Monday, September 19, 2011

Adventures at Comiccon

The Montreal 2011 Comiccon has come and gone. This blog entry will provide an account of my experience (a first for me as a writer) at the Comiccon. Was it a resounding success? No. But it was pretty damn good and overall I had a great time during the weekend. I reached my goal in terms of sales and I did a lot of networking, plus I had a lot of good conversations and discussions. I'd brought three books to the convention; my latest novel, Fractured Time, my first novel, Bitternest, and my short story/novella collection, The Bitternest Chronicles. When all was said and done, it was a positive experience. Both days were jam-packed with fans from all over Canada and even from the US. This was the biggest Comiccon in Montreal's history.

Day one was probably the more successful of the two for me. I shared a six foot table with writer/illustrator Aaron Lenk from Toronto. Apparently we were the only authors there apart from celebrity authors like Neal Adams. And I was the only novelist at the Con. A little surprising if you ask me. It shows the state of books in the modern age; do people still read books? Comic books were very popular at the Con but you can get them anytime at a comic book store. In my opinion, a book signed and personally inscribed by the author isn't something you can get every day. I would've believed it would've had more appeal, not to mention that you're supporting local artists by purchasing their work. As far as illustrators and painters and other artists of the kind go, there were plenty of them and their tables attracted many convention-goers.

While there might not have been too many people that were into horror attending the convention, the ones that did showed their support and picked up copies of my books. At the end of the first day, The Bitternest Chronicles had sold out. The old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" proven false as it is definitely the most eye-catching and popular cover of all my books (and the best book cover of all of them in my opinion) and readers were always quick to pick it up. Since Fractured Time is my newest book and an Urban Fantasy, it was the book I was pushing the most. I also figured it might be a little more accessible to people at a comic book convention than my other books since it wasn't strictly a horror book.

Another thing that was fun was to look at everyone who wore a costume; from Star Wars and Star Trek to super heroes and all kinds of crazy outfits, it was a real delight to watch folks walk around dressed up as their favorite characters. What especially caught my eye were the countless women who wore some of the sexiest outfits this side of PG-13. Catwoman, Black Cat, Phoenix, Poison Ivy, Elektra and many others graced the alleys of the Con; they came out in droves. There's something about a woman wearing a skin-tight costume that is just so damn hot!

What I've noticed over the years both online and face to face is that men aren't as receptive as women when it comes to books. And this was proven true in spades this weekend. Most men looked at my books and flipped through them, seemingly thinking "Where are the pictures?" Women on the other hand can appreciate a good novel. My target audience from past experience seems to be women over 30 and that too was confirmed at the con. By the second day, I seldom pitched my books to men; I only went after my target audience. One thing I noticed from the younger crowd was the abundance of requests for my books in Kindle and Kobo format. Duly noted. I think it's safe to say that electronic books are here to stay. I'm glad that Fractured Time is available in all e-formats. A lot of people told me they'd check it out. The only bump in the road Saturday was that the ATM machine in the exhibition hall ran out of funds at the end of the afternoon. I know I lost a handful of sales due to that; people were broke and relied on their debit/credit cards for further purchases and there was no way to make that happen. For us small press guys, every sale counts so it was a bit of a bummer to end the day on that note.

Day two might not have been as good sales-wise but it was a very successful day in terms of networking. From interview requests to offers to review my latest book on genre websites, to even writing an article about me, it put a big grin on my face. I also got an opportunity to sell copies in consignment at a comic book store and that's always cool.

The crowd seemed younger on Sunday and not as receptive to my pitch about my first novel, a vampire book and my second one, a time travel story. Folks seemed to be in a rush and were using artist alley just to get someplace else. There was a two-hour stretch where I lost all hope at one point during the afternoon and where I thought I wouldn't sell a single more book for the rest of the day. I wasn't getting any sales, people were indifferent to my sales pitch, and the customers at the illustrator's table next to mine were overlapping so much on my table that people couldn't even see me anymore, much less hear my pitch. I took off for ten minutes before I lost my cool, and came back to a nice sale. The Universe works in mysterious ways sometimes, doesn't it? Shortly after, my table cleared up of those lingering customers from the other table and I sold the last copy of Bitternest and some more Fractured Time copies so my hope returned for more good business. One of the highlights of the day was a guy that bought one of my books on Saturday that returned to my table and asked me to sign his Comiccon T-shirt on Sunday. That was really cool!

I had a great time with Aaron Lenk and pal David Chan with whom I shared a table. If you're looking for something original and out of the box, check out Aaron's black and white graphic novel series; Dave's Wurld. I hope you guys had a safe trip back to Toronto; drop me a line when you come back to Montreal someday.

A big heartfelt thank you to all those of you who purchased my books; it means a lot that you're willing to part with your hard-earned cash to take a chance on an author you don't know. In retrospect, the only real regrets I have about this con is that I was too busy at my table to even get a glimpse of Stan Lee, Adam West, and Sid Haig. I would've loved to have ten seconds with Stan Lee to shake his hand and tell him, "I grew up reading your comic books. They played a major role in my youth and are partially responsible for getting me into writing; thank you for creating all of them."

Below, I'm posting links to where you can get my books in Canada and in Kindle format on Some sites often suggest that you can still get copies of Sinister Landscapes (a gothic anthology I edited) or Creeping Shadows (a collection of three novellas in which I have a Jack the Ripper novella) in a couple weeks but they are both out of print since earlier this year so don't order them.

I'll be at the Sci-Fi/Fantasy convention Con*Cept from October 14th to 16th next. Stay tuned for more updates on that. Also, I will be distributing a FREE PDF of the top secret novella I've been working on these past two months on Halloween day so be sure to come back to my blog for that. It'll give you a chance to sample my writing.

If you have a Facebook page, feel free to add me:

Kindle on (Fractured Time priced at only $5.49)

Aaron Lenk's Dave's Wurld

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