Do You Have Angst?: August 2016

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Angst team profile: Becky

As much as I like to keep my friends forever, that doesn't always work out. Family, moves, emotions, life - there are a lot of reasons why friendships sometimes don’t last. I hate that, but I understand it too. It makes me appreciate even more those who stay close, in spite of the boundaries of years or distance or differences. These are the friends who are family, and every bit as precious.

I met Becky 25 years ago during my senior year of college. She was a freshman trying out for Thee University of Wisconsin Marching Band, which was the cornerstone of my college years. Becky was energetic, fun loving, and committed, all in a beautiful package (none of which has changed.) We clicked instantly and it didn't take long to become close friends.

Theno, Meg (Photographer).
Madison, WI. August 29, 1991.
from Wisconsin State Journal
Becky gained quick notoriety when the Wisconsin State Journal posted her picture on the cover of their newspaper during tryouts (though maybe “infamous” would be a better word than notoriety). Our marching style requires that you raise your knees high and "stop at the top". One of my 9 roommates (pictured to her left) was keeping a close eye on her progress...or something.  She was a welcome addition to my house, TKB (Tappa Kegga Brew) and helped make my senior year pretty fabulous. We had a lot of fun adventures in college, and despite only getting to live in the same city that one year, we've remained close friends ever since.

Some of our adventures probably shouldn't be preserved on the internet, but amongst my favorites were Rochester, MN. Over two or three summers, I attended a weekend show in Rochester, which is only 90 minutes from Minneapolis where she lived. We'd hit restaurants at night (there are some damn nice restaurants in Rochester) and close down bars, where she introduced me to karaoke. (My apologies to anyone who attended.) And sometimes we’d even bribe the hotel concierge to let us sneak in and use the hot tub after hours. Then, I'd shakily work the next morning while she slept in. I'd get back from working and we'd hit it again. Ah, youth.

Becky is a lot of fun, and has a certain energy about her that you wish could bottle up or borrow. I've always said she has sales flowing through her blood. Not the door-to-door vacuum cleaner type that we can all do without. More like the amazing monkey-remover who leaves things better than when she arrived. She knows people, how to interact with them, and makes new friends everywhere she goes. Her self-confidence and compassion are captivating, and it doesn't hurt that she has the brains to back it up. Oh, and did I mention beautiful? Needless to say, her input with my writing has been invaluable.

I've rewritten more than a few chapters per her advice. Early on, I read my rough drafts aloud to edit, and recorded them for friends who didn't have time to read. She was on the road a lot while I was writing “Angst,” and preferred the audio version. There was one particular chapter in the first book that had way too much jumping around, and I have always found it fascinating that she and another friend listening to the audio version were the only ones to point out the problem.

I lucked out when Becky married Matthew, both because he's an amazing guy, and his parents live in Kansas City. My wife and I are totally spoiled once or twice a year when they make it down to visit. Often we get together for a nice dinner and some good catch-up time. They have two beautiful girls who, no doubt, will challenge them as much as Becky challenged her parents. I’m also sure they will turn out just as amazing because of their great parents!

This story doesn't end, it's actually happening right now. My wife and I drove to Minneapolis this morning, and are waiting for Becky and Matthew to join us for dinner. Hey, 25 years is something to celebrate, and with Matthew's help, I think she'll enjoy the surprise.

(Special thanks to Wisconsin State Journal for permission to use their photo!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Worldcon Post Three: An Indie Author at Worldcon

There is a lot to know about Worldcon and I wanted to share my perspective as an indie author with a booth. I go to science fiction and fantasy conventions for a lot of different reasons. Personally, I attend to visit with friends I know through conventions, make new friends, and just talk to people with similar interests. From a sales perspective, my goal isn’t to make money but instead to obtain exposure. There were many highlights, and a few bumps in this adventure, but overall I’d say it was a win.

From a personal perspective, I’d say the win was big. I enjoyed spending time with friends I normally only get to see at one con a year. This was a treat which included dinners or visits at my booth. It wasn’t unusual for someone to pull up a chair on the dealer floor and share their con experiences, or even provide a drive-by recommendation to prospective buyers. Being a five day convention so close to home, I also enjoyed some quality time with my wife Angie, my daughter Joanne, and our “adopted daughter” Sarah, all who helped out for two days or more, and I couldn’t have done it without them! My muses, Cristi and Mayra, joined in on the fun Worst.Comic.Podcast.Ever! Jerry and John joined us for dinner on Saturday, and we discussed everything from mermen (thanks Cristi), the Beach Boys (best engagement story ever, Jerry), to Rebirth. Saturday, and to nobody’s surprise I sold as many books that day as the other four combined. (They even received a costume award from Worldcon, which is pretty awesome!) I also made new friends, including some that I look forward to seeing at Archon, and the guys from

The most rewarding experience from this convention came from conversations I had with with three young writers. I really enjoyed talking about writing with several high school students who want to be novelists, and had another conversation with a young college student who is trying to write a book. I gave all the advice they could stand, and the best pep talk I could. The college student was shy at first, but after realizing I wanted to help, asked quite a few questions. At the end of the conversation, she said, “This was probably my highlight of the con.” I couldn’t ask for any better compliment, and this alone makes me say the con was a win.

I realize that being an independently published author at an established literary convention is an uphill battle. While I had plenty of great conversations with writers and other professionals, more than once things were said to me, or those in my booth, that was rude. It’s okay if you don’t want to buy my books for any reason, I know they aren’t for everyone, but that doesn’t give anyone the right to yell at my daughter or scoff at my friends. I only point this out because honestly, this never happens at other cons I attend. It was kind of weird, and a little offensive. I’ve got thick skin and have already moved on, but recounting the story would have been incomplete without including this.

