Thoughts on the MileHiCon

Star Trek or Star Wars? And what is this “Firefly” show everyone keeps invoking?

I attended this annual sci-fi convention on Sunday. I took my place at my assigned co-op table, unpacked my books, cards, and placards, and tried to strike up conversations with the other aspiring authors. I would have to say that my genre was a bit out of place, here. Perhaps gun shows present a more amenable audience for my books. I expected to find more of a libertarian crowd but instead found what I find everywhere else: people rooted in a belief of the possibility of benevolent, rational, authoritarian government. “If only we could just get the right dictators in charge.” Maybe I’m being too judgmental. I get like that. Technically, I didn’t get a chance to apply my ideological profiling test:

“Which do you prefer? Star Wars or Star Trek?”

If the answer is “Star Wars”, then they root for the rebels and must therefore be anarchist libertarians.

If they answer “Star Trek”, then they root for the empire (aka “The Federation”) and are thus utopian, socialist authoritarians (<sarcasm).

See how simple that is?

A good chunk of my allotted time was gobbled up in cross-banter with a self-proclaimed hippy wearing a Tom Brady jersey. The discussion ranged from why his dismissal of the Battlestar Galactica reboot is irrational to the implications of a variable speed of light. Heavy stuff. He brought his friend over from the bar and he insisted on shaking my had at least 10 times. Also, whenever I asked someone to describe their writing, they all said: "It's like Firefly meets (this or that)." I felt like a dork not knowing anything about this Firefly. A dork amongst dorks, now that's really pathetic.

But it wasn't all frivolity. I met some authors who poured out their experience and knowledge. Some included:

Kal Spriggs: Sci-Fi and Fantasy author and former marine who liked Heinlein. Check out his blog.

Ian Thomas Healy: A very prolific author with tons of fans that reminds me a bit of L. Neil Smith. Website.

Paul Lell: A very chatty fantasy author and game designer. Check out his site.

Dane G. Kroll: A fantasy author with a great book cover designer. His facebook page.

I can’t recall who said what but the advice seemed to come back to building a following by word of mouth, giving books away or offering special pricing to build that following, and attending conventions to get a bump in sales. Mostly the same old shit I’ve been trying. Kal suggested Bookbub but it’s pricey.

One fellow had a terrific idea. He writes 40 minute screenplays and converts them into podcasts complete with full sound effects. It’s more than just an audio book. It’s almost like the old serial radio shows, but leveraging the internet, of course.He gives them away for free but only once per week…or, you can pay up front and get the whole season at once. Great pricing model! His website is frontierthepodcast.com. The idea is terrific, but he set up at the co-op table with no materials, no placards, no sound system, and no brochures explaining what it is he’s promoting. He just sat down with his tablet and headphones. Hopefully he will get more creative or get some help with his marketing because I think he has a great idea.

All in all, it was fun. These are intelligent, creative, thoughtful people and I regard them as kindred spirits.

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