Aries’ Red Sky‘s Audiobook is live on Audible. If you’ve got a long trip coming up, feel free to go grab a copy!
Part of the reason I’ve taken so long to do this AAR is that I was having trouble trying to put the experience into words. It’s been two weeks since I loaded out of Indianapolis and began the long trip home…and I still find myself having a goofy smile for no good reason. If you crossed Toad the Wet Sprocket’s Walk on the Ocean with some goth synth metal fantasy power ballad all over a rolling dice track, that would probably be what my homage to “The Best Four Days in Gaming” would probably be. Which is ironic, because I didn’t do a whole lot (read none) of gaming.
So what was so great about it? More on that later.
TL:DR for those here for the “Go or not go…” from the author’s perspective: That hall is wait listed for a reason, and I did great fiscal murder there. With only books, my books, as in I couldn’t even take any anthologies there. No prints either. So, if you want a chance to hand out your swag at a con that has (conservatively) to 75,000 rabid gamers and can get into the author alley, go.
NOTE: I was wait listed and got into Author’s Alley late.
I will add this caveat, however: Lodging is going to eat you alive. If you are comfortable with Air BnB, several vendors had success with that. However, if you’re not comfortable with Air BnB, expect to spend upwards of $600 on lodging, and that’s if you don’t stay downtown. Which, for the love of God, stay downtown if you can. Technically, according to the hotel I was staying at and Mapquest, it should have taken 25 minutes to get downtown. Yeaaah, that’s not counting weekday rush hour my friends. Time is money, and in this case it’s worth that extra $10-$15 a night to be able to walk back to your hotel if necessary.
The tables in Author’s Alley were your standard 6-foot con table. As originally set up, the grey walls behind were angled in order to make them slightly more stable. This…this was a problem, as it sharply constricted the back area space, meaning I had to empty two of my book crates:
Despite the booth shock, load in (and load out) went really well. This was a con that took security seriously, and woe be unto you as a vendor or help if you did not have your badge during setup. Park in Parking Lot A if you go–it’s not that much further than the “Marshalling Yard” behind the building, and you won’t have to wait for a pass to park.
The crowd, as to be expected from the gaming community, was mostly (high and epic) fantasy fans, then about 75% of those sci-fi as well. The Butcher’s Blade print, as always, was a life saver. As my neighbors all observed, it made people stop and look, I could engage them in conversation, and at that point the magic usually happened. Again, if only I had apparently talked to the right person and been told “book related merchandise” was safe to sell.
Speaking of fantasy, it also helped that I had great neighbors. To my right was fellow sci-fi author Hans Cummings:
To my left was Fantasy Author J.J. Sherwood (here with your humble host and her hubs, Michael):
Good neighbors make any Con go well, and J.J. and Hans were awesome. Since J.J. did not do sci-fi, she sent folks over to me. As I lacked fantasy, I sent folks over to her. It went really well.
So, again, if you have a chance to do GENCON as an author, do it.
If you have a chance to go to GENCON as a guest? Well, now we get to where I talk about “tribe.” For those of you who don’t know, I’m a huge role playing game fan. (“Wait, wait…you dropped DnD references and names throughout An Unproven Concept.”) Being around 75,000 other people who shared the same passion was amazing. I spent most of the weekend talking to people with whom I didn’t have to explain phrases like, “Oh, so you’re a World War II buff as well? I shall now make my persuasion roll with advantage…” (and yes, she bought the alternate history anthology). Even better when you see familiar faces from the Kansas City area and do a mutual “Wait, what? Why are you here?!” Plus, there were cool books like this:
And a truly impressive charity set up:
In addition, there’s Critical Role Live (if you get your tickets early enough):
I was in a theater with over 2,000 fellow crazies when this brought the house down:
Courtesy of Leigh 574
For those of you who don’t know who that is or why we were all ecstatic about a man in a pink suit on roller skates coming out with a headlight in his crotch, I can only point you here, then point you here, and say this has been one of the best stories I’ve ever consumed.
Finally, I got to see old friends after several years. To include my friend Quiltoni (“Queen of the Quilts” as I’ve been known to call her) and her merry band of booth helpers.
So to recap: Go to GENCON for the sales, stay for the community. It’ll probably be the best 4 days of your life, the people were awesome, and I have zero regrets about taking the plunge into Author’s Avenue (even with the spinning wheel of doom). I don’t know if I’ll do it next year (I have my sights set on a couple of other shows that might eat the leave), but it was worth it this year.
Quick blog post so folks know where to find me at GENCON! I’m at Table H in Author Avenue! Map below!
Also look for the spinning Author Avenue / Art Show sign right above Tables E and F:
Hope to see you folks there!
On the transitory nature of things: So I’ve mentioned Project Wonderful on here a couple of times. Well, after over a decade of great adverts at low prices, they’re closing their doors. It’s like going in to check on a great restaurant you used to frequent…only to find that they’ve been closed for several weeks. Yes, feelings of guilt may be involved. However, it sounds like the advertisement market is just going through some serious change.
On eternal arguments: I work in a building with several other air enthusiasts. This includes a gentleman who has been in the Commemorative Air Force almost as long as I’ve been alive. Well, if there’s one discussion you can expect to have with a fellow flight fiend, it’s “What do you think is the best fighter of World War II?”
