A Writer in a Savage Land – Or, Very Small Victories

I recently had a very interesting experience; the folks at my publisher, Dark Dragon Publishing, were able to wrangle me a table for the weekend at Fan Expo Vancouver. Though there were some really cool things, I find myself still feeling a little disheveled, like a cat that has been rubbed backwards by an exuberant four-year-old.

On the first day a young man, wearing an extremely tight, shiny Green Lantern costume walked up to my table and picked up a copy of my book.

“What’s this?” he asked, frowning down at my novel.

“It’s a story about Mounties fighting evil in a small coastal town,” I said, happy that someone was actually talking to me.

“No,” he said, sneering at me like I was an idiot. “I mean, is this a book?”

“Uh, yeah,” I said, starting to feel this conversation was not going to go well.

“I don’t read books,” he said with an exaggerated sniff while he tossed my story back on the table like it was a half-eaten twinkie. “They’re too archaic.”

It was at that moment that I learned two very important lessons: there is an extreme disconnect between me and the youth of today, and just because a costume zips up, doesn’t mean it fits.

Latex body suits are a privilege, not a right.

Let me continue by saying that I met some fantastic people while I was there. Frank, from Aspen Comics, (www.aspencomics.com), who started out as a small enterprise and has turned into a significant player in the comic book industry, took some time to give me a little advice on self-promotion and perseverance in the face of abysmal disappointment. Brad Middleton, author of “Undead TV”, was forced to sit beside me and put up with me and my horrible jokes for 2 days, and successfully refrained from beating me to death with a plastic chair. I also have to extend a huge thanks to the organizers of the event for letting an uneducated, unknown, uncouth goon into their midst to sling books for 2 days.

I also had some cool experiences while I was there; I saw some really cool costumes, had a couple of conversations with aspiring writers, and got close enough to Stan Lee to smell his cologne (I think it was Old Spice). But I’m not sure how enthusiastic I’d be about going to another comic book convention.

An event like this is a difficult venue for trying to pitch a novel. The folk who attended were there because they were hardcore fans of comic books – I mean, you’d have to be to line up for 3 hours to pay sixty dollars to get your picture taken with Stan Lee, or Spike from “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”

There was very little interest in a full length novel. For the 16 hours I was there, and the fifty-thousand-some-odd people that walked through the convention center, I sold 8 books. The guy sitting next to me sold 2. The poor bastard who was two rows over sold absolutely nothing – Not a Thing – the whole time he was there, and that seemed to be a fairly common theme among the other authors in attendance. I’m not pointing fingers here; it’s not the fault of the organizers or of the attendees. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t the right venue for an author.

I’ve heard that other such events have several panels and discussions for authors/storytellers. There wasn’t a place for that at Fan Expo Vancouver, and it seemed more geared towards giving comic book fans access to their favorite celebrities, or for comic book vendors to sell their wares.

My interest is more directed at the craft of storytelling, regardless of how many books I sell, and there wasn’t much opportunity for that. I did have one awesome conversation with a poet named Sher, who was looking for some pointers on writing horror fiction, but that was the total extent of the craft that was discussed.

As I sit writing this, I guess I really do have to count the event as a win. I reached 8 new readers, who are going to take a ride through my story and hopefully draw something from it. I got to help out a fledgling storyteller (even more fledgling than I am, which is saying something), and hopefully give her a little encouragement as she starts her own journey towards finding her voice as a writer.

The more I think about it, the more positive I grow. No, it was not a huge success, but this writing life is about tiny steps and small victories. It’s about finishing one story, selling one book, reaching one person. There aren’t huge leaps and bounds, but there is definite movement, and as long I’m writing, it’ll movement in the right direction.

Now, let’s carry on. There are lost young men, in latex Green Lantern outfits, that desperately need our help.

And, as always, thanks for reading.



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5 responses to “A Writer in a Savage Land – Or, Very Small Victories

  1. Do yourself a favour. Come to see us at Pure Speculation http://www.purespec.org in November. Edmonton’s weather may be a bit dodgy, but the fans are warm, and we love authors at our convention. You can talk with the readers, meet other writers, and sell a few books. And by then I may have finished the e-reader version of your book that I got for my iPhone! I like what I’ve read so far.
    Diane (Managing Editor On Spec Magazine http://www.onspec.ca)

    • Diane, thanks for the positive comment, and thanks for reading my story.

      I would be delighted to come to another conference and will see if I can get the time off and put in an application.

      Thanks much,

      • We took On Spec to the Calgary Comic Expo last weekend. While many folks who stopped at the table to give us a look were honest when they sheepishly said they didn’t read much (not even SF and Fantasy), we still managed to sell about 62 copies of the magazine, so one magazine for every thousand or so of the people there. Could have been worse.

  2. RofL. Men in green spandex pftttting YOU for having the grit to write what they haven’t the gumption to conceive, let alone execute. Anyone can dress up as a favorite character and fawn over its creator; it takes someone special to _be_ the creator. And there’s always the Graphic Novel route if you want to lure costume-cloaked youths to the dark side. *g*

  3. Too funny… The Green Lantern dude cracked me up. I’ve had two thoughts: First, selling your novel at a comic book convention is like grooming an aligator at a dog show. You may generate some interests but few will come to pet it. Second, anytime you have to add as many pictures as you have text, you aren’t exactly co-located in the seat of literacy. Smile and be thankful to know that at least you were one of the stalwarts that can still speak in full sentences.

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