What You Need to Know Before Signing With Westbow Press

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I’m sure you’ve heard of or seen Westbow books if you’ve ever been through a Christian bookstore. They’re a part of Thomas Nelson and Zondervan—so they’ve got some serious backing. They are the “co-publishing” wing of the bigger house and they guarantee that everyone who publishes through them will have their manuscript evaluated by their parent houses.

Over the last couple of years and last couple books I’ve had a few conversations with them. I went into a scheduled phone call with them with some numbers already determined. Like most indie writers, you’d probably look at their “publishing packages” and think—I’d probably have to save up but could maybe swing the lowest costing option—still over $1,000.

Being the creative guru I am and knowing what it actually costs to bring an indie book to print, I ran the numbers. I’d planned on a 160 page paperback in a 6×9 format and price it at 9.99. I can have that made via Createspace at no setup cost and my copies will cost 2.77, leaving a profit margin of 7.22 per book—I did it for both comparison purposes and to find out where my break-even price is. In my mind, co-publishing means that they would want to do something to make a part of the profits, right? Wrong. That’s not how they work. They sell you a package and then you still do all the long-term work such as marketing—unless you pay them more money to do added services… sounds an awful lot like Xulon to me. Or, gasp, Publish America?

Since most of the services they list in their publishing packages have little or no actual cost (for real? A cost to insert images into your book? Haven’t they heard of drag and drop?) for someone with a little talent or willingness to put in some effort, the lowest package amounts to those 5 “free” paperback copies actually costing you $220 apiece. Also, they won’t do anything in ebook unless you upgrade your package and pay them another $900 and upgrade into the next package (or put the book on Amazon or B&N).

Of course, there’s the usual spiel: “we only plan to make money off our sales percent,” (which is way too high and you only get a 25% author discount… if this were true you would get the books at close to cost.) This is untrue. I pointed that out when the Westbow sales agent tried to get me to bite on the lowest package after learning I couldn’t be talked into a more expensive one. She had tried to steer me to a higher one by mentioning I would not have U.S. Copyright registration provided as a service. “Um,” I replied, “you always have the copyright to anything you publish or self publish… this is not my first rodeo.” Of course she also tried the typical sales script, “One of the things we allow for is for you to retain complete copyright of your book.” I’m sure she hated talking to me since I responded with facts like, “the whole publishing industry is built on selling rights for an author’s work—why would I pay money to a publisher for them to be able to make money off selling my hard work? I’m here to actually sell, my ultimate goal is to sell the rights. Keeping them is the opposite of what I want! Give me money and you can have the rights—that’s how this works!”

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I would have less issues with a company that charged (even forced the charges as part of a package) if they were truly geared towards making authors successful, but with the price margins set up the way they are, companies are CERTAINLY trying to take advantage of enthusiastic indies and use them as free marketing employees. This isn’t just Westbow. It’s everyone. And it’s got to stop if you want to honestly say “we are about making money off of your book sales instead of off fees to authors.” One of the reasons there are so many indie authors that get burned out after the first book is that they flame out in a colossal heap of ruin… but the publisher still turns a profit because they made at least a thousand bucks even if the author could never sell a copy. There needs to be some kind of intermediate company out there to work with co-published indies which spends the bulk of their resources doing targeted sales of their books to brick and mortars as well as distribution and targeted individual sales via creative advertising methods. A publisher that is truly about the writers—it would succeed, but they couldn’t print everyone and instantly capitalize on the unpolished dreams of the writers as it seems all “copublishers” do. I wasn’t asked very many questions about my book; nobody qualified it to see if it should really be printed (and if it is, is there a market and how much refining work needs to go into the text to make it “not suck.” And let’s face it, most first time authors looking at self-publishing are still a few drafts away from “ready.” But don’t worry, at the $2,000 mark you also get an editorial assessment—but according to disgruntled Westbow authors you might be better off having a class of sixth graders group edit your manuscript as an English class project—they might even work for Cheetos and soda.) The reason they pull all these shenanigans: their folks get commissions for their sales packages (I verified later from an internet search, but as a commissioned salesman in years past I spotted the all the signs and pressure sales tactics a mile away.)

