Monday, November 23, 2015

Monday, November 23rd, 2015: Fish Wielders of OryCon37!

At OryCon 37! My first table at a con!
Well! I just closed out my first experience running a table at a science fiction and fantasy convention. What an awesome event, and what fun and interesting people! I've done several signing events for my graphic novel at comicons before, but those were organized and run by Dark Horse comics, so I didn't really have to do anything but show up. This was very different. I was running a table in the "fan" section because, of course, Fish Wielder isn't actually out yet, so I didn't have any books to sign or sell. Instead, I did a promotional blitz. I gave out almost 200 buttons (mostly of Brad), tons of stickers and temporary tattoos, and dozens of Fish Wielder posters. I also gave out a bunch of copies of my graphic novel, The Helm, so that folks who couldn't see my book yet could get a taste of my writing style to see if they might be interested in the book when it comes out in August of 2016.

Overall, I'd have to say that the event felt pretty successful. Lots of folks seemed intrigued by the book, dozens of people gave me their emails for a Fish Wielder newsletter and I had a lot of fascinating conversations with warm and generous people. And a few delightfully odd ones! I also got to try out potential elevator pitches of the book, and I was given some excellent advice to help me do even better next time.

For those of you considering doing something like this in the future, here were some of my learnings:

1. Bring a big roll of painters' tape. You just never know what you might need to tape, but believe me, there will be things.

2. Bring a bowl of candy to give away! Lots of people stopped by to snag a snack and stayed to chat about the book.

3. At least at this kind of con, most people didn't want to have to lug posters around--so smaller, easier to carry swag might be better. It did help that I brought a big supply of rubber bands to keep the posters rolled.

4. Buttons seem to trump everything else (even free graphic novels).

5. Small cards--or better yet, book marks--with all the important details about release date, publisher, publisher website, my website, etc. would have been very helpful. Several people in the book selling business stopped by the table and gave me this bit of useful advice.

6. Everybody at the con seemed to be collecting ribbons to stick on their badges--so ribbons might have been good too.

7. Put out a pad of paper for people to write down their email addresses. I had intended to do that on my computer, but there was no power available. And make sure you have a pen right beside your pad, and a spare pen in case your first pen mysteriously vanishes.

I also applied a bunch of temporary tattoos at the table, so that there was an army of fish wielders walking the con. Here are a few of the brave folks who will be wearing Brad for the next week or two:

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Saturday, November 7th, 2015: BlurbQuest Score! Piers Anthony Blurb and New Shirt

A Spell for Chameleon, A Blurb for Jim!
After 16 days of waiting (way sooner than I expected), Piers Anthony, New York Times Bestselling author (21 times over) wrote back and sent me a review of Fish Wielder for blurbing purposes. Here's the blurb:

"This is one wild romp! I suspect some smarter reader than I could do a doctoral dissertation just fathoming the fantasy genre's famous legends that are parodied here. I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone."

Here's the longer version from the email I received on Halloween morning:

"I read Fish Wielder, by Jim Hardison. This is one wild romp! It's a deliberate parody of heroic fantasy that reminds me obscurely of the wrestler Gorgeous George. He was one who found a way to make his fame, distinguishing himself from all the other pro wrestlers in a genre noted for its flair and fakery, by getting a permanent done on his long blond hair. Fans noticed that. I remember a review that remarked that underneath all the wild showmanship was actually a pretty good wrestler. Okay, underneath layer on layer of highly unlikely characterization and adventure is actually a pretty good story, told by a writer who has a pretty fair knowledge of his craft. I suspect some smarter reader than I could do a doctoral dissertation just fathoming the Fantasy genre's famous legends that are parodied here. Just when you think that the final twisted thread has been unraveled, a whole nother level of ludicrous coincidence is unveiled. I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone.

Piers Anthony

I wish I could use more of what he said on the cover of Fish Wielder, but we'll probably wind up shortening it to "This is one wild romp! I'm not sure I've seen such preposterously determined critic-baiting parody since Xanth or Asprin's Myth-begotten series. I recommend it to anyone," because, you know, shortness. Shortness is good when it comes to blurbs.

In other BlurbQuest news, I have also finally sent the Fish Wielder manuscript off to Nick Harkaway. This makes me more than a little nervous. You'll remember that his qualifiers when agreeing to look at my manuscript were, "I blurb if something is awesome, within one of the areas where someone might give a damn what I think, and (more tricky) if I get to it in a timely fashion. I say the last one's tricky because I'm wrestling my own book atm and it's putting up a hell of a fight..." So, that's fairly stiff criteria--starting with "if it's awesome". Will he think it's awesome? Will he feel like it's in an area where people would care what he thinks? I just don't know. While all of Nick's books have a wicked sense of humor to them, they are not really comedies by any stretch. He is a serious writer and has been one of my favorites ever since I read his debut novel, "The Gone Away World". That's part of what makes me nervous. Not only is he a great writer, his work is much more serious than mine. Fish Wielder is really a very ridiculous book. While I feel that it has some serious themes (and some genuine merits, I hope), they lie deeply burried under layers and layers of silliness. Silliness, as I have learned over the years, is not to everyone's taste. Some people just don't like it. So, there is a very real possibility that Nick won't like Fish Wielder because of that--or for a dozen other potential reasons--like maybe he'll just think it sucks. And then, of course, he may think that it's not really in his genre of writing and therefore not something he should blurb about.

I wonder if other authors get this nervous when they send their work off to be read by writers they admire and respect? That's kind of a funny thing with writing--there is no objective way to qualify that something is actually, definitively good, so it opens up a lot of room for self doubt and second guessing. My graphic novel, "The Helm" was pretty well received, but there were some folks who really hated it, too.

Oh well, I guess I was pretty nervous when I sent the book off to Piers Anthony too, and that has worked out very nicely. I'll just have to wait and see...and I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

In other news, I got another test T-shirt back from the printers. This one is of the Princess Nalweegie and the image is taken from Herb Apon's excellent cover art. Here it is: