I went to my first UtopYA convention this June (now simply called Utopia Con) and it was quite an amazing experience. This year I signed up for a bunch of cons to sample them and see which ones I liked. I REALLY liked Utopia. Why?
From the first moments – even in the shuttle from the airport – I met very cool authors Diane J Reed and Courtney Farrell who I ended up hanging out with. Waiting in the winding registration line was fun too, because I got into a conversation with Diane about books, promo and all things author. Everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming, not always the case with cons. Special thanks to Nashville author Susan Burdorf for her warm welcome.
|With Katie John|
|clockwise: Courtney Farrell, me,
Diane Reed, Laura Howard
|My book table mate, Selene|
|With Doris from Dowie’s Place|
I shared a book table with Selene Castrovilla, a classmate from my New School MFA Creative Writing days. I also made it my business to get to know people beforehand on the Facebook UtopYA site, which helped break the ice once I got there. It was cool to meet authors in person like Lisa Brown Roberts, Stephanie Pajonas, Natasha Hanova, Carlyle Labuschagne and Pk Hrezo, who I’ve done cross-promo with. Truly surreal to meet people I knew online. Major fun to meet Laura Howard and UK author, Katie John whose blog I actually found years ago. Finally, I am reading one of Katie’s Meadowsweet novels, Vengeance. It’s book two so now I need to go back and read book one. LOL. Meeting Bella Rocaforte was a treat as I love her Inked series. Oh, and I got to meet Angel Lawson who I’m in a boxed set with, launching June 29. It’s called Secret Worlds. We are stoked that it’s already on Amazon bestseller lists from pre-orders. Check it out!
|With Bella Rocaforte|
|With Tina Donnelly|
I can’t forget meeting lovelies Tina Donnelly and Teri Barber who took a chance on my books, and new author, Kristen Bauer with her kids, also book lovers. Bloggers Doris Orman of Dowie’s Place and Ethan Gregory of One Guy’s Guide to Good Reads were fun to meet and chat with. Oh, and Amy Evans and EJ Wesley of NA Alley. The list goes on and on and on. For any Utopia-goers I didn’t mention, know you are ALL awesome and valued.
You see, Utopia is an inclusive con. About thirty of us convened on Thursday evening to go to a local restaurant, Monell’s. There was always an opportunity to join someone for lunch, dinner or a stroll around Nashville. Friday night Diane, Laura and I had an impromptu Tarot salon. I just bought a medieval cat deck! Meeow. I plan to bring my cards next year and have another one.
|With Pk Hrezo|
|With Stephanie Pajonas|
The Saturday public signing was a wild extravaganza with a loud, lively crowd. It was fascinating to go around and see how people decorated their tables and presented books, not to mention the incredible variety of swag from bracelets to raffle baskets to candy and divining cards! I thought Starla Huchson had the most creative display table design. Go, Starla!
One of my regrets was that my Sunday morning flight was so early I had to bail on the Saturday night awards event and the dance afterwards. Boo. Next year I will get a later flight!!!
|Eve Langell tackles Dorianna|
|Blogger rule too!|
One hint that I truly loved the UtopYA experience is that I’ve already bought my ticket and booked the hotel for the 2016 Utopia con! And the buzz on the Utopia Con Facebook site is frenetic with sharing news, launches, blog sites and the like. It’s all about community. I can’t wait to say hi again to my friends, meet those who I didn’t get a chance to this year, and help make first timers as comfortable as I felt being a newbie. Utopia rocks!
Helpful con tips:
*If you have a book table for more than a day, make sure to take breaks to stretch, check out other peeps’ books, attend panels and the like.
*Share a table with someone who can handle hawking your books and vise versa. You can give each other much needed time away from the selling arena. Share a room too. Cheaper that way.
* Reach out, talk to someone you don’t know. Rinse and repeat. It’s a lot about making new friends!
* Get enough sleep and eat healthfully. Your energy can quickly become depleted otherwise.
*Don’t try to do everything. Pick a few panels and events. There’s always next time.
* Practice your sales pitch beforehand. Be able to describe your books in two lines each! People need to hear the info quickly because they’re browsing lots of tables. Make your pitch exciting. Get to the emotional core. Make it memorable and they will return.
*Decorate your table in a fun way that isn’t too cluttered. Arrange books to be easily seen. Offer unique swag no one else has. Not just bookmarks! Offer up a raffle basket or other element.
*Dress comfortably and remember that con ballrooms are air-conditioned and get cold.
*Be friendly to all. No playing favorites!
*Don’t be afraid to go out for a meal with strangers. Strangers quickly become new friends.