Yesterday ended my weekend at SoonerCon 26, a local science-fiction/fantasy/writer’s convention in Midwest City, Oklahoma within a short driving distance of my house. This was my second year being invited as a media guest, which means I’ve written a few books and have done some podcasting, so they allow me to come be part of some panels.
Panels (for those of you who don’t know) are when a group of people in the industry gather at the front of a room of people and sit at a table where they discuss topics provided by the convention. SoonerCon provides a survey to media guests where they are allowed to create topics for panel discussion. I submitted several, and a couple of my panel suggestions made the cut.
Of course, the convention is a great opportunity for this indie writer because it gives me a chance to get my face in front of potential readers and also to show those readers that I’m a pretty decent writer.
I met Timothy Zahn, the amazing novelist who created the Star Wars character Grand
Admiral Thrawn. His latest book “Thrawn”, is a New York Times #1 bestseller. He is kind of a hero of mine, since I have been reading his novels for years. He had some great advice for me about world-building, about working in the business, and about being a writer. I will never forget his wisdom.
Friday I was part of a panel entitled “An Embarrassment of Riches” which was in a rather large room (and there were microphones!). The room wasn’t very full, as it was Friday, but we had a lively conversation about the current state of super-hero and science-fiction television programs. The question was: “Is this glut of sci-fi media too much and are we oversaturated?” We had a great discussion, but what I did at the beginning of each panel was to ask a trivia question and then the person who answered correctly received a copy of my new short story compilation “The Headless White Horse”.
I did two more panels the following Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s panel was amazing and I spoke to a packed room. We discussed “Designing Your Character from the Inside Out”, and I was able to talk candidly about the processes I go through to create characters, pitch my books to a large audience, and get some great laughs from the crowd. I gave away another book, and afterward had many requests for cards from the audience wanting to buy books. Sunday was a panel on Edgar Allan Poe, and since it was the last panel at the convention it was kind of small, but I had a great time nonetheless.
I totally rocked that Poe panel, though.
One of the best things about doing this con, one of the most beneficial things for the long run, was meeting several other local podcasters. Richard Kutz and I do a little pop culture podcast called “Three Cylinder Stardrive”, but it is also a vehicle to get my books in front of buyers. Since we have joined the local podcast community, we will be featured as guests on their podcasts and vice-versa, reaching an even wider audience to plug my books and it won’t cost me a dime. I’d say that’s pretty good p.r.
If I’m invited back next year, I’ll definitely go. It was a good experience and I feel like I
did better “pressing the flesh” this year than the last time. I met some good people who could help me move forward, and I will be sending e-mails to many local conventions like that in the future to get on as a media guest.
If you have a small local convention in your area, I would consider e-mailing their program director. If you have a couple of books circulating Amazon, it could be worth your while to get involved. I loved the experience, and I’m sure you would, too.