Writers: Go To Conventions (a guest post by Matthew W. Quinn)

Yes it’s been a minute. Here is a guest post by my friend Matt. Listen up. He’s got good advice here. (JRT)


By Matthew W. Quinn

One lesson I’ve learned in the years I’ve been writing professionally is attending conventions is a really, really good idea. Since I live in Atlanta, I’ve been blessed to have conventions like DragonCon, AnachroCon, and JordanCon (although I’ve never been to that one) easily accessible.

Firstly, conventions are good places to do business. I didn’t even know the BattleTech science-fiction franchise even still existed, but I ran into the staff of Catalyst Game Labs — the current holder of the property — at the 2008 DragonCon. I spent the subsequent year writing a short story entitled “Skirmish at the Vale’s Edge” for the site BattleCorps based on something I read in an old Clan Wolf sourcebook and submitted it to them just before the 2009 convention. I let the staff know I’d done this and soon afterward they wrote me to tell me they’d purchased the story. It’s still up there, and it’s now the canonical account of the Battle of Jallington Vale.

At a later DragonCon (either 2011 or 2012), I met representatives of another small press and received permission to send them my secondary-world fantasy/steampunk novel Battle for the Wastelands. I submitted in March 2013 and after not hearing back for some time, queried the company’s representative at the 2013 convention. I eventually received a rejection that November — they said it had good writing, but wasn’t for them. Although this wasn’t an acceptance, it was still feedback and a contact made for future projects.

More recently, I volunteered at the 2015 World Horror Conference. There I met representatives of two small presses, one dedicated to science fiction, fantasy, and horror and the other “bizarro.” I got the go-ahead to submit my teen Lovecraftian horror novel The Thing in the Woods and a rather strange tale involving little people. I’ve already submitted the former; I’ll submit the latter once I finish it.

Secondly, one can learn a whole lot about the craft of writing from panels. I found panels at DragonCon 2013 so informative on topics like pulp writing and putting together anthologies and collections that I ended up blogging about them. At the 2011 DragonCon I attended a panel on characterization taught by none other than Michael Stackpole. Another panel, with S.M. Stirling, provided some valuable advice about short stories and the most profitable use of one’s time. DragonCon 2010 gave me enough material for multiple blog posts. AnachroCon, though much smaller, taught me some valuable information about Norse culture and the state of Lovecraftian media.

Finally, conventions are a good place to sell your wares. James and I have a mutual friend named J.H. Glaze who’s very, very good at moving his product at conventions. I’ve purchased books at the World Horror Conference and DragonCon. If you’ve got books to sell, try to get a table either by yourself or with other writers to share the load.

-Matthew W. Quinn is a freelance writer, editor, and soon to be holder of an M.A. in World History from Georgia State University. Check out his speculative fiction here and follow him on Twitter here.

I MAKES BOOK COVERS (it’s true. I do.)

I do covers. If you want one hit me up. You get print layout and ebook cover.

james AT jamesrtuck DOT com

(replace AT with @ and DOT with . and close the gaps)

On my personal books I did the artwork and took the photos….for FLASHING STEEL FLASHING FIRE I used a stock image I bought……for INTO THE WEIRD the artwork came from Karl Comendador (find him HERE)

If you want to buy any of these click the pictures and you can buy them in ebook and print!

My stuff:

hired gun 5 x 8 jpeg internet special features FLATTENED internetviewable THAT WAY LIES MADNESS FULL COVER 5X8 INTERNET VERSIONand for other people:



TA HELL WITH A MASS MARKET (my opinion as a reader on why I love Trade Paperbacks)

I have a ton of books.

I don’t know how much they actually weigh, but me and the Missus have a book buying problem. Actually, the phraseology on that is wrong. We have NO problem buying books. Ignore the fact that my TBR pile numbers near 100. Ignore also the fact that there are easily 20 current releases I have NOT purchased simply because I know when I do I will immediately read them thus pushing my TBR pile even further int he background. (Yes, I’m looking at you COLD DAYS by Jim Butcher. Fuck you, don’t make me feel guilty for not bathing in your sweet sweet cotton-candy scented literature. I’ll get to you. I will. I PROMISE. It is inevitable.)

Where was I?

Oh yeah, books.

Here is a pic of our new, grown folks books shelves and our library at the house.

ALL the books on the left two shelves are mine.

ALL the books on the left two shelves are mine.


So earlier I was thinking about books. The physical form of the book. I decided that I am totally over mass market paperbacks. I much prefer the size of a trade paperback.

Mass market paperbacks are now the cats of the publishing world in my opinion.

Now I’ll still buy a mass market, hell I bought one last night (SHARP by my good friend Alex Hughes). But if I can, I’m buying trades from now on.

Book four of the Deacon Chalk series will be trade paperback size.

My double anthology of sword and sorcery stories that I edited for Seventh Star press will be trade paperback size.

I’m actually going to push for any book released by me to be automatically in trade paperback size. I may not get it for everything, but it’s what I want.

They are easier to hold, easier to read, and easier to shelve. They are narrower, so you can fit more on a shelf, and with a mass market, you lose the 3-4 inch difference in dead space between the top of the book and the bottom of the shelf above it.

This post has no real merit. It was just a musing I thought I would indulge because, hey, fuck it, it’s my internet too.

So what’s your choice or opinion on this hot-button issue?

