying “Cards”. Check out her website, http://www.networkingphoenix.com. Her networking company is huge. At a minimum, have some cards. You take one, you get one, it is great. I spoke to a few other authors who didn’t have anything. My short term memory is awful and they aren’t getting mentioned or retweeted. Not because I am mean, but because it was a mixer with some alcohol, I will have a ten to a fifteen-minute conversation with another author, and my short term memory is just awful. If I spoke to you, but I didn’t mention you in this article or retweet you, message me on my social media. If I have never met you and you want me to retweet you, then by all means send me a message.
Bring a labeled container (that welcomes people to put their card in it): I handed my card to everyone that I spoke to. Everyone but one person was really cool about it. Why do you have a website that asks people to sign-up for your newsletter, but you come to a “mixer” in a convention without seeking contact info from the people that you meet face-to-face? If you are a really famous author and you find yourself holding a bag of cards, give it to your web druid (Shaw Speakman). Add them to your mailing list, mention that you met them at the convention on your twitter or have your marketing people do it. Let them do the same for you.
Social Media Matters: Even though I am a self-published author and I bite scratch and claw for every sale that I get. Social media does really matter. I find that if I only market my own product, my followers increase very little. But if I feature others and give to others on social media. My followers increase by 20-30 per day and my sales spike. Well… by indie standards. (Cough!)
I hope that this article has been informative and helpful. I know that I left out a bunch of other things that could be suggested. But it was a relaxed mixer, so what can you really do? Ultimately, we all want to go to these things and meet people in a relaxed manner and still make the most of our time. I had a great time taking live videos and meeting new people.