Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo

This weekend I went to Saskatchewan Entertainment Expo, and that means I get to do my first Good, Bad, and Ugly report for a convention outside of Ontario! Let the games begin!

The Good

The Prairieland Park is a great venue, with a ton of space. This expo was the largest I’ve ever attended as a vendor, by far. I know Kitchener Comic Con says it gets around 9000 people, but there’s just no way those numbers can be accurate. SEE says it pulls in 12000, and it was ridiculously busy. But I think that’s the difference between selling armbands to everyone who comes in (SEE) and counting people who enter the doors of a free event (KCC). I figure KCC has to be counting people more than once, if they leave and come back later, because the foot traffic isn’t even close to the same.

I contacted SEE really late, since we just moved to Saskatoon, and I only found out about the expo recently. All the Artist Alley tables were sold out, but they fit me in to an economy vendor stall, which was much roomier than I’m used to. I need to be careful not to get too used to that sort of luxury!

Photo Credit: Jefferson Smith

Fortunately, Jefferson Smith lives in Saskatoon and generously offered to split the table with me. If you haven’t done conventions before, it’s infinitely better to have someone to share a table with. Companionship helps keep your energy levels up, not to mention you can take breaks and still have someone watching the table for you.

I met a couple local writers on the first day who invited me to their writing events. I’m not 100% sure they’re a good fit for me, one being a “writing prompt” sort of group to help with inspiration and combat writer’s block – neither are things I have problems with – and the other sounding sort of ill-defined, but they want to put together an anthology. Even so, it’s always nice to network with other writers, because writing tends to be a lone wolf sort of activity, and it’s nice to share experiences with others.

In terms of sales, I did quite well. Two people bought the full trilogy, and I sold another half dozen copies of A Noble’s Quest. That more than covered the table costs, which was great! Also, some people requested that I put the books in a local book store because they didn’t have the money to buy them at SEE, so I’ll be looking into that soon. As an unknown author in the area with no fan base, I was really pleased with those numbers. Not only that, but I had several people say they will definitely get the books on Amazon as well. Now, I don’t like to count my sales before they come, but I have a really good feeling about some of those people. The community here is exceptionally supportive of their local artists!

Overall, a fantastic convention. Large, well organized, with a good-sized list of current and past celebrities. It was wonderful. Best convention I’ve ever attended! (Although meeting Ed Greenwood at SkyCon will always stand out as a career highlight for me, and will be tough to beat!)

The Bad

Jefferson had to miss the first day entirely due to illness. That really sucks! He had quite a lot of success on the second day when he was there, and I felt he would have done great with the first day, too.

This next point is super minor, and not a knock against the convention at all… but one bad thing about being in the vendor area is that I was beside a WALL of Funkp Pop figures. It’s amazing how many people turned down our alley and simply didn’t see anything else, as their eyes were immediately grabbed by the sheer enormity of hundreds of Pops. How can a little author hope to compete with the power of pre-existing fandom collectibles? Next year I’ll get in on SEE earlier, so I can hang out in Artist Alley, where I hope my work will shine a bit more.

The Ugly

I felt so bad for the guy across from me. I mean, he had a great convention and sold a ton of comic books. He said it was the most he’d ever sold there. But he had two shelving racks that weren’t super stable looking, with REALLY expensive comics on it. One was $975. Thousands of dollars worth of comics fell to the floor, and that big one cracked. Likely cut the value in half. So painful.

The Vendors

I didn’t actually get to do much networking with vendors at this one. I talked with a couple of the people nearby, but didn’t get out of my area much at all.

Jefferson Smith shared the table with me, and has some interesting sounding fantasy books of his own! Fairly different from my stuff, by the sounds of it, but our writing processes are somewhat similar, and I bet they’re good reads. I read one of his short stories a while back, and it was highly entertaining!

Mike’s Comics (Warning: Link is to Facebook page. If you value your privacy, might have to skip this one.) was across from me, and he’s a really nice guy with a massive comic book collection. He had two booths absolutely packed with boxes of comics!

CmdStore had all the Funko Pops and way, WAY more. My son had to get a Pokemon ball from them, and had a really hard time not getting a Funko Pop. As soon as he saw them, he said he wanted to buy one, and he had to be reminded that there was an entire convention worth of stuff to look at, so he shouldn’t just get the first thing he laid eyes on.


Genre Fiction Meeting: Conventions

I’ll be hosting a meeting for genre fiction authors at The Red Brick Cafe in downtown Guelph tomorrow, starting at 1pm. After our first meet & greet during the summer, there was a request to talk about conventions, so I’ll be sharing what I’ve learned to help people sell their books. Additionally, I’m asking any genre fiction authors who are Friends of Vocamus Press if they would be interested in having their books represented under the Vocamus banner at a convention or two this winter. I’m hoping to attend KW Tri-Con, and Kitchener Comic Con, where I had a lot of success this year, and gave a talk on self-publishing. However, the tables are not inexpensive, so if I can share half the table with Friends of Vocamus, and showcase local authors’ work, that’d be great!

book-bash-006Guelph Book Bash was last weekend, and it was a great time! Thanks go Luke Hill of Vocamus Press for all the hard work of putting together the event to celebrate the authors who published a book in the last year. Also thanks to Joanne Guidoccio for taking this picture of Marian Thorpe and me at our table. Congratulations to Avril Borthiry for landing a 3-book deal with a traditional publisher!

Anna Bowen hosted the event, calling up the long list of 30 authors to speak about their new work. She even almost got my last name right, saying ToxopEEus, instead of ToxopAYus. Not bad. I’ve heard much worse!

Live music before and after the author segment was provided by Madison Galloway, who played guitar and harmonica, and showcased great range with her voice. I couldn’t believe she’s only 16 years old! She’ll be going places, for sure.

Last but not least, thank you to all the sponsors and partners who help make Book Bash possible. Without your generous contributions, there would be no event!

It was a pretty light week for writing, but I finished with the editing notes I’ve received so far for A Hero’s Birth. Also, I set up the pre-order for Macimanito Môswa just so I had a link to fire off to promote it. I’m not actively promoting the pre-order, because pre-orders don’t count toward ranking, and I’m hoping enough people I know will be interested in it straight away that it’ll go up the ranks and be noticed by people I don’t know. So I’ll be linking to it on Halloween!

What would you do?

I’m applying for a grant. I know it’s a long shot, but winning $2000 or $6000 dollars that goes toward new equipment and travel costs would be amazing! A laptop and smart phone (so I can get a Square and take credit card payments) would definitely be in my future. Maybe a good quality microphone so I could make audio books.

I’ve been going through all the conventions I can find in Ontario and figuring out costs of tables, travel, and accommodations. So far I’m up to $4200. I’m still waiting to hear about the table fees for a couple conventions, but even that means I would be short by probably at least $1000.

But I hear there are some great cons elsewhere. If you know of any that you think I should attend (I’d prefer to stay in Canada), please let me know! It’d be awesome to take a trip somewhere to promote my writing.

To my fellow authors, what would you spend $6000 on if you could get new equipment and travel costs covered? If there’s something I’ve missed that could really help me out, I might rearrange my con schedule to fit it in.

Writing went well this week. I wrote 3000 words and finished chapter 4; if I add the work to put together that application, I’m well over the mark. Plus, I drew a very rudimentary map one night to send to Harvey for the new book. A Hero’s Birth will be my first book with two maps: One for the lands we already know, another for the lands across the ocean.

Here’s a sneak peak at the bad map I drew:

A Hero's Birth Map

The eastern lands