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The Long Con

Sometimes I write to stay accountable. To you, reader? Yes. But also to me.

 

I promised myself I would write one blog post a month. We’re nearing the end of the month, so – here you go.


I wanted to write about cons, seeing as how I just attended my very first one this past weekend: Apollycon. I write this blog for writers who are just starting out, to give them a glimpse into the world of being an author that they might otherwise have a hard time learning about. So, seeing as how this week I learned all about cons, I thought I’d share what I learned.

 

But first, let me just say – I am exhausted. It’s been a long and busy week of travel and hotel stays, eating out, sitting around and generally living outside of my comfort zone. So forgive me if this is maybe not my best blog post ever. I’m trying.

 

When I say con, I want you to think of Comicon. I told my mom I was going to a con, and when she asked me what that meant (she’s 80), I said, “a conference.” (I was wrong. It's short for convention.)


She must have conjured up an image of a nice writing retreat or something, because when she asked how it went and I told her some of my stories, she was hugely confused. Cosplay? Character art featuring full frontal nudity? Flea market and Costco vibes? Yep. Yes – to all of it.

 

Allow me to explain. Apollycon was hosted at the Gaylord Marriott, a large convention center in National Harbor, Maryland. It’s a stone’s throw from DC (we didn’t get to sightsee at all) and is so large that it’s quite easy to get lost inside. It was about a week after Readers Take Denver, where (according to hearsay and the internet) attendees and authors were mistreated on many levels. So, I went in both skeptical and with my guard up, because the last thing anyone wants is to go to a convention to try and sell books only to become a victim of assault or abuse.

 

Anyway. Apollycon was made up of different attendee levels, and to be very honest, I’m not 100% sure of what all the differences were, but I think Primal and Titan ticket holders were like VIP status, and Deity ticket holders were not. What it meant for us as authors was that a select percentage of attendees would have all access to us for two days of signings, and everyone else would have more controlled, limited access for one day only.

 

But signings are only part of it. There are also panels. And panels, for authors, are a good thing. If you can sit in front of a room full of people and engage with the audience, answer questions, chat with those around you comfortably – that’s how you’ll build new potential readership. I was fortunate to be invited onto the Rom Com panel, and I’m quite serious when I say that a solid 50% of the people who came to see me at my signing table were there because they saw me on the panel and thought I was funny.

 

I greatly enjoyed the panel. I could talk about craft and the publishing industry all day long, quite happily. That is my comfort zone. The signing floor? Not so much. See, on the Rom Com panel I was in a room that was maybe a third full, with people who read and enjoy – and were there for – the specific genre of romantic comedy. But romcom is not having a moment right now. Unfortunately for me, and others like me who write it, romantasy is the jam at the present moment.

 

Enter the snake with two penises.

 

Yes, friends, that is what I said. Snakes have two penises, and they are spiky. This is what I learned. Romantasy (I’ve never read it, so again, please phone a friend if this sounds wrong) can involve animal shifters – like men who become wolves or sharks or dragons (dragons are a big thing right now), fae, vampires, I don’t know. All sorts of shit. Apparently it’s extremely rooted in erotica, too. Enter the art print of the full frontal guy, who, I might add, was hung like a horse but had scales all over his body like a fish.

 

It's an anything goes kind of vibe, and attendees of Apollycon were There. For. It.

 

Back to logistics, though. There were two huge signing rooms. The upstairs ballroom was carpeted. Downstairs was not. I was situated downstairs, in what felt sort of like a bargain basement warehouse Costco situation. We authors set up our booths with hundreds of dollars worth of stuff – swag items, expensive banners, gifts with purchase, the whole nine. I learned (by asking my publicist) that it was okay to hand sell my books at my table. I didn’t know this coming in, and only brought about 50 books total – but that was fine, because I didn’t sell everything I came with. My books were readily available at the conference bookstore, run by the local Barnes & Noble. Thankfully, I was able to sign the stock they had there, so the books would be distributed after the event to local B&N stores.

 

I set up my table and made it look as pretty as I could. Then, I sat. For 5 hours the first day and 8 hours the second day, watching as people walked by and didn’t take the Ring Pop wedding favors I’d made. A few did, of course, but I made enough to fill a duffle bag the size of Montana, because naturally I assumed that all 1500 attendees would want a Ring Pop.

 

I was incorrect.

 

I wore normal clothes, a t-shirt and jeans, and I felt very much like that person at Costco who gives out the free sample of turkey sausage or what have you. Not exactly the glamorous life one pictures when one decides to devote their life to being an author.

 

There were definitely upsides, though. I networked. I met a few authors who I got along really well with. I’ll make it a point to keep up with them and nurture these new relationships. And I learned a lot about self-publishing, current trends, and where the market is headed. For rom com, it looks like we’ll be taking a hiatus. I think it’s an evergreen genre, but what I saw at this con tells me otherwise. Erotica (in any form) and romantasy are 100% the jam right now. Lucky for me, I write stuff other than rom com. I’m sad about the current trends, but if there’s one thing I can tell you (from watching jeans I owned 15 years ago come back into style), it’s that trends are cyclical. People will want to laugh again. Just not today.

 

Today, people just want a good old fashioned spiky double snake penis.

 

And really, who can blame them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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