Now that I’ve gotten a little perspective from Archon and have a chance to sort through my impressions I can see the mistakes I made.
First off, I underestimated just how crippling my social anxiety can be. I was simply useless as far as the sales aspect of the table was concerned. The few sales that were made were from the other people who manned the table.
Second, the dealer’s room at a convention is a very bad place to try to interest buyers in something new. The dealers who were successful were selling items geared towards an existing fandom. There was such a wealth of material that buyers already knew that they liked. And it didn’t help that we were seated next to a woman who was liquidating her collection at a loss and selling classic hardbacks for a dollar each.
Third, we had too many titles, and none of us were familiar with all of them. I had set up a table for browsing, but it wasn’t a venue for browsing. If we had been the only table in the room then maybe we would have done better, but there was just too much stuff in the room and buyers kept moving to see what else was around the next corner.
Ben Reeder, who had the table next to ours, did far better. He had only his own books, set up in two distinct series and he had a well practiced pitch for both.
However, I did enjoy the panel discussion that I took part in, and I think that the audience got something out of it. We had a very diverse group of authors and I think we showed just how many different options there are for independent publishing. I wanted to leave the audience with a feel for the degree of freedom that authors have to choose the paths that work best for them and their work, and I think we did that.
I have heard people say that public speaking frightens them, but that’s not the kind of social anxiety I have. I can lecture all day as long as I am talking about a subject that interests me. It’s trying to talk one on one about random small talk subjects that paralyzes me.
I am considering doing another convention in February. If I do I will do it much differently. I won’t try to sell books, won’t have a table in the dealer’s room. Instead I will concentrate on panel discussions and volunteer for as many as will have me.
Still thinking it over.