Saturday, July 9, 2016

Savvy Saturday: KM Tolan Talks About His Time at Comicpalooza in Houston

Hi, I’m Kerry, one of the erstwhile Sci-Fi/Fantasy authors in the June 2016 Comicpalooza convention’s Artist Alley. This is my second Comicpalooza, having heard of the convention by way of one of those “You didn’t go to Comicpalooza?” questions of astonishment while at another comic con.

The first thing to strike me this year was that the event has grown in size, which means I’m even more of a small fish in a larger pond than I was last year (grin). Not to worry. More folks wandering by my table, eh?

Friday was the typical mad rush of getting in at the last moment from Austin, Texas, courtesy of some dump truck who had come to grief on a very crowded Highway 290 just outside the loop. Houston traffic is such a pleasure. I found my spot quickly, and with the understanding help of more than one eager volunteer. Forgetting my registration papers is becoming a tradition, it seems. This year I had six novels to display and a seventh on the way, so we were loaded down with inventory and the usual props and displays. One thing we learned in our eight years of doing comic cons, is that simply tossing books on a table doesn’t cut it.

Friday’s being Fridays, I did as much chatting as selling. Not too many folks were dressed up, but then neither were the wife and I. That was for tomorrow. Instead it was more of a laid back meet and greet. I got to see our literary host Vijay Kale, who popped over, said “Hi!”, then was off in a flash. Pity too, since he was doing a great job beforehand with all the arrangements. The Literary program at Comicpalooza was far above what I’ve seen at other conventions, and this year Vijay outdid himself. I was scheduled for two panels, and looking forward to Saturday night’s get together with my fellow wizards at a local pub—all courtesy of Vijay.

Saturday arrived and it was laces and boots as the wife Vickie and I donned our steampunk finery, and joined in the cosplay while chatting up the books. This year folks seemed more interested in the paperbacks than our publisher’s e-books. I had an advert for my upcoming Sci-fi novel “Siren’s Song” and folks were really interested. Oh, and we were selling books, of course. More importantly, I was getting the much treasured exposure we small press authors crave. Business cards flew off the table. The day’s panel arrived, and I found myself among other writing professionals tackling the business of, well, business. We have a few dozen folks listening, and thankfully we didn’t have to delve into the mysteries of the Schedule C. Instead, it was all about promotion and how to do it. Things really picked up as we discussed the ways of getting yourself “out there” without being chased back again. And of course, the cosplayers were decidedly attending this Saturday, so the wife and I took turns running around checking out the more talented entries. It’s always the homemade stuff that I love to see—especially when the outfit is done up to Hollywood standards. Awesome. We closed the day with respectable sales (I do love the Square application for point-of-sale), and toddled off to meet other authors down at a delightful, if not a tad noisy, bar and grill a couple blocks away. Dodging rain showers, we made it unscathed and dry. Got to talk with several folks in the business, as well as a couple author hopefuls.

Sunday resumed with us in our laid-back gear, and enjoying more sales as folks remembered our display and came back to invest their remaining dollars. My fantasy novel “Tracks” ended up being the best seller, with “Blade Dancer” running up a close second. And then it was panel time again, with the subject being military weapons and Science Fiction. It rapidly became military Sci-fi in general, with a couple dozen eager listeners soaking in what myself and several other military-background authors advised when it comes to ye old pew-pew. And then, sigh, it was time to break down our table displays, head back to the confines of Austin, and plan for Comicpalooza 2017. Great fun was had by all. Next stop? Wizard World in Austin.

K.M. Tolan is a science fiction and fantasy author with six books published through Burst Books (Champagne Books SF/F imprint). His first two novels in the “Blade Dancer” series were both finalists in the EPIC E-book Awards for Science Fiction. “Blade Dancer” was accepted into the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives at Texas A&M. “Rogue Dancer” received his publisher’s award for best novel of the year. Mr. Tolan is a software engineer, a combat veteran, and lives near Austin, Texas.

Check out his website here.

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