I think I threw him for a loop when I came back immediately with, “Where am I flying and what’s my mission?”
“That’s overcomplicating things, don’t you think?”
“Not really. If I don’t have to go above 10,000 feet and ground fire isn’t that much of a problem…”
“Fine, what’s your favorite fighter of World War II.”
*without missing a beat* “P-47, all day, every day.”
“So you don’t think it’s the best fighter of World War II?”
“There I was over the Philippines when my only engine conked out.”
“Okay, good point.”
On nerves: No matter how many cons I do, I still have those moments where I’m afraid the whole thing is going to be like the scene from Carrie, i.e., “They’re all going to laugh at you!” (
Except, you know, hopefully I don’t get that homicidal surge to go with my previously largely nascent telekinesis.) It’s silliness–I actually like going to cons and getting to meet new fans. Plus the dealer room closes early at GENCON so vendors can game.
Speaking of gaming, I’ve been playing a lot of D&D 5th Edition. While I grew up with 2nd Edition and played a bit of 3.5, I think 5e has hit the sweet spot between “Having a d20 system that keeps folks honest…” yet being simple enough that you can teach someone to play well in a matter of hours. Even better: The Better Half has started to apply her talents to preparing game sets:
Anyway, enough musing for the night. Time to take Mama Shark her copy of Aries’ Red Sky in the AM.
For those of you awaiting Aries’ Red Sky, today is release day! Go on out and buy yourself some carnage! Audiobook to be coming soon!
In support of Aries Red Sky (available here), I had some work commissioned by A.R. Crebs. A.R. is a fellow author as well as an artist, and I’ve mentioned her before when discussing the system maps for the book’s interior. Introducing Oscar and Ollie, a pair of otters who are the subject of a 31st Century children’s show (of which more will be written later):
Hope you find these two images amusing. They serve the basis for the unit patch for VF(S)-10, the “Obstinate Otters.”
Greetings all, it’s been awhile. Lots of good news, and there will be a longer newsletter (subscribe here). But first, three items of major import:
As of 11 May 2018 I have received my doctorate in U.S. History from Kansas State University. Here is one picture of me getting hooded by my committee chair, Dr. Don Mrozek:
The next piece of news is that I will be at Smallville Comic Con in Hutchinson, KS on 23-24 June 2018. We will be at Booth #44:
Last but far from least, the next Vergassy Universe novel, Aries Red Sky, is available for pre-order from Amazon. Feel free to pick up a copy so that it will download on its release date, 24 July. Also, if you prefer audiobooks, a producer has been hired for the book with an expected completion date of 10 August on ACX.
That’s all for now! Hope you are all doing and have a chance to pick the book up.
News Item #1: An Unproven Concept is now on sale. It will also be promoted by Free Kindle Books and Tips (a promotion website that comes highly recommended).
Please go to their FB page and give the promotion post a like to increase its FB reach.
News Item #2: Acts of War and Collisions of the Damned will shortly both be available for circulation with the Mid-Continent Public Library system in Kansas City, Missouri. This should also make them available for inter-library loans elsewhere in the United States.
News Items #3: On 31 January, I successfully defended my dissertation. Barring a few minor edits and rework of the conclusion, the long twilight struggle against academics is now over. Not quite a “Tearing down the Berlin Wall…” moment, but it’s definitely up there!
Article on selling at cons by fellow indie author John G. Hartness. Long-time readers of this blog will note the similarities in advice.
There have been several developments in the indie publishing world as of late:
First, Draft 2 Digital is making a major effort to establish themselves as a major distributor competing with Amazon’s behemoth. A few weeks ago, there was the announcement of a new audiobook service that, unlike Audible, does not have a sliding royalty scale based on exclusivity. As someone who sells at cons, you best believe that caught my attention as I could theoretically get CDs pressed to sell at the booth and still have my books distributed on Audible, Itunes, etc.. No, I haven’t looked into it yet as I’ve been a mite busy, but I’ll probably get around to it soon.
The second step that Draft2Digital took was to link up with Overdrive. If you don’t know what Overdrive is, a short synopsis is here. The Passive Voice gives his opinion here, and a couple of folks chime in their opinions via comments. I’ve already clicked my 2 books through Draft2Digital onto Overdrive–I’ll let you know if there’s a big difference in my sales.
These changes are big news for those who are considering “going wide” and eschewing KDP’s exclusive agreement. Why would someone do this, given that KULL will pay you for page lends? Well, perhaps because there’s been a rush of articles on how KULL’s pot (which is fixed) is being scammed, clickfarmed, and otherwise cheated in a way that hurts honest authors. This blog, in particular, got widespread attention among indie authors and content sites. Although I think there are completely legitimate ways that an author can bottle lightning and suddenly have a whole bunch of page views, I can see the author’s larger point that this looks suspicious as hell.
In any case, Amazon has announced that they are revamping the way borrowed pages are counted. If you’re in the KDP program, you should probably check your book’s pages and monitor to see if the new platform changes your page counts. Hopefully, this makes scamming the system far less lucrative, and also allows honest authors to have higher payments.