My air conditioner went out for about 15 minutes during my drive home from Armadillocon in Austin, TX. I had been driving for about an hour; the weather was every hot and sticky analogy you can come up with, and there was traffic at 2:30pm on a Sunday. Cursing didn’t help. Since the air conditioner was blowing out hot steam, I turned it off, rolled down the windows, and sweat off several pounds. On a whim and a prayer, I turned the air back on. It was freezing cold and stayed that way. The drive home was long but not uncomfortable, and I listened to an entire audiobook which was fun. I finally arrived at 1:30am Monday morning. This pretty much sums up Armadillocon.
Before attending a convention, I try to research so I can prepare and know what to expect. Most indie authors are wary to divulge con sales, only sharing “I sold a lot” or “I didn’t do well” because who really knows how to measure sales at a con? The first con I took part in I sold 15 books and another writer posted later he sold none. In comparison, I guess I did well, but were sales great? The only feedback I could get about Armadillocon was from another author who said it was pretentious. I smiled and nodded politely because that really didn’t tell me how many books to bring. I should have listened closer.
Armadillocon is a literary convention where writers gather to discuss their craft. Established authors talk on subjects like ‘Overhauling a Character’, ‘Perfecting Your Locations’, and ‘Literary Archives’. If you are learning to write, seeking advice, looking for input, or want to know the steps other writers go through to produce a finished work–this is the con you should attend. This is a networking convention. If you feel you can advance your writing career by meeting published authors, and maybe even a publisher, go to Armadillocon.
This isn’t why I typically go to conventions. My goal is to find my audience, connect with them on a personal level, and have fun with friends while doing it. I’ve gone to enough conventions that I can take a relatively accurate guess at attendance based on the number of books sold. Based on my equation, I’m pretty sure nobody attended this con, which is a first for me.
I did have some fun this weekend with my dear friends Cristi and Brandon. We enjoyed some incredible people watching on 6th street. I also traded books with our neighbor Christy King and look forward to reading her novel Talia. My heart goes out to the writer who was visiting from Germany and had purchased a table with the same goal and results as the rest of us.
My request to Armadillocon, don’t have a dealer room–or at the very least don’t sell tables to authors. 3 authors I spoke with said they would probably never get a table at another Science Fiction and Fantasy convention. I think I talked them out of that.
My advice to new writers who are learning and getting established: if you are in the area, definitely attend Armadillocon. There are a lot of learned hosts with expert knowledge and strong opinions, they have plenty to share. When the con is over, go home, put away any notes you took, and write the story you want to write in the way that works for you–because that’s truly where your best work will come from.