ArmadilloCon 34

Fun weekend attending Austin’s ArmadilloCon. I waded deep into the Science-Fiction waters and came home with plenty of books, cards, bookmarks, posters and notes. It was also kind of a test run for future conventions, as my medium-term plan includes renting a table at some of these events to sell my Connor Rix titles and future SF/Fantasy offerings.

Naturally, books were my main focus and I spent a lot of time sitting in on author-oriented panels, and talking with authors selling their wares. And yes, my to-read stack just grew a few inches. I purchased a copy of Revenge from the very friendly Gabrielle Faust, and also bought an Advanced Reading Copy of a Robert Silverberg collaboration. Met John Rountree, another Austin writer, and I look forward to reading some of his short stories.

The panel discussions I selected were more fan-oriented on Saturday, and more business-oriented Sunday. One excellent panel was Book Covers: Today and Tomorrow, moderated by John Picacio, a 2012 Hugo award finalist. Authors are struggling to adapt to the changes in the publishing world, but so are illustrators and designers. If the primary display for most books is an online thumbnail-size image, where does that leave graphic artists? It’s like the whole album cover/CD case/MP3 progression all over again. Which would be a great shame if it turned out that way, especially after viewing Julie Dillon’s beautiful artwork. If I thought for a moment I could afford to commission her for a book cover, I would in an instant. I’ll build up to that.

Also interesting was the cool reception toward book trailers. I’ve seen some good ones, but several panelists made the point that: A) they usually cost too much for a low-margin item like a book, B) Watching a video and reading a book are two different experiences that don’t mix well, C) People like to imagine what the characters look like, and you can spoil that by portraying them in video. Good points. Any thoughts out there on the effectiveness of book trailers?

Another good panel was one on attracting and building your audience, moderated by Chloe Neill. Lots of good tips, and another reminder that I need to get those Connor Rix bookmarks on order. Could have distributed a bunch of them this weekend.

A highlight for me came when I wandered into a panel discussion on Alternate Histories.  One of the authors, Howard Waldrop, casually mentioned one of his old books, The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 from 1974. I almost fell out of my chair. I bought that when it was new off the spinning metal paperback rack at the local convenience store when I was in Jr. High. I can still see the cover in my mind’s eye. My friends and I loved it. I can’t believe I ever got rid of my copy. I had long since forgotten who wrote it, but now I have to catch up on all those Waldrop stories I missed over the years. First up: I MUST find a copy of Night of the Cooters.

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