Morgon and I spent last weekend at LibertyCon 32 in Chattanooga, Tennesse. LibertyCon is an interesting convention. It’s quite different from any other con I’ve personally ever been to. The founder wanted to keep the small, personal, intimate con feel, so it’s limited by its charter to no more than 750 attendees. This year, it sold out in about four hours.
According to oral history given by John Ringo over the weekend (more details in a bit), the con started out very small, but in its early days it was primarily a bunch of writers and people trying to break into the business hanging out together. Over time, most of those newer people ended up getting published, and the con grew. By Ringo’s count, the con today seems to be about 1/3 published authors, about 1/3 authors who will be published, and about 1/3 readers.
Based on my experiences at the con, that seems about right.
If you’re looking to actually meet your favorite author, and not just sit in a huge panel with 300 other people listening to him, LibertyCon is the place to do it. If you’re a new author looking to make connections in the industry, LibertyCon’s the place for that, too. On the other hand, if you’re an author looking to connect with huge numbers of fans and sell lots of books, it’s not really the place. You’ll sell, for sure – we ran into one fan who’d bought over 50 books at the con – but not like you will at a more reader-focused con.
We go mostly for the networking. As the operators of a small publishing house, we do quite a lot of that there.
I moderated two panels this year. The first was a panel on newsletter marketing aimed at authors. We had solid attendance and rapt attention from the authors. I think it went very well, although we ran out of time. It’s a huge topic, and we only had an hour. But, there you go.
I also moderated the “What’s New at Silver Empire” panel (embedded video below). The short answer: a lot!
I also sat on a panel for first time LibertyCon panelists moderated by the John Ringo. I’ve seen Ringo in panels before, and I won’t lie. The man can be a bit intimidating. But he was extremely gracious to the very large number of authors on the panel, and very courteous. I’d also like to give him a tip of the hat for the way he handled the very small number of authors who kept rambling on, not thinking about the other authors on the panel. He was very firm at moving things along, but also gentle about it and somehow managed to not be rude. Very impressive. This is also the panel where he gave his brief oral history of LibertyCon.
Beyond the panels, we sold some books and did some signings. But most of all we caught up with several Silver Empire authors.
Dan Humphreys just finished Come, Seeling Night. He’s currently at work on an anthology of stories set in his Z-Day universe. We don’t publish the existing books in that trilogy, but we will be publishing that anthology. I highly recommend checking that series out. Dan scored a Dragon Award nomination for the first book, and it’s legit. I don’t even like zombie books, but I loved that one (see my review here).
Jon Del Arroz has just finished his Saga of the Nano Templar series, which we’ll be launching later this summer. Wait until you see the covers for those – they’re phenomenally good. This space opera / milSF series is really going to be something.
Declan Finn’s Saint Tommy, NYPD series is almost wrapped up. We’ve got one more book to get out. Kickstarter backers: expect to get the rest of the print books to you in one fell swoop after book 6 is done, so stay tuned. In bigger news: audiobooks for that series are coming! You’ve been asking, we listened. If you want in on that series, now’s a great time. We’ve dropped the price on book 1, Hell Spawn, to $0.99.
We’ve already got drafts on the first three books of Declan’s epic space opera, and we’ll be looking to launch those next after Saint Tommy wraps up.
Other than that, we had a great time hanging out with our friends. This is the only weekend of the year right now that we see many of these guys, and it’s great to catch up.
Until next year![Cross posted to the Silver Empire blog.]