November 17, 2015

5 ways to promote your book at a science fiction/fantasy convention

By Graham Dickson

I was thrilled to attend my first Mile Hi Con on behalf of BlueInk Review this October. I traveled the convention floor talking with guests and taking in all that one of Denver’s oldest fan conventions has to offer. And just as I suspected when I saw the life-sized Dr. Who prop in the lobby, this was no ordinary convention!

But these events are more than just a fun place for fans and authors to interact, they are also a great place to promote your book to an interested and actionable community. Mile Hi Con is just one of many science fiction/fantasy conventions that take place across the country every year. These conventions attract hundreds, even thousands, of attendees, who wander the convention floor, open to new ideas and experiences— a prime audience for books of all kinds.

How can authors capitalize on these venues? Here are some of my insights on how to make the most of a convention like this when you’re looking to promote your book:

Host a panel: This can be a great way to build an audience and legitimacy at the convention. It will attract guests and give you recognition as an authority on the topic. Make sure to keep your panel interesting, however, or people will trickle out!

Strategize where to place your materials on giveaway tables: Most conventions feature one or more tables of free printed materials. I found that the best place to ensure people took our material — or at least looked at it — was about 6 inches from the front and side of the table, with 1 or 2 items between our material and the table’s edge. This ensures attendees see the material before their eye tires and all the materials have blended together.

Sponsor a convention suite: Some conventions have a suite in the hotel that authors and business interests can help sponsor. The sponsor provides food and drink, while networking with those who come to enjoy the refreshments. These convention suites are rarely empty, meaning that being a sponsor can be a powerful tool to build awareness and goodwill surrounding your product/business.

Be engaged: While you’re at the convention, you’ll find many fun and silly events to participate in. This year alone there was boat racing, dancing, gaming, singing, and beer tasting. Don’t be afraid to attend these events and be active. People will be more willing to approach you if you are seen as outgoing and enthusiastic. It will enhance your enjoyment and help you avoid feeling like an outsider. More importantly, these events are great opportunities to network and make new connections.

Check the schedule in advance: Remember all those fun events I just mentioned? I would never have found them if I hadn’t combed through my schedule ahead of time. The schedule lists networking events, fun games, and even events that sometimes aren’t listed online that could be perfect for your networking needs. Make sure to give the schedule a look before your next convention, which you can find by visiting!

Hope these help you make the most of your next convention, and see you there!

Graham Dickson is a student at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in marketing and minoring in German. He is an intern at BlueInk Review.

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