Basically I came away with the understanding that the only reason to use Westbow (provided you can do some of the very basic things like hire your own editor, utilize the createspace cover designer, or pretty much anything I’ve taught people to do through my blog,) is get a cursory look at your manuscript by a slush-pile sifter at Zondervan/Thomas Nelson and (if you pay for a package $2,000 or more) have access to be purchased via shoppers at Christian Book Distrubutors/CBD (see an earlier post about my frustrations over the impossibility of getting in there.) For just a few hundred bucks, though, you could go to a Christian writers conference, get some skills and contacts, and also have the same ability to pitch your work to reps from a bigger house (only it might be more convincing in person,) and I told the nice lady at Westbow as much. I think she thought her sale was a slam dunk—she had salesmanship talents, but I had facts and predetermined numbers from my experience as an indie.

Westbow might be a decent alternative if you have a large platform and have already got a strong enough sales records/expectations because of a traveling ministry circuit to allow for a $3,200 or more package just so you can be carried on Christian Bookstore shelves (your copies will be otherwise be just as unreturnable as any Createspace titles.) And if you want any sort of media campaign to have publicists work on your behalf to get the title into those stores without doing all the legwork yourself then be prepared to swallow an $18,000 price tag.

Here’s the rub… if you’re going to need to do all of the legwork yourself anyhow you would be better off financially if you went the indie route (even spring an extra chunk of change to invent the name of your own imprint publisher so that it doesn’t come up as Createspace—it’s a $100 add on) and independently hired a publicist… it would cost about $6,000 on top of getting your book ready and comparable promotional materials. A savvy indie author (or someone who just followed my blog religiously,) could realistically get their book out with paperback copies and promotional materials in hand AND have returnability via Ingram distribution for only a few hundred dollars—something that Westbow would charge more than $2,000 to do… you could even hire that personal publicist and come out at a third of Westbow’s service charges.

In the end they wanted me to buy in at a minimum of $3,150 so that they could sell a ten dollar book for $15 and charge me 11.25 per copy despite actual production costs closer to $3 (meaning they make $2 for every dollar I make AFTER PRODUCTION COSTS—and that’s if I inflate the production costs to about $4.) At least at this price point the stores have returnability so I could theoretically get my books on shelves… if I can personally contact a bunch of stores and get them on shelves through my own efforts… that makes the break-even point for me a minimum of 840 book sales. Up to the break-even point Westbow will make $15,749 gross profit before you earn your first real penny in the black—but that’s only if you work your rear-end off to market and sell the product that you already poured your heart, soul, and more money by way of editors, time, etc. into.)

If I up my price to $15 and sell the book on my own through Ingram at the max discount (it’s around 60%) I’ll still make about $3 per book and I can sell it on Amazon as well for ten bucks and make $3.25 per sale. If I was smart and follow this blog I did it for no cost and have already broken even—I could still do that promo and legwork and if I sell 840 books I’ve made over $2,500.
(you can check out package costs here:
http://www.westbowpress.com/Packages/PackageCompare.aspx
and the Createspace creation calculator here:
https://www.createspace.com/Products/Book/)

For a certain type of writer this might be a great option for a publisher (and I’m honestly considering using them for my devotional book in the off chance I can’t secure regular publishing for it.) However, one thing was certain: when she told me “our goal is to make money off of your book sales and NOT from the author,” that is certainly a falsehood. Christian-book-publishing might be as secular as any other cut-throat business, regardless of the product’s contents.

Until the copublishing/price-sharing/self-publishing houses figure out that authors aren’t stupid people they will continue running schemes and scams on us. Unfortunately, most starry-eyed first-timers are just happy to talk to a publisher (of any variety) and so they get suckered into agreements. Hopefully this post has been of help to you (I know it’s long) and please share it and become a regular follower of my adventures in writing.

Review: Dahler & Nicholls Fight Crime (Crime Wins)

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I wasn’t entirely certain what to expect when I agreed to review Dahler & Nicholls Fight Crime (Crime Wins). I don’t remember what I expected (in fact, I’d quite lost track of the fact that I’d even agreed to it as I keep a pretty regular slew of things in my reading pile—and then it arrived in the mail and jogged my memory.)  I’m only certain that I didn’t really expect this. I was pleasantly surprised.

