Thursday, May 10, 2012




James R. Tuck

There are literally millions of words written about how to write a novel and get published.

But what do you do after that?

In today's market there's a huge push for you to get readers to notice your book. You have to get up, get out, and get some for your book. You have to Make-It-Work. You have to make your book stick in the minds of readers and make sure they seek it out.

And that brings me to conventions.

You go to them. You love them. You get to sit in the same room as the author that you look up to and listen to them talk. If you're brave you might even get to ask a question. Then you have an actual conversation with one of the people who inspired you.

And it is freaking awesome.

Now you can be that for someone else.

Conventions are easier to get in than you think. Here's a secret: conventions are run by people. More importantly, conventions are run by FANS. You wrote a book? Great. Now find a convention you like and write an email. Introduce yourself, provide a link to your work, and offer to be a panelist.

Follow up in a week if you don't hear from them.

Now this is the part where you have to believe in yourself. Don't act like you're Lee Child and James Patterson wrapped in a layer of Stephen King, but don't sell yourself short either. Tell it like it is in a favorable manner.

Express to the coordinator that you're willing to work, including taking last minute panels as a replacement if they wind up in a bind. You'd be surprised how often someone drops out on a panel. This attitude landed me the biggest panel I was on at Dragoncon last year. Near 200 new fans and on stage with bestselling authors in my genre.

While at the convention, talk. DON'T GET INTIMIDATED AND JUST SIT QUIETLY. The folks attending are there to see you, even if they don't know who you are. Sharpen your best stories and be ready to give lightning quick summary of your work and contact info.

If you meet an author you admire feel free to tell them, and then relax. Be cool. You're in the same game as them. Most authors are nice folks and they'll treat you as such.

Ask for contact information. FROM EVERYONE. You'll be shocked at what author has a contact you can use, what blogger will write the review of your work that goes viral. Believe me, networking is the key to future success.

When it's over take the information you gathered and send polite, genuine follow-up emails. Follow the people you met on their social media services. You'll forge contacts that can help you for the rest of your career.

Conventions rock. I know that's the unprofessional way to put it, but they do. Trust me.

James R. Tuck writes dark and scary stories for adults. His Deacon Chalk: Occult Bounty Hunter series has debuted to much praise from readers, reviewers, and other authors. Book one, BLOOD AND BULLETS will be available everywhere on February 7, 2012 and will be preceded by the e-novella THAT THING AT THE ZOO on January 27, 2012. His short, twisted, zombie love story "He Stopped Loving Her Today" is being considered for adaptation into film.

James is a former bouncer and has been a professional tattoo artist for over 15 years. His tattoo work has been published in national tattoo magazines and he owns Family Tradition Tattoo in Marietta, Ga. He lives near there with a wonderful wife, three wonderful children, and six dogs of varying degrees of wonderfulness. To learn more about James and  BLOOD AND BULLETS visit


F.T. Bradley said...

I had been wondering about book conventions--what great advice. Thanks!

And your book sounds great, James. Must check it out...

jenny milchman said...

Sounds like a really important avenue to pursue. Thanks for the idea and the advice, James.

Jon The Crime Spree Guy said...

Offering yourself as a panelist is good, but most book conventions charge to go so you will most likely need to register.

James R. Tuck said...

You make a great point. I did have to pay to go to Dragoncon, which wasn't a tragedy since I was going as a fan anyway, but this year I am an official panelist, on the website for all to see, and will be guaranteed a certain number of panels.
It pays to be professional and courteous!

Miranda Parker said...

James, thanks for sharing this.

I love speaking on conventional panels. Next week I will be featured at the SC Book Festival and they are paying for my expenses. I will be a panelist on three more this year and I don't have to come out of pocket for those either. Most conventions will discount registration and/or hotel or pay for most of the fees if you're a panelist. Nonetheless the amount of exposure you will receive and the potential sales will be well worth any investment.

I didn't know you were in The A. I wished it wasn't the same weekend as the Decatur Book Festival. I want to see you in action. :)

Jodie Renner Editing said...

Interesting! Quite a few conventions and conferences don't offer any remuneration or incentives to participate, beyond the obvious advantage of publicity and networking, so I guess it depends on their budget... Still definitely worth it, though, unless the conferece fees or flight costs are exorbitant.