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Conference Talk

As you read this, I’m on my way to Realm Makers.

Or, maybe you’re not reading it, because you’re on your way, too.

This conference is the highlight of my year (writing-wise, anyway). I love the people, the classes, the camaraderie, the books…

Oh, the books!

Some conferences I’ve been to only have the bookstore open on the final night, and then they try to have a big to-do with author signings and so on. Sometimes it works. The problem with that is that it’s extremely hard to market that sort of thing, especially at a conference center or hotel (or in our case, university). Most of the conference attendees come, and there’s usually a handful of friends and family of the various authors (assuming they’re local) who show up, but it’s not a major to-do like it might be in a big bookstore, and sales are usually frustratingly low for most authors.

It’s the nature of the beast, of course. You try a thousand different things to market your book, including showing up at these signings, and hope some of them stick.

One thing I like about Realm Makers is that the bookstore is open for the entirety of the conference, except for small breaks for meals and things. So you can shop in between classes and browse while you’re hanging out with your friends. Sales usually tend to be pretty good, even though it’s just amongst attendees.

Last year, due to a printing snafu, I was unable to bring my book, The Heir. I sold a few pre-orders, but overall it was very The Heir Coverdisappointing.

Common Homonyms 3This year, I’m more prepared. I’m taking a stack of books, both The Heir and Handy Handbook of Common Homonyms. I have high hopes of making a handful of sales.

But of course, making sales isn’t the only reason I love it.

Conferences are a thing that can really make a career. Of course, not always. You still have to have a good story, a good handle on writing craft, a good platform, and so on, but meeting with agents and editors one-on-one is really how most authors get discovered. Fighting your way out of a slush-pile is nigh impossible, but meeting with someone, getting the chance to share your passion for your story, is an opportunity like no other.

This year, due to a number of converging factors, however, I wasn’t planning to pitch. A last minute addition of a new publisher convinced me to go ahead and bring something to pitch, but it’s very strange to me to not be feeling flustered and nervous about what I’m going to be pitching.

In fact, this may be the first conference where I feel totally prepared. Ahead of time, no less. I usually have some degree of confidence, but this time I was packed and ready to go two days in advance. I have all the things I’m going to need. Even breaking my phone and needing to get the screen replaced at the last minute didn’t stress me out.

So, as you’re reading this, I’m on my way to a conference, partly to continue on my journey of learning and growing as a writer, partly to represent Splickety and Havok, partly to sell some books, partly to pitch and make connections, and partly just because I love it.

So wish me luck, and if you’re there, come say hi! I can’t wait to meet you!



About Avily Jerome

Avily Jerome is a writer and the editor of Havok Magazine. Her short stories have been published in various magazines, both print and digital. She has judged several writing contests and is a writing conference teacher and presenter. She writes speculative fiction, her ideas ranging from almost-real-world action/adventures to epic fantasies to supernatural thrillers.

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