I DON’T KNOW IF I MISSPOKE OR WAS MISHEARD (I have an opinion on which it were of course)

Sorry, I started editing an anthology that became two anthologies and I looked up and a month was gone. I’m also about to remodel the tattoo shop I own (Family Tradition Tattoo) in Marietta, Ga so lots and lots has kept me away.

Anyway, I’m at JordanCon this weekend. This is a nice con. Real nice. Easy to work, 20 minutes from the house, the staff is super nice, and it’s loaded with folks I like:

Delilah S. Dawson

Alex Hughes

John Hartness

Deb Dixon from Bell Bridge Books

Anthony Taylor

Stuart Jaffe

Jana Oliver

I was on a great panel with Delilah, Alex, John, and Seanan Mcguire today where the topic of what we read came up. We gave our list and I said that I have been concentrating on reading some classic literature and award winners to see if they were worth the hype, ala, Hemmingway (yes), Falkner (yes), and others.

After saying it I felt the need to clarify that I wasn’t putting down genre in any way. I didn’t want anyone in the room to walk away with the impression that I think genre books aren’t “real” literature.

In my clarification the audience mistakenly thought I was putting down one of my co-panelists books which is the exact opposite of what I was saying. Now I’m not slick, but I don’t often misspeak (and I am never shy about an opinion) but my point that a good book is a good fucking book no matter where the publisher puts it and to be prejudiced by genre is dumb and limits you and no one else.

One of my literary heroes is Robert E. Howard. I have made no secret to that. He’s considered a hack by the wide, wide literary world. He wrote pulp, a LOT of it. He wrote about swords and barbarians and wizards and boxers and pictish kings and magic.

He also wrote about destiny, morality, love, valor, and metaphysical concepts such as genetic memory, immortality, reincarnation, and others. His wordcraft equals the greats of literature and I place him next to Cormac McCarthy.

Kurt Vonnegut is now considered literature, but trust me, he wrote science fiction and speculative fiction. The literati loves Neil Gaimen but he writes magical realism. It’s all genre dammit. Both of them are on the level of Harlan Ellison and the literati turns a nose up at him.

Genre is real writing folks. It just is. It’s not all vampire smooches and shit blowing up.

Go click the links in this blog if you don’t believe me. Order some books. Get your read on.

YO, HO, HO AND A BOTTLE OF TORRENT (or my contribution to International Please Don’t Pirate My Book DaY)

The other day, hell yesterday, the abominable snowman that is Chuck Wendig did a kick ass post on internet piracy. He ask for authors to join in the discussion and post up a blog with their thoughts. Here’s mine:

Okay I’ll admit it. I’ve pirated a lot of stuff in my day. Clicked it, downloaded it, thought nothing of it.  Music, tv shows, movies, damn near nothing was safe from my greedy grasp.

I had a lot of reasons, some where that ti didn’t matter, some were that stuff was unavailable in a way that would benefit the artist (I mean, did Muddy Waters really care that I downloaded his performance in London? I mean, being dead and all he probably didn’t care)

I heard a lot of talk from pirates about the fan aspect. The “if I try it and I like it then it helps get the word out.”

Well that works for music but it does almost nothing for an author.

I’ve worked in the music industry in clubs and owning a tiny (and I mean freaking tiny) record label with my best friend Kevin in the 90’s.

HERE is a link to one of the albums we put out.

And now I’m an author.

Here’s the gig: If you download a band’s record (one released through a label, not independant) then often they don’t care. The reason for this is that the band made their money on the record already. They got an advance which is theirs. Yes it goes to the recording of the album but if they get 10 grand and spend 2 then they pocket the rest.

This advance is recouped by the record label keeping the royalties earned from sales.

So far, this is the same way it is in the publishing industry.

But that shit is about to change.

Now the band has their record out. It’s up on Itunes, Amazon, on the shelves of the few Best Buys out there. If they are big enough they go in Walmart and all the other places CD’s still live. The band then books a tour, hit the road, and play gigs. Sometimes they get paid for the gig, sometimes not, but while they are out there they are hawking t-shirts and other merchandise.

This is where a band makes a living.

They get in front of fans, even the fans who pirated their album, and then sell them the two things that CANNOT be pirated, a live performance and a piece of merchandise.

Now remember how I said that this was just like publishing? Well, here’s where it ain’t.

An author gets their book out. It goes live on Amazon, B&N, and on bookshelves across the world. The author hits the road promoting the book. They work conventions and do book signings and speak. They bust their ass to entertain the fans who come, even the ones who pirated their book.


If you go see an author live at a convention or a signing then they are NOT getting paid for that. It is coming out of their pocket. It COSTS them money to be where you are, even if they are local.

So now you know. Buy the book. It’s the only real way that supports an author. The only way that matters.

And don’t pull the “I want to try it to see if I like it first” crap. There isn’t a book out there that you can’t read a preview for free. If you pirate it and it doesn’t blow your socks off then you won’t pay for it.

But you like books. You like writers. Put the money on the table.

We all appreciate it.

REBLOG: 25 Thoughts On Book Piracy « terribleminds: chuck wendig

25 Thoughts On Book Piracy « terribleminds: chuck wendig.

Go read it. I’ll be here tomorrow with my thoughts on the whole gig.

Reblogging a great article: 8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer | Jane Friedman

I am reading BLOOD MERIDIAN by Cormac McCarthy because he is a total literary badass and I want to write like him.  I ran across this article, which by title sounds vaguely manipulative, but actually just gives some great advice (with examples) of how to write better.

8 Writing Techniques to Win You a Pulitzer | Jane Friedman.