While growing up I read about everything I could get my hands on and Dahler & Nicholls reminds me of a few comic collections my grandmother had and brought on some of the feels. It most reminded me of some Marmaduke collections I’d read because of the art style and format (single pane comic installments) and the character of Nicholls made me think of a witless Dick Tracy, but that’s probably because his suit and hat are yellow on the cover.

The humor leans whimsical and into irony so it’s a light-hearted read. The only thing that threw me was the size of the book (8.5 x 11). I thought it was a coloring book when I got it in the mail. There’s no real gripe there—I’m just familiar with a format that’s so much smaller (like a 5 x 8) so it threw me a bit at first, but I’d recommend this title. You can get a copy of Dahler & Nicholls Fight Crime by clicking here.

State of Writing

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So much happened last week. I started writing the sequel to Wolf of the Tesseract and nearly finished the prologue. I also sat down to talk with a man who found my nonfiction book on the internet and arranged to meet and discuss the book and how I might be able to help with HIS research. That was pretty cool.

I went to the #mnww Minnesota Writers Workshop which I’d been planning on for almost two years, now. Not only did I learn a ton, but I also got the chance to meet some agents and pitch them Fear in a Land Without Shadows. I’ve got agents requesting chapters 🙂
I also met some other authors, two of whom were also faith-based writers.

Beyond that, I discovered my Kakos Realm series was also mentioned in the UK spec fic podcast. Super cool… now I just need to decide two things. 1. Will I attend Realm Makers writers conference this summer in Reno (they have a teen track I could take my daughter to–she is a budding writer–and Ted Dekker is the keynote speaker). 2. If I go to Realm Makers where I would have the opportunity to pitch faith-based agents and publishers,  should I switch gears and begin my Hidden Rings of Myrddin the Cambion series? My thoughts are that too much attention on WotT might distract from a new book with another, bigger publisher and it would be easier to get another publisher/agent if I had something fresh and new–on the other hand, perhaps someone like Castle Gate Press might like to pick up the series (but I’d have to show very strong sales from the first book). Lots to think about.

 

I came across a great article last night while doing some reading. It brings up both the psychology about how we decide what kind of fiction we prefer (based on the question, “what kind of setting is our ideal paradise?”) and how Sci-Fi and Fantasy are barely even a mention within the Christian genre of fiction. They’ve got plenty of Amish Romance, but Amish Vampires in Space is a no-no.

The crazy thing is (and nobody talks about it, although I did hear Chip Ingram’s radio sermon briefly touch on it,) Romance-novel escapism is basically the equivalent to porno-mags for many people. They are wholesale endorsed (as long as there are no exposed, rippling muscles on the cover, and references to a “turgid member” are kept to a minimum,) by the Christian market. We can thank Pat Pulling‘s spec-fic McCarthyism for that… but more on that topic later. It will be the subject of a future nonfiction I’m working on.

Check out the intriguing article, Why Does Christian Romance Outsell Christian Fantasy?
http://www.speculativefaith.com/why-does-christian-romance-outsell-christian-fantasy/

Different Dynamics Between Christian & Secular Bookstores

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Man oh man, the more I peek behind the curtain of the publishing industry, the further this rabbit hole seems to go. Specific to faith-based writers, a whole different set of circumstances apply. It may be both easier and still yet harder to place your books in stores.

Sarah Bolme writes some wise words of interest to Christian Indies on her blog, Marketing Christian Books. She ought to know something about that; she is the director of the CSPA (Christian Small Publishers Association.

On the page I link below she cites a couple truths that we ought to keep in mind.
It is extremely difficult to get Christian bookstores to stock titles from independently published authors and small publishers. This much is obvious and the reasons are far-flung and perhaps even broader than in secular markets (“Oh, this book is a lynch-pin for my faith…oh wait, you’re a National Convention Baptist of the USA instead of a National Convention Baptist of America? I think you’d better leave.”)

