My Experience at Hampton Comicon

This past Saturday, I attended my first ever comic book convention: Hampton Comicon in Hampton, Va. I had a table, roughly 20 copies of all three img_20161015_083848of my novels, and a slew of business cards, flyers, and bookmarks — both for my work and the work of some other self-published authors I enjoyed. From 9 a.m. until roughly 6 p.m., I sold far more books than I expected. I sold out of my allotment of Bounty (the first book), and I damn near sold out of Behind the Badge (the third book), too.

In all, I more than tripled what I paid for the table space.

But as great as the short-term gain was, what excites me most is the long-term potential. Just about everyone who stopped by my table, whether they bought a book or not, took a business card and a flyer (which had my website, email address, Amazon link, and Facebook and Twitter pages on them). A lot of them perked up when they found out my books were also on Kindle, and just about all of them loved the premise of the series.

So it’ll be interesting to see what my online sales, website hits, and social media follows look like in the coming days and weeks. But perhaps more importantly, I also made connections — meeting several other writers, discovering potential new works to check out, and maybe an artist with whom to work if I decide to dip my toe back into the comic book world.

One man20161015_083959 approached my table saying he was looking for novels he could pitch to movie studios. He took a business card. Another man later approached about potential TV series ideas. He also left my table with a business card. Will those go anywhere? I have no idea (I’m accounting for the possibility that they were both blowing smoke up my ass), but just having the conversation was cool enough.

These were conversations I wouldn’t have had staying home, and they’re conversations I normally don’t get to have through social media or on a platform like Goodreads.

So all in all, I had fun — and clearly I’ve got a potential audience in the comic book and genre fiction crowd (which I kinda already knew). I have a library event later this month, and in May I’ll be at Tidewater Comicon (Virginia Beach, Va.). I can’t wait for both of those, and I love that I’ve sold so many books in-person that I now have to order another box or two of author copies.

It’s an added expense, but it pays for itself in the long run.

So anyone who has events like this in their area and never considered them before… maybe give them a chance. I grant my experience likely isn’t typical, but it was eye-opening the way people seemed excited about my stuff — and just how much interacting with someone in-person truly matters.

Original Fic Killed My Fanfic Muse

I know fan fiction can sometimes be a hot-button topic among writers, but I’m firmly on the pro-fanfic side of the debate. I love fanfic for a variety of reasons; I read my share of fanfic.

Hell, up until several months ago, I wrote fanfic.Beckett gun

Nothing special, really. I mean, there was a way-out-there Castle/Buffy the Vampire Slayer fic that I was having a ball writing — because somehow, the idea of Detective Kate Beckett as a Slayer had far more legs than I thought it would — but again, nothing special.

If you’re curious, check out my fanfics here. Fair warning: there’s a lot of incomplete stuff there.

If nothing else, fanfic was great practice. It allowed me to continue plying my writing craft — sharpening my sentence structure, my plot pacing, all sorts of technical stuff, while telling stories about characters I loved. There was no pressure to fanfic; it was just writing well-known characters for an audience who loved them as much as I did.

No sales charts. No release dates. No promotional headaches. Just writing.

But the deeper I got into my novel writing — not just the three Jill Andersen novels, but all the other works — I noticed that my fanfic muse was nowhere near as active as it once had been. Maybe it was a case of being overworked, but the longer this whole novel-writing thing went, the more my fanfic faded into the background until the muse just… disappeared.

I keep telling myself that one day, I’ll go back to my fics and finish them. But then I have to be honest with myself and realize that’s probably never going to happen. Not because I don’t love fanfic — I do, and I would probably faint from happiness if I ever discovered fanfic based on my characters — but because I’ve committed myself so fully to novel-writing that I don’t know if fanfic still has a seat at the table.

I just don’t understand authors who are anti-fanfic. I mean, that’s their right. Their properties are important to them, and if they don’t want fanfic based on those properties, then they’re within their rights to say so. I just don’t understand the animosity; it’s not like the vast majority of fanfic writers are looking to make money off of it. Legally, they can’t.

I mean, unless they change names and other identifiers and try selling their fanfic and something original (which is, I believe, how 50 Shades of Grey came to be).

I consider fanfic (and fanart) a form of flattery; someone enjoyed these characters, this universe, enough to create something based on it. AU fics, insertion fics… hell, even fix-it fics… fanfic is a labor of love, and if anyone ever created fanfic or fanart based on my work, it would probably warm my heart more than the world’s greatest sales chart.

Though I’m greedy; I want both.

So consider me pro-fanfic. Vehemently so. I just… can’t seem to write it anymore.