Book sales are something most indie authors don’t discuss. Nobody wants to admit bad sales, or make other writers feel bad for not selling any books. When it comes to sales, I usually approach conventions with high hopes and low expectations. My philosophy has always been simple: don’t run out of books. For Worldcon, it was impossible to gauge how many to bring. Every con is different, it’s not exactly a sliding scale based on attendance. I tried doing internet research with inconclusive  results. I also asked other writers who have attended Worldcons, and advice was all over the place. I was told by several to bring a lot of books, so I ordered quite a few. After said books were ordered, I was also advised that those attending Worldcon aren't excited about indie authors. I didn’t sleep great the week before the con.

I'd like to think that from a marketing perspective, I put my best foot forward. I don't just put books on a table, I've got a nice display. I give away posters with every purchase. I promoted my attendance with blog posts, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and even some Facebook advertising. I went through the effort of wrapping Angst in a fancy new cover. Also, my muses always draw in a crowd, because they’re amazing.

I sold 50 books. It wasn’t my best con, but it was far from my worst. There were approximately 3,000 - 5,000 people who attended (that’s the word-of-mouth count and not official). So, maybe, 1% of the people attending braved a purchase. While these sales didn’t exactly feel worldly, people from around the world purchased a copy of Angst, and that was cool. I spoke to several dealers who were unhappy with the con, one who said his sales were half of last year’s. I was a little disappointed because I was looking for more exposure, but I felt worse for other dealers because this is their living. If there was any one thing that irked me, it was the fact that the hard-to-find list of dealers on the Midamericon web site didn’t link to my web site. I spent quite a bit of money on booth fees and badges, so this should have been easy, and I did ask. It may not have affected my sales, but it certainly didn’t help my exposure.

My daughter and
astronaut Stanley G. Love
So, for my indie author friends, my best advice is to seriously consider what you want out of a Worldcon. You may be better off attending panels and learning from the vast knowledge being shared. (Word of mouth is that the panels were exceptional!) You aren’t going to get any exposure to publishers; if that’s your end goal, you would be better off submitting your work through traditional means. If you still think you can take over the world despite any of my warnings, bring in twice the inventory you would sell at your best convention, and plan on having some left over. Would I attend another Worldcon? Possibly, because Dublin sounds really nice. ;)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Worldcon Post Two: Let's have some fun!

I couldn’t be more excited about the fact that Kansas City is hosting Worldcon 74 (aka MidAmeriCon2)! Even better, it’s is only a week away! I received some great feedback from my last post on Facebook. Some of it made me apprehensive, some was very encouraging, and all comments were welcoming. That last part is my favorite. My goals remain in tact, have fun with friends, make new friends, and share my story!

I’ll have copies of my story at booth 27 in the dealer hall - stop by and you can:

  • Pick up a copy of Angst for only $10 at the con!
  • Sign up for my newsletter for a chance to win a T-Shirt!
  • Meet my muses on Saturday- it’s a great photo opp!
  • Snag a free poster of my gorgeous muses with every purchase!
  • Pre-purchase the 4th Angst novel - “Burning with Angst”!
  • Take a picture the giant sword, Chryslaenor, from the Angst novels!

We are planning to have a great time, and I hope you will join us!

Click here to learn more about my novels!

You can find reviews on Amazon and Goodreads!

Monday, August 1, 2016

Worldcon Post One: I don’t know what I’m doing and I can’t wait!

A few copies of Angst for Worldcon
I’ve been laughing nervously to myself since March when I was told I could have a booth at Worldcon. This is actually going to be the 25th convention I’ve attended and one would think that I have a master plan for World(con) domination! (Mwa ha ha ha). I feel more like the person who shows up at the ice skating rink with roller skates. But it’s all about the adventure, right?

Wiser writers will attend MidAmeriCon2 with a list of goals that include networking, sales targets, maximum visibility, and leveraging synergistic opportunities (see? Business). These sound neat, and even achievable with some past Worldcon experience…which I don’t have. I tried researching to find out what to expect, how many books I should bring since I have a booth, and the best approach at presenting my words. I must have used the wrong google, because there isn’t much out there. So, I’m going to post multiple times about being an indie writer with a booth at Worldcon. This first post is my pre-con apprehension-laden build-up toe-in-unknown-waters post. I’m sharing this as much to get it out of my system, as I am for the other indie writers considering the same path. The next post will be to promote my attendance. After, I’ll share what I learn.

One of my favorite pics from the photoshoot!

Right now I’m experiencing pre-game for the sports fans, or pre-show for the band nerds (I’ve done both). I’m spending more money than I should to make a professional presentation, and while I’m not exactly being bridezilla on a reality show, I want people attending to notice me and my work. I’m trying very hard to make sure everything is perfect. But it's like I'm guiding a missile using the force and I'm unsure where the target is.

New cover for Angst!
I’ve done a few things to prepare for Worldcon. The photoshoot with my muses wasn’t just about spending a day with beautiful friends. (Okay, it was.) But the end result is I will have a new poster to give away with book purchases. The second edition of my first fantasy novel, “Angst,” is now available! Reviewing and editing “Angst” was a chore and a half, but worth the effort. I’m bringing a few copies to sell. Two of my muses will be attending between Friday and Saturday, and they draw in more of a crowd than my ugly mug.

In the end, after the marching band starts pre-game and the first kickoff flies, I do have a plan. I’m planning to make some new friends, have fun, and put on a show. I expect the con to be working fun, like most of them, and I know I’m going to love it! If I happen to sell some books, it’ll be even better.