Traveling Self-Publishing Geek Novelist Blues: the Defcon Variations

Informative story of an entrepreneurial self-published author. We all dream that the publishers will do this work for us, but they won’t. So, budding novelists recovering from NaNoWriMo, take a break from sharpening up those HTML and blogging skills, and learn from John Sundman:

So this is how it goes. I travel to the conference, whatever
conference we’re talking about, in the cheapest way possible. I try to
arrange a couch to crash on, whether at a friend’s house or with a
friend of a friend. (For a long time I had a stash of my books in San
Francisco, so if the event was anywhere near there I wouldn’t have to
worry about bringing books from Massachusetts.)

Table: I arrange to get a table in the vendor area. I
hardly ever pay full price for the table; most often I get it for free
by sweet-talking my way into a Starving Artist discount; sometimes a
friend does me a favor.  (There was no chance of getting a discount at
Defcon; I didn’t even ask. In the first place, Defcon’s table prices are
cheap. And in the second place, all the Defcon vendors are starving artists.)

Signage: In the past I’ve sometimes made cheesy
hand-lettered signs on posterboard to describe my books; recently I’ve
gotten a little bit classier and had some small displays made. (You can
see pictures in Pola’s blog.)

Propaganda & supplies: I always bring a bunch of
photocopies of favorable reviews of my books from geeky websites and of
newspaper articles about me & my mad self-publishing career. (For
Defcon I brought about fifty copies each of my favorite dozen articles.)
And I bring a ton of my glossy two-sided biz cards, and a dozen pens
with fat tips, suitable for signing books in a bold hand.

Set up: When the venue opens for vendors to set up, I
lug in my supplies–mainly the heavy boxes of books. I unpack my little
poster-board signs & I tape them to the table, using little
cardboard corner-protectors for braces. I put out piles of my books
along with piles of the reviews. All around me other vendors are going
through similar rituals. –Wet Machine Blog: My Thoughts Exactly