Sharing a table is a lot of fun.

Last month, I wrote about how selling books in person as a vendor at conventions (or “cons” for short) is a great way to get in front of your audience. However, there are many more benefits of attending conventions, whether as a vendor or just as a participant. Because—not only are you as a writer and author attending these conventions—but your fellow writers and authors are as well. If you want to network with others who have also published books, then conventions can be the best way to do this while also selling your books to potential readers.

Part of networking at conventions is discussing the craft with others who are doing the same thing you are. You can learn a lot from someone who has gone through the process to make hardcovers, audiobooks, or even books in different genres. It’s great to see others selling books at these cons, not only because you want your peers to succeed, but it also shows what kinds of books are selling. Is a particular genre hot right now? Does a book’s cover art make it an easy sell? Are the author’s blurbs and sales pitches catching customers’ attention?

Cons are a great way to expand your network.

Most authors have gone through the same editing, formatting, and cover creation process that you’re likely to experience. If there’s someone in your publication process that isn’t working for you, ask around to see if these authors can introduce you to the people they use. It can be easier to trust someone who has come through for an author before than just hoping that an individual you hired from Fiver or Upwork will complete their work to your satisfaction.

Of course, many cons have more than just authors present in the vendor area. I have found several potential artists that I can commission to create future cover art at these conventions—especially the Comic Cons. Partnering with local artists is a great way to cross-promote as well, since your book covers might attract customers who would want similar art from the artist who has a vendor table of their own.

Leading a panel on audiobooks at COSine 2022.

If you’re committed to growing as an author, many conventions have panels you can attend without the need to purchase a vendor table. These panels can have a wide variety of topics, but the conventions focused on writing and books will often have experienced authors discuss various facets of their process. These panels are fantastic resources to educate yourself on some minutiae that you might not yet understand on your writing journey.

For some examples, I have spoken on several panels over the years and even moderated a few of them as well. I have discussed topics as diverse as…

The great part about conventions is how casual they can be. Everyone you talk to is usually friendly and would love to talk about their craft if you ask them about it. After a while, the more conventions you attend, then the more you get to know the “convention crew” of other authors who also attend and sell books at these events. Not only can you then direct potential customers to authors who write in different genres, but they can send customers your way as well. Ultimately, cons are a fun and easy way to network and improve your knowledge about writing and being an author.

Do you know of any other networking opportunities?
What questions would you ask an author?
What topics could you discuss on a panel?

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