Having your book in the right distribution channels is required for a Christian bookstore to stock it. This second, lesser known truth is a big deal. A decade ago when my first book came out I kind of poo-pooed the distribution stuff because I didn’t really understand it. I really only knew that you needed to be in Ingram and Baker and Taylor and that Bowker was a thing I should know about, but didn’t. Here it is in a nutshell: many Christian book stores don’t use Ingram or B&T. They use Christian specific distributors. Bolme notes “Even if your book is selling like hotcakes, Christian bookstores won’t stock it unless they can order it from a Christian distributor. Createspace’s expanded distribution will place your book in Ingram, but not in Spring Arbor.” FYI, Spring Arbor is part of Ingram. Being in Spring Arbor means you’re in Ingram, but being in Ingram doesn’t mean you’re in Spring Arbor.

It may also be just because of her slant and work within the CSPA, but belonging to professional organizations is increasingly appealing to me the further I tumble down towards Wonderland. I’ll keep you all posted on that.

I don’t follow many blogs closely (I more or less stumble onto things like a clutzy, brain-starved zombie meandering through a county fair’s midway,) but this blog is one that’s worthy of having delivered to your inbox (or course, so is mine—so signup asap).

Here is a link to the article on Marketing Christian Books
https://marketingchristianbooks.wordpress.com/2016/10/17/how-to-get-a-book-into-a-christian-bookstore

Review: Bloodrooted

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You can feel the tropes interwoven through Bloodrooted. Vampires, and werewolves, and government operatives, oh my. I received a copy of the book in exchange for a review from Mr. Costas. I should probably mention right here that my first statement isn’t something I see as a bad thing. I love tropes. People who love werewolves vs vampires REALLY LOVE the genre… so it helps identify what we’re going to like. (although I mean werewolves figuratively and as a part of the overall gothic “world of darkness theme” …this book only deals with the less furry aspects of the horror genre and the book doesn’t actually touch on them… so think Twilight #1 but not #2–scratch that… nothing should be compared to Twilight. these vampires don’t sparkle).

Strengths? Costas does really well with dialogue and with character building. He brought Kane into the story in such a way that you want to know more (and then more certainly unfolds.) Some of the other characters feel more wooden, but that only compounds your interest in the main character.

Weaknesses? The writing could be tighter and suffers from some common mistakes authors make earlier in their careers–but the storyline does trump that. Not sure that I like the cover. I do and I don’t all at the same time. I’ll get over it. My formatting did seem wonky–but I didn’t get mine delivered through Amazon/Kindle, so it’s probably not an issue if you buy the consumer copy.

Overall: it has a feel of so many good stories mashed up (Daybreakers, Underworld, hints of the Matrix at times.) If you like werewolves and vampires, this is one you will want to follow.

You can check the story out here.

State of Writing + free books Today only

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So much busy-ness this week. Well, weekend. I keep pretty busy in the youth work that I do and we’ve been relaunching all of our ministry and activities into a new format, plus planning fundraisers. I don’t have much free time or gas-in-tank over the last few weeks’ worth of evenings and I’ve spent most of what I have editing. I sat down this weekend, however, and did a bunch of stuff on my to-do list… mostly promo stuff. I’m feeling pretty accomplished this week.

Worked with some illustrators overseas to do some comic book designs for a promo comic I’m putting together to help sell books at Comicon. I also got the second installment of The Kakos Realm published and live today. If you sign up for my mailing list you will get a coupon code that lets you get the first book for free!

If that’s not enough, I’ve got two other promos going TODAY ONLY. You can get my sci-fi Dekker’s Dozen: The Last Watchmen for free and you can also pick up my best-selling Why Your Pastor Left.

The Crazy Side of Blogging & Writing

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So yeah. There’s a lot of idiots out there and all of them feel entitled to put others down and go crazy with their opinions. I think this post is a bit of a PSA to warn those who would engage me in all forms of jackassery that I do rebroadcast your nonsense for the rest of the world to shake their head at. (I had to post another recent gem from an author who did almost the exact same thing and also resorted to name calling and profanity because of his failure to read submissions guidelines.)

Most of the garbage I get thrown on me is from authors who fail to properly read my submissions guidelines which I’ve clearly posted must be adhered to for writers to get a book review posted on my site. Today I got a wonderful gem from an author who didn’t like getting my occasional newsletter (or the fact that I believe in Jesus/identify as a Christian.) He not only failed to read what genres I read/review (none of his books fit and he never received one,) but he failed to see “When you pitch me you understand that you will be put on my occasional mailing list.” (under the heading “What I require when requesting a review.”)

