I'm finally recovering from Sleuthfest, the mystery writers' conference sponsored by our local chapter of the Mystery Writers of America. I was one of the volunteer organizers, so since January I've been collecting names of people who wanted to have appointments with agents & editors, then organizing those appointments. I spent Friday and Saturday afternoon at the center of barely controlled chaos, as writers went in and out for their 10-minute appointments.
Sometimes we were ahead, and sometimes behind. It's a mystery how it all worked out, but everyone seemed happy--except for one guy. Oh, well, you can't please everyone.
Writers' conferences are great places for name recognition and networking. I think I was laying the groundwork this winter. A couple hundred other writers and I exchanged emails, and then I met most of them face to face, even if it was only for a minute or two.
I didn't sell as many books as the bookseller or I expected, but I think that's because my panels (I moderated one and spoke on one) took place on Friday morning, before I'd had the chance to meet all those writers and impress them with my charming personality. Next year, I'll ask for a Saturday panel rather than one on Friday.
But I think this is like making posts on DorothyL, or the PublishedGayAuthors list serve-- it's about hitting your potential audience with your name over and over again. And I did sell books to people who had met me, or who wanted a gift for a gay friend or relative.
Hopefully this increased name recognition will start to pay off with the next book, Paws & Reflect-- the anthology about gay men and dogs that's coming out from Alyson in September.