Three Things I Learned From Bookcon

BookCon 2018 wrapped up on Sunday and wow, what a weekend! I had so much fun meeting and chatting with so many passionate readers and writers. Check out some photos here!

Throughout the weekend, I had some pretty awesome experiences that I will take with me for the rest of my life. I also learned a few lessons about marketing and writing that I would like to share with you. So without further ado, here are three things I learned at Bookcon this year:

1. You’ll meet way more people than you expect

When I first signed up for Bookcon, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I attended the event before as a fan, so I knew I would meet a lot of new people and maybe see some big-name authors doing signings. What I didn’t expect was how many other self-published authors like myself would be there! At my stand, tons of small-town authors came by, purchasing my book and helping support other self-published authors. It was an awesome reminder as to how welcoming and open the author community really is. Often, we’re the only ones that can understand what others writers are going through, and it’s important to stick together. If you ever find yourself at a writing event or convention, don’t be afraid to talk to other writers! It’s an awesome opportunity to connect — don’t let it go to waste!

2. Prepare to talk about yourself — a lot

I was kind of prepared for this when I came in, which really helped. But I can’t stress enough how important it is to have a prepared dialogue about yourself and your work that you can recite from memory. It’s important to have a quick, concise version of your summary that gives the main points/genre of your story. You don’t want to blank when someone asks you about your book, but you really don’t want to launch into a 10-minute summary. That will bore your potential reader as opposed to getting them hooked.

For example, for The Scavenger, my explanation was this: “The Scavenger is a realistic fiction, coming of age story. It takes place in NYC and follows a police investigation. It’s told in four different POVs to show how each person is affected by the investigation.” At that point, I recommended they take a look at the back of the book and keep reading if they were interested. It’s a good idea to have a condensed summary of your book to share with others even if you’re not planning on going to a convention just so you can share it with other people on the fly.

The other thing you need to have prepared is a tag-line or two to write in your book when you sign copies. It’s great if you can associate something with your book or title so it’s specific for your work. If you can’t think of something, you can also use generic phrases like “Enjoy,” or “Happy reading.” It depends on the type of book and what you want the theme of your book to be. Preparing these things beforehand can help save you time and stress once you’re at the event.

3. Go for it!

When I was first deciding if I should apply to exhibit at Bookcon, I was honestly unsure I would be able to make it worth it for myself. There are so many other huge authors and talented people there, and I wasn’t sure how I would fit in. In the aftermath, I’m so glad I took the chance. I had such an awesome experience and if I hadn’t gone, I would’ve missed out on a huge opportunity. If you’re up in the air about attending an event as an author or writer, GO FOR IT! Even if it’s not what you expect, at least you went and put yourself out there. The more you market yourself and your work, the better exposure you’ll have. It’s not easy to talk to strangers and promote yourself, but as an author, it’s a must. Do your research, find an event that suits you and your work and take the initiative!

To be honest, it’s impossible to summarize my experiences of Bookcon in one post. I’m sure I’ll write more about it in the future. But at least this gives you an idea of how awesome it was 🙂

Have you been to or are planning to go to Bookcon? Leave your experiences in the comments below!

Just keep writing, just keep writing . . .

— J. L. Willow

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