Awesome Con was fantastic. I talked to a ton of cool people, connected with a couple authors, and sold some freaking books.
I wish I had the budget right now to do more conventions, but I’ll just have to be patient. At the very least, I can plan to be at Awesome Con again next year. For now, let’s have a look at how well my first novel actually sold at my first convention.
The initial disclosure for this quarterly report: I haven’t sold a book since December. I haven’t had the budget to market it, but I knew Awesome Con could help springboard me into a more active spring and summer in terms of finding readers.
The Book Pricing
To start things off, and to keep the transparency levels high on this here blog, I’ll give you my cost per book. I ordered my books a bit late and had to pay for expedited delivery in order to get them in time.
So the raw cost per book, plus shipping, plus tax, brought my total cost per book to about $8, which is about a dollar higher than I’m used to.
But I kept my direct sales price the same: $10 per book. It’s low, it’s clean, and at this point, it’s more about meeting readers than turning a profit.
Have a graphic!
The Book Selling
I sold 12 copies of The Warden of Everfeld: Memento at Awesome Con.
12 people who spoke to me and were interested enough (in my writing or maybe just me) to buy my book. I say they might have been interested in me not to flaunt my obviously charming demeanor, but to say that sometimes, people buy books because they want to support the author, not necessarily because they want to read that book. I’ve done it, you’ve done it, and that’s okay. Support authors and their work.
Anyway, you can see how many book I sold each of the three days. Saturday was my best with six copies sold. I think I sold three within the first few hours, which was great. I also sold four individual copies that day, meaning someone came to our table, likely heard pitches on each of the five books we were selling, and decided that mine was up their alley.
Amazing. For each of those individual sales, I made $10.
Now, M.L.S. Weech and I also wanted to help each other’s sales, so we created a couple of deals to entice people to buy more than one book for a discount. That’s the benefit of teaming up with other authors or just having more books to sell. Once I actually have more than one story to sell, I can package those into deals too.
So, the big deal we wanted to give readers was 5-for-30: all five of our books for just $30. Because we had five stories that fit into slightly different categories within the sci-fi and fantasy genres, we knew that some readers might be interested in more than one book. Two people decided to take that deal, and I made $8 from each.
The other deal we ran was 2-for-20: two books for $20, usually mine and one of Weech’s longer novels, from which my take was $10 per book.
The 2-for-11 deal on Friday was an aberration. I was talking to someone about our books, and they were interested in mine and one of Weech’s novellas. Weech said he could sell them both for $11, which we happily did. Afterwards, we realized that he did the mental math wrong, so my take was only $8. No big deal. We sold two books to a happy customer, and I made my money back for that book. Things like that tend to happen when you’re haggling, so we just rolled with it.
All told, I sold 12 books for $114.00 and made back a chunk of the money it cost me to attend Awesome Con. Not all of it, and not even half, but a nice chunk.
Quick Lessons about Selling at a Convention
1 – An author with more books to sell will sell more books.
This sounds obvious, but the fact that Weech had four books (and eight stories with his anthology and dual-novella) to sell meant that he had way higher sales totals than me. He simply had more opportunities to entice someone to read his work.
The customer wasn’t into paranormal thrillers? Try this paranormal YA, or this sci-fi anthology, or this alien sci-fi.
A couple of people asked me if I had any other stories for them to read, which means they’re not looking for a one-hit author. They want to know that their investment in my first novel will pay off with more stories to come. That tells me that if I had had two novels, such as my WIP Legacy, I probably could have had a handful more sales from people buying both.
2 – Dipping into different Sub-genres is a good thing.
Following ont he point above, Weech does really well at conventions because his books appeal to different niche audiences. Even though I want to mostly write within my fantasy universe, I can play with the sub-genres to find more readers.
Memento is a classic fantasy adventure. Legacy will be closer to a political drama and war adventure, but also serves as a sequel. What if I published a dark fantasy/horror anthology in the vein of “Wolf’s Moon Night”? Or an anthology of myths like “The Grand Mythos”?
Awesome Con has only reinforced my initial desire to write various kinds of stories within my universe, and that’s a great feeling.
3 – Handing out freebies will increase sales.
Convention-goers will often walk right by your table without a second glance. So we handed out my bookmarks and Weech’s stickers as freebies, trying to get people to look our way.
And it worked… a lot. Most of the sales we made came from people who might have otherwise passed us by had we not handed them our stuff and asked them about their reading preferences. Even if they don’t stop to chat, maybe they’ll like the artwork and check us out online. That’s why we put our websites on them.
These things obviously cost money on our end, but they work. I ran out of bookmarks. I’ll be eagerly checking my KDP dashboard in the coming weeks to see if I get any residual sales from people I met at the convention, or anyone who picked up one of my bookmarks.
4 – Readers love meeting authors and picking their brains.
I can’t count the number of people who instantly became more interested in our books once they knew that we were the authors. Conventions offer a way for readers and authors to connect, and making those connections is often more rewarding than selling books.
Awesome Con was Awesome
That’s the main lesson to take away from this. Conventions are great, and I know they will be a big part of my book marketing efforts going forward.
Now if only I could write more books! Stay tuned for some non-monetary thoughts from my first convention next week.