Last weekend my editor and I decided to check out the NEBULA AWARDS for the first time. It happens to be the 50th anniversary of the award. This year there's a strong focus on professional development, so I was very interested to check it out.
The awards were held at the Palmer House Hilton, a 1639 room hotel in the Loop where apparently the chocolate brownie was invented.
I got into town on Weds Night and Margot surprised me with tickets to TJ and Dave at the IO theater! Sadly TJ was not available that night, but it was still a solid show. The IO theater was fantastic and enormous, and we managed to snag a stage-side table. TJ and Dave are the greatest improv act of all time, if you ever have an opportunity to see them, take it. They visit NYC a few times a year, I will be at their next show in June for at least two nights of the performance. True masters of their craft.
PANEL #1 - How to Hand-sell Your Book
I was sick as hell on Thursday but made a point to get out to see at least @MikeRUnderwood's sales panel. Very valuable info, he first went into an explanation of a few retail-style presentation techniques useful for displaying books when working a booth at a con.
Two presentation points I plan to implement:
1. Have bookstands, a tablecloth, and ideally a banner or a sign that complement your brand
2. Have a stack of books underneath yours, so people know they aren't taking your last copy.
Mike Underwood has a lot of sales and retail experience and it shows. He talked about a flowchart method to his sales pitch, favoring a soft-sell approach with a lot of emphasis on gauging the comfort and interest level of a prospective buyer. He talked about the importance of genre familiarity, knowing what's popular for comparison not just to your own genre, but to build bridges to people who aren't necessarily SFF readers (or even big readers at all) in larger conventions with a more diverse crowd. A final tip was offering people who were interested but not willing to commit to a sale a chance to join your email list.
This was a valuable panel that taught me a few things that will make it easier to sell books in person. He also fielded my question about selling books to independent stores, with some great advice about talking to book buyers. Just the information in this one panel was worth the price of admission to me.
I should also note Mike has an active Kickstarter going for Genrenauts.
I also attended the Kickstarter panel Margot ran. I'm obviously biased, but it seemed very well received by other attendees.
And to wrap up, a few pictures I snapped while wandering around the loop in a virulent haze.
Join us next post for more panels, more prizes, and more pizza... just kidding. They don't have pizza in Chicago.