I went to MidAmeriCon this week and it was varying levels of exciting, exhausting, traumatic, and fun. As cons often are. Haha.
When I was designing and purchasing my own ~author swag~ I saw a few review posts of the swag they got at conventions, so I thought I would do my own for MidAmeriCon, in hopes my opinions help someone else.
The last big book convention I went to was RT Booklover’s Con in 2013 (in KC, because travel is ew and I only go to cons local to me, lmao) and they had several awesome events throughout the week where authors sat at booths and you could just come interact with them and buy their stuff and check out what they had. I loved that, and loved how showing up at RTCon got you a BAG O SWAG and that there was a goodie room, and etc. MidAmeriCon … was more like a rennaissance fair/craft fair thing? Which I guess is fun for some people? Idk if I’m at a book convention, I want to do BOOK THINGS. So.
They had “freebie table” which was just a few folding tables full of free books and goodies. But other than that… there wasn’t a lot of interaction with authors and publishers like there was at RT Con, so. I was a bit disappointed.
Anyway, of the goodies I did get… let’s discuss.
These were little freebie cards piled up at the end of the freebie book table. I actually picked up more than this, but they were all thin, bookmark-shaped items, and I have already lost them. It’s been less than 24 hrs since I got them, and they’re just… gone. So that’s something to think about if you’re purchasing your own swag items, haha.
I only pick up things that either a) will look pretty in my wall collage in my bedroom, b) are clearly women-centric projects, either about women or by women, c) [I would pick up queer-centric things too, but there were none].
In the upper left of this picture, the Orphancorp one. I was intrigued by the image and wanted to know more, and on the back of the card is actually an excerpt from the book, which was great. I love that I didn’t have to “click to download 1st chapter” (let’s be real – I never do). My only complaint about the Orphancorp card is that it is *not clear* what genre this is. The review blurb talks about the story being “real,” and I’m not sure if this is a true story about a real thing, or spec fic. It’s not mentioned anywhere. (Goodreads says it is spec fic, which has added it to my TBR list. If it were *not* spec fic, I’m not sure I’d be interested in it? Just because I avoid really depressing real-life books)
Order of the Seers – Diversity + women! V. excited. There’s more blurbs and book covers on the back, and this has definitely intrigued me enough to make it onto my goodreads TBR list. The stock photo in the black person’s eye makes me roll my eyes lmao because it’s like, the cheesiest first-on-google-search image of handholding ever.
Bottom left… I have some feelings about this one. I picked it up because it looks amazing, but after reading the back… apparently this is a white woman’s collection of essays. Uh. Given the fact that the cover is very stylized to look like Arabic writing? This gives me a really bad taste in my mouth. The words are English words, but the styling, I had expected this to be somehow related to the middle east in SOME fashion. But it’s not. At all. They just … wanted the aesthetics. So, wow. Definitely not reading, definitely not interested, kind of offended / feel like I got ripped off.
Spectrum cards – Lovely art, so I picked them up. Turns out it’s a collection/anthology of artists and I am not at all the target audience for it. But they’re definitely pretty and had they been for a literary magazine or something else, I would have been interested.
These are items that I picked up on purpose from the author or that were handed to me by someone. Besides the pretty key/flower one and the Queen of Blood book, I probably would have passed on all of these if I didn’t have a connection with the person. The Bringer of Lore set of 3 items aren’t very visually appealing to me, the ReTech.org one is so small and uninteresting. But because these people approached me or we had a conversation, I’m highly interested in their work because I was interested in them as people.
BOOKS from the freebie table, plus booklets I picked up from authors at the con. Again – I only pick up books by women or about women, or else the story has to be *really* interesting-sounding. There were a lot of books on the table whose covers were just some random white dude’s face with some stylistic stuff happening? No? No thank you?
Of this pile, I’m most excited about The Eterna Files (gaslight spiritualism mystery by an author I’ve read before), Reliquary (I’m familiar with the author + I’m interested in reading more from 47North), and The n-Body Problem (“What would happen if we launched zombies into the sun?” i am intrigued lmao). Fearful Symmetries appears to be a horror anthology, which was not explicitly mentioned anywhere on the front or back cover (except the editor is apparently well-known as a horro antho editor?) and the authors included aren’t necessarily horror auths? Buuuut if I had realized it was about horror, I wouldn’t’ve picked it up. Somehow I got the idea it was about parallel universes? But it’s not. Bear & the Nightingale I picked up because I thought it was a retelling of East of the Sun, West of the Moon based on a quick survey of the back blurb. It’s not, and I *think* its audience is more middle grade? Again that’s not stated anywhere on the book but it’s a vibe I’m getting.
I think overall, what I wish these items had more of was explicitly stating what your book is. I wish it had been obvious upon a quick glance what was being advertised instead of my having to dig for it. Because there may have been more on the table that was exactly what I was looking for, but because they didn’t explicitly state it, I didn’t pick it up. Conversely, I think you can create a very negative reaction in readers when you aren’t clear and upfront, because they can think “oh wow, due to this or that clues, I think your book is THIS” and then…….. wow super off-base.
And maybe this is just me, but freebie tables / author tables / anywhere where there is a line and crowds and etc. and you have to make quick decisions whether or not to pick up and take home items… that stresses me out? a lot? And my brain isn’t fully engaged, and so I think being really clear without making people hunt around for what on earth this thing even is would make it easier for you to connect with people who are looking for what you’re selling.