Do You Have Angst?: Armadillocon 36 - Lessons Learned

Monday, July 28, 2014

Armadillocon 36 - Lessons Learned

My air conditioner went out for about 15 minutes during my drive home from Armadillocon in Austin, TX. I had been driving for about an hour, the weather was every hot and sticky analogy you can come up with and I was stuck in traffic at 2:30pm on a Sunday. Cursing didn’t help. Since the air conditioner was blowing out hot steam, I turned it off, rolled down the windows, and sweat off several pounds. On a whim and a prayer I turned the air back on. It was freezing cold and stayed that way. The drive home was long but not uncomfortable, and I listened to an entire audiobook, which was fun. I finally arrived at 1:30am Monday morning. This pretty much sums up Armadillocon.

When I choose to go to a convention, I try to research so I can prepare and know what to expect. Most indie authors are wary to divulge con sales, only sharing “I sold a lot” or “I didn’t do well” because who really knows how many you should be selling? The first con I participated in I sold 15 books and another writer posted later he sold none. In comparison, I guess I did well, but were sales great? The only feedback I could get about Armadillocon was from another author who said it was pretentious. I smiled and nodded politely because that really didn’t tell me how many books to bring. I should have listened closer.

For posterity, I’m going to briefly share what Armadillocon is, and what it isn’t. Armadillocon is a literary convention where writers gather to discuss their craft. Established authors talk on subjects like ‘Overhauling a Character’, ‘Perfecting Your Locations’, and ‘Literary Archives’. If you are learning to write, seeking advice, looking for input, or get a lot out of the steps other writers go through to produce a finished work – this is the con you should attend. This is a networking convention. If you feel like you can advance your writing career by meeting published authors, and maybe even a publisher, go to Armadillocon.

This isn’t why I typically go to conventions. My goal is to find my audience, connect with them on a personal level, and have fun with friends while doing it. I’ve gone to enough conventions that I can take a relatively accurate guess at attendance based on the number of books sold. Based on my equation, I’m pretty sure nobody attended this con, which is a first for me.

I did have some fun this weekend with my dear friends Cristi and Brandon. We enjoyed some of the best people watching Austin has to offer on 6th street. I also traded books with our neighbor Christy King and look forward to reading her novel Talia. My heart goes out to the writer who was visiting from Germany and had purchased a table with the same goal and results as the rest of us.

My request to Armadillocon, don’t have a dealer room – or at the very least don’t sell tables to authors. 3 authors I spoke with said they would probably never get a table at another Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. I think I talked them out of that.

My advice to new writers who are learning and getting established: if you are in the area, definitely attend Armadillocon. There are a lot of learned hosts with great knowledge and strong opinions, they have plenty to share. When you are done listening, go home, put away any notes you took at the con, and write the story you want to write in the way that works for you – because that’s truly where your best work will come from.

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