For your viewing pleasure, “a lesson in how to be a dick on the internet:”

Reply from my mailchimp campaign with some book giveaways in which I mention
“PLEASE leave me highly positive reviews on those titles–they help other people find the books and decide to purchase. It’s the most important way that readers can help and it’s all I really wanted for Christmas… you will also notice that there are 1-star reviews on each title left by atheists whose only problem with the books are that they are Christian in nature and so they’ve tried to hurt my author reputation by leaving flame/troll negative reviews. Your 5 star review helps reverse those!”

Here is the well-thought out response of a quality author with an excellent command of grammar.

Do your promotional scumbag I am an atheist to tell bother me with your religious crap
Martin Kimeldorf
Resist

I figure, being thoughtful and kind is always the best way to meet insanity. I’ve italicized the actual remarks about atheism I’m referring to in the above.

I’ve got no problem with your atheism,  sir. And calling a scumbag is pretty bad form… the same kind of trolling ive been trying to avoid: people judging me and my writing because of my beliefs rather than who I am or my actual writing.

Can I venture a guess that your reactionary insult is because YOU have been judged or put down because of your beliefs (or nonbelief)? If thats the case, can I say I’m sorry on behalf of real Christians? Some of us do things wrong and are unworthy of the title. Levying hate and vitriol should be the opposite of what either side of the faith line is pushing.

I think if you reread my message you’ll find that i did not insult atheists or atheism, I merely identified them (which is how they identified themselves through review or personal messages). Being a Christian doesn’t mean i become a “keyboard warrior” and cut other viewpoints down with negative reviews and neither should it have any part of atheism, both sides of the issue should be civil and be intellectual and theological positions rather than a radicalized movement to drown out opposing viewpoints, which is what “trolling” (or leaving negative reviews on unread titles) is.

Please, let’s keep it civil.

Guess what. He didn’t like the idea of civil conversation. Somehow Donald J Trump is responsible for me not giving him a book review and putting him on my mailing list (per his submission requirements?)

One simple word did you vote for Trump?
Therein lies the meat of this email… also you passed your spam you started this…and yes I see your letter as an attack on atheism
You can’t make this stuff up. I wanted to tell him I am a Libertarian and that whom I voted for–if I exercised that right–had no connection to the conversation. I wanted to open his brain and show him how his emails are the 100101101 equivalent of the hypocritical riots happening down on the UC Berkley Campus where they fight for free speech by setting fire to the campus in order to prevent someone they don’t like from speaking. That and so much more. Instead, I stuck to facts… I’ve been casting too many pearls before swine lately, anyhow.
Everything you just said drips with logical fallacy and the presumption that all Christians are the same. I am choosing not to entertain your blind rage and judgements.
also, I just want to be clear that you opted into my email list when you asked me for a book review a while back. I’m going to assume you want off that list and unsubscribe you.
He did go on to continue emailing me with more insults (somehow I’m a religious bigot and am dishonest because I use my review service to grow an email list.) You can’t argue with stupid and so I blocked him. If you want to check him out, maybe Mr. Martin Kimeldorf has something to say in his books… but I’m no longer listening–and I can’t can’t assume anyone subject to whims of blind rage and wild accusation will have content I find at ease reading.

Review: Tower of Never There (Ultimate Ending series)

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I forgot how much I loved CYOA (Choose Your Own Adventure) books. I used to read them all the time as a kid and even got my kids hooked on them when they were younger. They seem to come and go in spurts of popularity—at least it seems so. They’re probably always out and we readers just seem to rediscover them every so many years. In an age before portable video games I used to stock up on CYOA books from the library before road trips and read until I went cross eyed.

Because these kinds of titles have a bit of nostalgia for me I was pretty thrilled when the authors of the Ultimate Ending CYOA series contacted me to do a review via my blog—I’ve always, in fact, thought it would be fun to write the kinds of books these guys are doing. Their series is perhaps a little more immersive than CYOA of old… there are a few puzzle solving mechanics at a few points in the books and so it has a special appeal for a modern audience which is used to a more interactive environment for their entertainment.

