One panel I was on in particular stuck with me, though, and it was all about being a professional author. It was almost my first hall panel (when the panelists and attendees are there bright and early, but the hotel staff hasn't opened the room yet so you just start lecturing your gathered audience in the hallway). I was seated next to the very talented Jonathan P. Brazee, and we shared the space with authors like Tim Akers, as well as K.M. Herkes. And while we were all talking about what it takes to hand sell books, how to hustle, and how we got into writing professionally, we all simultaneously stumbled on one of the great secrets of standing out at a convention when you're an author.
You need to wear a hat.
|No, seriously, do it.|
No, This Isn't a Joke
Take a moment and think of several famous authors you can actually identify by sight. George R.R. Martin is one, but so is Sir Terry Pratchett. If you're a fan of unique cyberpunk, you might also think of Megan Mackie, author of the The Finder of The Lucky Devil. All of these folks might be known for their talent and skill with words, but they're recognized for their iconic headgear. And when you're at an event that will have between 1,500 and 50,000 people (depending on the size of your preferred convention) you need something that will let people identify you at a glance.
|Maybe you've seen this handsome bastard around at shows, for instance?|
Let me paint the scene for you. Gen Con was swollen to a fresh capacity, drawing roughly 60,000 attendees. There were hordes of fellow gamers, and a small army of professionals trying to keep the wheels turning. I was all over the dealer's room, and making my way into the Ennies with the intent of shaking a few hands and maybe getting a new job offer or two. At the end of that convention, not one person remembered my actual name. But more than two dozen designers, writers, and RPG professionals immediately recognized my hat, and remembered that I was the Literary Mercenary. Even if we'd just had a quick 10-minute conversation the day before, they remembered my beret, because not one other person at the whole con had one like it.
That one piece of information, and the name associated with it, was all it took. Because if you type my handle into Google, you can find my real name, and an email to offer me a job. Some did, and all because of that one, strong impression.
Why are hats (or in the case of K.M. Herkes, an eye-catching shade of blue hair) so effective? Well, it's generally because hats stand out. In addition to being something you instantly notice, a hat can be seen from a distance, and if your hat is unique then it will also be lumped in with your persona as an author.
Fortunately, a good hat can also last a very long time. So if you've got something that would make you easier to remember, don't be afraid to pop it on your head and stand out from the crowd. Because before someone can read your book, they actually have to notice who the hell you are.
Like, Follow, and Stay Tuned!
That's all for this week's Business of Writing! If you'd like to see more of my work, take a look at my Vocal archive, or at My Amazon Author Page where you can find books like my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife as well as my recent collection The Rejects!