I got back from this year's ICON 48 in Cedar Rapids, and it was definitely an experience but not that much of an adventure this year. A lot of it was the result of the previous weekend, when we went up to the cabin, a lack of child watching (usually the children's grandmother watches them but she was exhausted), and Partner getting “peopled out.”
In the end, I tried to do too much and didn't really excel at most of them.
Like most years, I had a table in the dealer call for Typewriter Press. This year, I had eighteen books available, fifteen were on display (the others were a selection of erotic sci-fi/fantasy I've read during previous Late Night Erotic Reading sessions).
Sales were not good: I sold a single $5 book.
It was a nice table and I was happy with the result, there were just a few things that went wrong. For starters, ICON is still a relatively small circle of people (only a couple hundred), so most of them have seen most of my books already. The new ones, Flight of the Scions didn't draw folks in, nor did Shannon's Merger of Evil.
It was also one of ICON's low attendance years. I'm guessing less than a hundred people, which makes it hard to sell since those who do come are already dedicated to the convention and… have seen everything Shannon and I have to offer.
This was also a bummer because I thought my packing and setup was pretty good, though I didn't get a proper price sheet written out so I wrote one by hand. Maybe next time.
All of my panels were on Saturday and that is where things got a little scattered. Because of a production issue, I had limited time to set up on Friday. On Saturday, I brought Child.0 with me but the consuite and gaming rooms didn't open until 10:00 (usually they are open all night). Not to mention, this was Child.0's first “full” convention so I walked them through the various places and tried to get them situated.
This meant I completely forgot about my first panel and blew it off. Which is a major bummer because being late sets off my anxiety (third major trigger) and I don't like fulfilling my obligations. Not to mention, I really wanted to talk about Writing Space Epics because it is a topic I enjoy (though most of my readers know me for Fedran, not sci-fi writing).
The second panel was an author reading.
No one showed up.
Well, the other author did, but no one else. I spent an hour talking to Bob J. Koester about his audio books and podcasts, random topics, and basically chatting until the next authors showed up and I talked to them for a while (and realized I had to buy their books) before finding Child.0.
The third panel was the one that finally was successful. Character Development for Aspiring Authors was pretty good. I didn't realize I was moderator at first (they didn't have programs available and the Google Doc for the schedule didn't have those details) but I like moderating panels and did so. It was a lot of fun to talk about different ways to approach building characters and I had fun.
The fourth and final panel was Writing Collaboratively, which also went well. I've done a lot of commissioned writing, writing one-on-one adventures for games (some of which were novel length), and a variety of that. My experiences were much different than the other panelists but I thought it was fairly balanced and there were plenty of questions.
There could have been a fifth one, Late Night Erotic Reading, but since I dropped out of Facebook, the folks setting it up thought I had disappeared off the planet. I do like to find strange submissions (there is always a Tingler being read, not to mention silly and serious pieces), so I just have a lot of fun doing it. But, because I disappeared, I wasn't invited and I had a thirteen year old so… I had to skip it. Maybe next year?
I also still want to resurrect Mickey's writing workshop. She was a mentor for me, though she probably didn't think so, and helped me a lot with my writing and craft. It was also a fantastic two hours of doing a deep dive critique of stories and it helped me a lot. I can't cover the full range of experiences she had, but I feel that I can be helpful to others get to at least my level and maybe push them above me. I've been talking about it for a few years, but I need Mindbridge to help which means I need to actually talk to them long before the next convention.
Instead of listening to snippets of porn, I ended up playing with Child.0's first Dungeons and Dragons game instead. It was a pick up game but I wanted their first attempt to not have me as a dungeon master. The fact it was a Minecraft-based adventure and the entire party was a pyromancer in some regard, it ended up being a game of “burn it all down” but there was also remarkably a large amount of peaceful options gone.
And apparently “let's walk the courtyard to get a lay of the land and make sure there are no surprised” was completely foreign to everyone. (In other words, everyone played their WIS attribute perfectly.)
It was a lot of fun and both Child.0 and Child.1 want to try it again.
Also, checking on Child.0 meant I abandoned my dealer table frequently which may have contributed to the lack of sales, but I have a pretty good priority system and Zero's care is higher than making a few bucks.
On Sunday, Child.0 decided to sleep in, so I brought Child.1 (age eight). Now, One is a lot more effort to watch than Zero, so I wasn't really able pay attention to the table either. So, we played video games, checked out things, and bought way too much.
Also, because One takes a little longer to get going (and I had the dealer's table), I missed the benefactor's brunch and a chance to fan-squeal over the guests of honor.
At the middle of Sunday, Partner came and we got a few hours of strolling around and being together. It was nice, because they also helped tear down the table and get everything packed up, all for the price of five sushi trays.
This year, I had conflicts of interest: my family, the panels, and capitalism. I don't like the conflict, but I was already committed to the dealer hall and the panels, but the children took priority.
Next year, I need to remove at least one so I'm not going to do the dealer hall and just focus on the kids and panels because Zero and One are both at an age where I can leave them alone for an hour to do the panel but I can't leave them alone for six to man a table. Not to mention, it cost me $55 to make a profit of less than a dollar (after printing costs and royalties).