Danny McAleese and David Kristoph sent me four of their titles in exchange for reviews and I’m starting with The Tower of Never There. I spent a chunk of time reading and resisted the urge to leave a finger at different critical crossroads in order to backtrack. Nostalgia hit me pretty hard and I was chuckling out loud—partly from nervousness about my fate. The first time through I wanted to be as reckless as possible and always choose the worst options. It didn’t take long before I fell to my death, laughing the whole time. The second time I played it safe and made it home okay, though I didn’t learn much about the mystery. I went through again and almost made it to the top of the tower before getting gassed to death by my guide.

I went through a few times and haven’t yet made it to the Ultimate Ending—we’ll see if I ever make it. One thing I found really cool was the ability to go to their website and enter secret codes when/if you get the UE in order to unlock secret extras, trophies, and titles. Super cool idea.

There was certainly some interesting storytelling and things going on behind the scenes that someone who completes the entire story could unravel over time. Writing was good and it was certainly appropriate for a MG+ (middle grade) audience. I think readers of all ages would get a kick out of it and I certainly recommend it!

Click to check out The Tower of Never There or click here to go their main site.

Also, sorry for the mix-up. I usually post reviews on Tuesdays and writing advice on Wednesdays… something must’ve got mixed up when I scheduled my posts to go live. Oops.

The 12 People You Will Meet if Selling Books at Comicon

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As a writer, I try to do a lot of sales at comic conventions (I write mainly SF/F/H genres). After you’ve been to a few you begin to see certain trends in the sorts of people you will meet as you try to pitch your books. Here are twelve of them.

