Whew, that was a mission! I don’t even know where to begin with this. It all began with Armageddon talking about setting up  a ‘Literary Hall’, an expo for established and emerging writers of science-fiction and fantasy, steam punk, horror, speculative fiction. You know, anything that has fandom, that you can dress up and merchandise. That’s how I was first introduced to Steff. Have I told you about Steff, or Steff Metal as she’s more commonly known. A self-professed heavy metal maiden, blogger, author and wedding celebrant. She’s also legally blind which you might think is a challenge for a writer. You clearly haven’t met Steff. All around cool chick. But more importantly she wanted to go for these stalls Armageddon was offering, at half-price as a certain trial experiment, and she wanted other people to go in on it with her. It didn’t take me long to figure this was a good thing, mostly for the fact that Steff seemed very organised and I’m…what’s the word…not. So by the end of it there was myself and Steff, Tim Stead, Pat Whitaker and Paul Mannering going in on the stalls together. So fast forward a couple of months, some frantic posting and printing of books, flyers, bookmarks, business cards, banners and any promotional material we could think of and there we were.

Typically I was the last to arrive. Which when you think about it was quite funny. Not because I had three people’s books and promotions in my car (my landlord said it was nice I was finally moving in a year later when he saw all the boxes) but because I was on the phone trying to navigate my way through colour coded halls via directions from someone who’s colour blind. In my defence they did move us from the hall we were originally in to one of the other side of the expo, but nevertheless Steff and I eventually found each other among the crowds of people setting up (these weren’t even the punters yet and it was still manic!) and the others were glad to see me too. It could have been because I had half their swag but I like to think it was just because they were worried about me.

And then the doors opened. And there was a flood. Of zombies and japanese school girls, of Marvel superheroes, Storm Troopers, numerous doctors, trolls, orcs, witches, Halloween comes a week early to Auckland by way of Armageddon. We made our first sales. Things were looking alright. And there were lots of other cool stalls in our hall which I would get to know over the next few days. I have all their cards so I’ll do some posts on these awesome peeps later because I need topics to post about, but I particularly liked the New World Writing Order stand, since it had a fully custom built Delorean, street-legal, even. Yeah, like that’s not gonna get you pulled over. But buy a book and get behind the safety line for a photo. Not a bad deal.

I confess to taking Saturday off, just as we were juggling our staff given we only had limited tickets. Saturday is the most hectic day so this may not have been a bad thing. We were opposite Terry Brooks and the line stretched around the hall for hours when he was there. I watched him over the next two days, I have to give them man credit where credit is due, he did his time. He signed each and every book and didn’t hurry people along. He’d chat for as long as someone wanted and I didn’t see anyone abuse this either, all too aware of the other fans waiting behind them. The man has time for his readers and you have to respect that. Also I liked the American guy who brought in his Shanarra library book to get signed before he returned it. Public service?

Saturday brought a problem we hadn’t anticipated. We anticipated people might want to pay electronically, EFTPOS, credit cards, you know the drill. And we were prepared and rented one. What we didn’t think of was the sheer crowd numbers trolling and posting and facebooking, twittering, instagramming and snapchatting the expo, would overload the network capacity. Which it did. So our electronic means of payment failed. And not just ours but every stall with a wireless payment method. Sad face. Cash sales only people. Sorry about that. Fortunately most everyone seemed ahead of us and was indeed carrying cash. Good on them. Those who weren’t soon came way to that way of thinking.

Sales. Now sales were not what we really expected. We soon adjusted to a more promotional based thinking, pushing E-books and websites, free downloads and post-expo sales. And we Big-Brothered the heck out of our punters, taking names and numbers for our giveaway, collected works from all our authors. Not a bad couple of prizes if I do say so, at the very least it would cover your Christmas shopping. So once we settled into that way of thinking the expo was a lot of fun and we even had time to explore the rest of the expo and the surging crowds. For some reason we our stall was a bit of a drawcard for the other stallholders of a Steampunk lean, we had both the Aussie Steampunk jewellers from the main halls pay us a visit to take a time our from being crammed between the Wrestling and the League of Legends as they pushed the limits of noise pollution. I don’t mean that as a stab against those guys, just that it was LOUD. We were the time out hall for a  lot of other expo-ers and that worked out fine for us. Although Pat did call me out on the amount of time I spent talking to the girl in the top hat and goggles, ‘were you selling her a book or was she chatting you up?’ (His words. PS, to the Steampunk girl from Tasmania I just described, you were very cute.)

One of the best parts was meeting the other stall holders and swapping tips and stories. Don’t know if I’m ready to make the jump across the Tasman to the Aussie expos yet though, might need a few more books to sell first. Although the last day was by far our best for selling even though by then it was just me and Pat holding the fort, lesson learnt, people like to window shop first and spend money later but at this point I don’t care. I had an awesome time. Pat spent a lot of time pointing to various costumed punters and going ‘so what’s that one?’ to see if I could identify the origin of their dressup. 9/10 times I could leading to his ‘you’re a walking encyclopedia of geek facts aren’t you?’ in a good natured jibe. Well, if so I was in the right place. Hey, I get paid to watch eight hours of TV a day and then I go home and write fantasy novels. I can tell my Rainbow Brites from Bioshock and everything in between. There is so much more I could write about Armageddon, some of it bad but most of it awesome, but I’m still recovering. And I just wrote 1300 words in half an hour, what the hell? Why can’t I do that all the time, do you know how prolific an author I could be??

I think I’m actually motivated to finish the two books I’m working on now, and not just because more books just makes the stall look so much better. One of them might even be Steampunk…now if I can just resist the urge to put zombies into it…



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