Con-Jikan really snuck up on me this year. I am grateful that I was able to get a media pass as late as I applied. As someone who works with PR professionals on a daily basis, I admit I felt bad hitting that close to a press deadline. But the team behind Con-Jikan is the most collaborative convention staff I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with. As I have said in previous blogs, this anime convention was a passion project by a bunch of college students at the time of its inception. They described it best this weekend as a ‘grassroots’ convention. This group has come together every year from wherever they landed after graduation—many of them still in New Mexico, but some as far as Texas—to put on what is certainly one of the best conventions in the state.

This year, the convention had moved from its longtime home at The Ramada to the Embassy Suites. This convention hall had allot more room for this growing convention which was a positive move for panel and dealer hall expansion. The one downside to this location, however, is there were no restaurants or other eateries anywhere around the hotel and those offered by the hotel itself were not open during convention hours. So, attendees who wanted to eat during the long hours of the convention would have to leave by car to find food.

I was very excited when I looked over the ‘Programming Grid’ (a flashy synonym for schedule of which I am a huge fan) to see some mixed media panels. I love the classic cosplay topics, of course. I certainly would not still be writing these blogs or contributing to this time consuming hobby if I was not passionate about it, but seeing this diversity made me excited for the longevity of this beloved convention. There are only so many Cosplay 101 panels that a cosplayer can attend before the are able to teach the course. It is certainly important to keep those crash courses in rotation for the future of the art of cosplay itself as noobs discover this high art form and need inducting into its secrets, but having the same types of panels every year will hurt a convention in the long run. For those die hard local cosplayers like myself who attend EVERY in-state convention EVERY year it can become routine which is the last thing nerdy fandom should ever be. So, hats off to you Con-Jikan team for keepin’ it fresh!

Day 1

Media Glitch: YouTube Channel Tips

I am slightly disappointed in the organization and lack of communication about the panel room for this panel. For unknown reasons their panel did not happen at the scheduled time and, instead, occurred later in the same room as I was waiting for my second panel. This was later crossed off in marker on the panel room door’s schedule, which pushed back all the panels in this room that day. The mix up aside, I did manage to catch this panel and found it very insightful.

Media Glitch was not a YouTube Channel I was familiar with, but the talent in a variety of nerdy expertise certainly knew their stuff. The panel ended up centering around the updated YouTube rules around content geared towards children. YouTube lost a lawsuit under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and was under scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission to comply with the recent law. It was interesting and helped me prepare for the oncoming rule change which may affect any video that children could find entertaining enough to watch, this could potentially include animation of any kind. Watch the video below to learn more about the law and see some of the panel:

Learning from these YouTube stars was certainly informative, but my one qualm about their presentation is that I would have loved the men on the panel to take a step back to let their female colleague speak more. She seemed just as much an expert on the subject with her own channel, WarGamerGirl, and looked like she had a lot more advice to offer the attendees.

Self-Publishing Q&A with Melanie Rodriguez

I am more a marketing nerd with every year in the field so anything with that keyword in the title will earn my attendance, but as you also know if you follow the blog I have been attending more author and publisher panels lately in preparation for publishing my novella. Is there anything cooler than a cosplaying author? I think not and there is certainly no one quite as articulately nerdy as Melanie Rodriguez. This self-published author had me running to the back of the room to grab a note pad and pen with her introduction. I have attended may fair share of writing panels—mostly at ClexaCon this past year where they actually have many indie publishing houses as guests, panelists and vendors—but none have been able to summate the craft quite like this one. Everyone in the room may have come from different levels of understanding how to navigate the many pitfalls of the publishing world, but Melanie’s friendly and down to earth presentation made the concepts accessible for everyone. This was was made only more intimate in her first panel when the projector was unable to show her slideshow. Fortunately, she had her notebook with points she wanted to talk about, but rarely referred to it as she spoke mostly from experience.

Melanie publishes her books through Amazon Create Space and has a Kindle version which she prefers to other electronic options. She says the submission process is relatively easy with a form where you can upload cover images or work with their designers for cover options. She has enjoyed the one on one communication with all the vendors she has interacted with at Amazon Create Space. She highly suggests a well edited manuscript. Most of her novels average 120,000 words. It only took her about one to two weeks for Amazon Create Space to approve her novel for publishing. For her first novel she spent about $3,200 and, after four rounds of editing, two rounds of graphic design and receiving two proof, she was a self-published author. She cautions that any more than two rounds of proofs does drive up the cost.

If you want to go another indie publishing route, her advice is to research independent publishing within the genre that you write in. These publishing houses usually accept a blurb or detailed summary of your proposed manuscript as a first step.

Pro tip: Melanie encourages bartering to receive author copies, which are a small round of your printed work that is negotiated into your contract. Matte covers are less expensive than glossy and tend to have a more refined look in the end.

Now, you’ve got your novel approved by Amazon, what next? Well, then the fun part begins. You receive a box in the mail if you went that route and you have to market your book. If you want to sell the book locally and have connected with a bookstore, she suggests a first run of 10 books to start out with.

Melanie’s novels are also formatted for Kindle, which she says is the most widely used electronic reading mechanism for promoting her books, is free if you can format it yourself. If not, you will need to pay a contractor to format it for you.

Pro tip: Melanie suggests investing in kindles for your author tabling to help better sell your book to potential buyers.

As for the marketing of your publication, which she got into a little bit, but had an entire panel about the second day, is dependent upon reviews. Book reviews are how authors sell their books and the placement of your book in Amazon’s algorithms are dependent upon the number of reviews a book has. Her golden ratios for these promotions are twenty-five email suggestions, fifty web page suggestions and to use as many hashtags as relate to your work for better SEO.

Day 2

Marketing Yourself with Melanie Rodriguez

Melanie practices what she calls multi-marketing of her book. Since she self-published, she is her own marketing agency for selling her written wares. To market her book to specific groups, Melanie has found that Facebook Groups are better than Good Reads. In FB Groups you can have release parties where, for a set amount of time, you host an online event. Your content is pushed up in the feed of the group while the event is going on which gets it seen more through Facebooks algorithm.

Pro. Tip: Melanie encourages authors to create a tagline for their persona, i.e ‘Cosplaying Author.’

Of the many social media platforms out there to promote your book, Melanie has found most of her success on Instagram. This makes sense as the platform is the highest performing one for most cosplayers. Authors tend to group towards Twitter, but by mixing up her audience with her author persona, Melanie has secured Instagram success. She likes to play around with angles and lighting taking photos of her paperback books. By using angles that are not often viewed on Instagram she creates thumb-stopping content that has grown her readership significantly. She also uses phone applications to enhance or improve her photos. Her two favorite are Instasize and Layout.

Another successful social media venture Melanie has experienced was her participation in #WriterWednesday. On Wednesdays when she is strapped for content Melanie answers questions as an author. She posts a call out to her readers using the hashtag for them to comment or send in questions on a specific subject to boost engagement.

I was unaware, but found it interesting from this panel that New Mexico’s most famed author, George R.R. Martin, does not participate as much in social media or blogging as he does Livejournal.