  1. The Grandparent – This person looks like they have no idea how/why they are here. They are just being supportive for someone they love and when they see you they light up. “Oh! Books! Yes, I’d like something normal, please.” Will they buy a book? Could go either way.
  2. The Overly Serious Cosplayer – You’d danged well better know who they’re dressed as if you choose to engage him/her in conversation. You can always tell regular cosplayers from the Overly-Serious variety by that glazed look in their eye… they’re not sure if they’re at a convention in real life or if the plot of the hero they love has need of something at this strange gathering. This is why method actors shouldn’t do drugs—this is basically the end result. They are superior to you in every way and can’t believe you don’t love X as much as they love X. In fact, why are you even here? Will they buy a book? No. It’s not going to fit with their super-authentic costume (even though they don’t see a problem with the Adidas backpack slung over one shoulder.)
    Pro tip. Do not talk to a Deadpool cosplayer. Ever. Trust me. (You’re also taking heavy chances with anyone dressed as Jared Leto’s Joker).
  3. Your New Fangirl/Fanboy – you don’t know if they’ve somehow heard of you before or if something in your pitch connected with them, but they are really into what you’re selling. “Are you married? I mean, I see your wedding ring, but is it serious? …ok, but would you consider adopting me?” You’ll probably see this person a lot throughout the day/weekend. They may or may not stick it out and start your new fanclub on Facebook Groups after the event is over, but until then they are basically Madmartigan dosed by pixie love dust and you are his/her “sun and moon and starlight sky—without your book I dwell in darkness! I love you.”
    “Excuse me. Wut?”
    “I meant I love ramen… um. I’ve got to go. See you in two minutes. I’ll miss you.”
    Will they buy a book? If they have any actual money they probably will. If you accept payment in hugs, then definitely.
  4. Other Vendors – don’t assume that they will buy it. They are probably talking to you in order to network or invite you to the kind of top-secret after-hours parties I never get invited to. Lucky you. Only pitch them if they ask about your books…it’s just a courtesy, and you may see them again at a different event and don’t want to seem like a pushy person. Chances are, if they are located nearby they have already heard your pitch and want to know you rather than your book. Will they buy a book? Maybe—but they may be more willing to barter for it with items from their table. “I’ll gladly trade you one signed novel for that Sword of William Wallace autographed by Stan Lee.”
  5. Really Bad Genderbender – I’m not sure I’m comfortable with Sexy-Overweight-HarleyQuinn-with-a-5’oclock-shadow. He/she isn’t always comfortable with it either and might refuse to make eye contact with people. If he/she does make eye contact, prepare for a long, cold stare of death as they rush up to tell you “cosplay is not consent, you pervert!” or “stop judging me you arrogant cis-male!” You didn’t have to say a word… somehow they just knew with a sense about as reliable as a frat-boy’s gay-dar. Will they buy a book? Not even after you listen to their unsolicited political rant about gender equalities.
  6. Blind Bartimaeus – This person knows the deal and refuses to make eye contact with anyone at booths as if they were a circus carnie. They know the deal: they have money and you want it. Often discriminating, they are usually at a con’s merch area for specific things… if you saw them buy something at a different table, it might indicate their interests and open a door—if you can get them to look at you. Will they buy a book? Very unlikely. I settle for just getting their attention and an opportunity to pitch it.
  7. Ernie the Klepto – while you are pitching your novel and convincing him to buy he says, “It sounds really interesting,” and then walks off with it. If you manage to stop him he’ll respond with, “Oh, I thought you were giving these away for free.” Will they buy a book? Probably not…turns out it wasn’t that interesting.
  8. Empty Promise Girl – she’s able to convince you of her love as easily as a boy at the Junior prom post-party. It’s just as real too… and just like Brock, the all-state running-back, you’ll never see her again after she leaves. “This book sounds amazing! I’m definitely coming back to buy this… I’ve just got a thing, first.” Will they buy a book? No. You may spot her later walking on the far side of the aisle, trying not to look at you. She knows what she did. (And by this point you’d probably give her a book just to relive that hope that it would get read.)
  9. The Reporter – They may be writing for a blog, a paper, or (most likely) their diary but they want to know every detail of why you are here, how much you make, where you live, your booth cost, where you ate lunch, if they can get a photo—preferably with no hat and looking forward, like at the DMV, say for a fake ID. “Identity Theft? Hahaha, wut? Noooooooo… I’ve got to go k bye.” Will they buy a book? Maybe, but you’ve got to connect it to something they already like.
  10. The Perv – Often found wearing “Free Hugs” shirts and smelling like BO (perhaps thinly veiled under a sweaty sheen of too-much Axe body-spray.) They will stare at your boobs/biceps or butt/junk during your book pitch and probably won’t listen. These are not limited to just gross boys—there are plenty of women, too. Pro tip: use your table to keep a barrier to prevent unwanted conduct. “I know they’re free… but I have a medical condition.” Some of these folks need to know that “Cosplay is not consent.” Will they buy a book? If they are a greasy and gross boy—no. If it’s a “bad grandma” type she might just be happy to have had a conversation and buy it anyway.
    Sidenote: if it’s an anime-heavy convention, No is always the correct answer to anything involving “tentacle monsters.” Trust me.
  11. The Collector – he or she is usually here for one of two things: to meet industry celebrities to acquire an autograph or photo or to get free stuff from those tables that lure people over with salt water taffy or free pencils. Will they buy a book? Maybe—although they will be confused at the concept of purchasing at first, so be gentle… they are usually easier to sell to if you can convince them that you will be the next big author. “I met AUTHOR X at comicon back when they were a nobody!”
  12. The Actual Customer – These are difficult to find. They might look like a normal in a sea of weird that can often be a con… they might also look exactly like numbers 1-11, so you’ve just got to pitch everyone: cast a broad net and hope for the best.
    You, to Really Bad Genderbender: “Hey! I, uh, really like your Sailor Moon with a beard thing.”
    Him/her: “Oh thank God for an adult to talk to—I’m here doing this for my daughter who’s a huge Sailor Jupiter fan…did you write these? They look interesting.”

Hopefully you get the point: pitch everyone, and you should do it well. Just have some humor about it. I don’t think that it’s just because I’m a sci-fi/fantasy author that I enjoy selling at comicons. The people are fun and there’s never a dull moment, or a more immersive place to engage with genre fiction fans. Just make sure you attend prepared and have taken every opportunity to be your best before you spend money on booth fees. I highly recommend you read my more article with some more serious and practical advice. 10 Important Things When Pitching Books at Conventions, Festivals, Trade Shows, etc.

Did I miss anybody? What funny stereotypes have you always seen at conventions?