Table Worked: Orcacon 2018

January 12-14, 2018

This is a great way to get the con year started. We’ve been a part of Orcacon since their Year 1 and keep going back. There’s reasons for that.

Orcacon isn’t really a literary convention the way some are. Most people are there to play games, be introduced to new games, and to be social around the gaming table. The vendor room is small, with about a dozen vendors, two of which are local game stores. We’re the only authors/book vendors in the room.

Nevertheless, we usually do okay there as a whole. The atmosphere is mostly relaxed and welcoming. Most of the vendors are repeat vendors, so everyone knows each other. (Granted, at this point, we know a lot of the local vendors, but in general, this is a very familiar room/crowd.)

So, what stands out about it? First, Orcacon has made a serious commitment to diversity. They don’t have a lot of panels, but of what they do have, about a third are in some way diversity related. The crowd is about half female. The LGBT crowd are definitely out in force at this one. Most of the special guests are tied in with the diversity panels. And they have one of the most hardcore, and most visible, anti-harassment policies in the local con scene.

Aside from being awesome in its own right, this is also pretty cool from a pure vending perspective. The female-fronted YA, lots of representation across multiple books, and ability to tell customers that, yes, we have books that feature LGBT, minority, disabled, non-neurotypical, etc. characters certainly helps us. It’s also really, really rewarding as an author to have those sales where you know you’re reaching your audience and that the representation we put into the books is meaningful to the readers as well. We had a couple of those at this show.

The fact that this is one we do a lot and is a small-to-mid-size convention also means we get a number of repeat customers. That’s also a nice boost, knowing that people like what you’ve written and want more. It’s also been a chance to use fans of one of our authors to hook readers on others. We had one of my fans, and two of Nikki’s who had read most of our books show up asking for what we had that was “sort of similar.” Thankfully, we had answers for that.

We’re always on the lookout for over-arching themes, good tag-lines, etc. This one had some familiar themes. People were very interested in signed books. The “Which one(s) is/are yours?” question came up a lot, especially on Friday. Otherwise, in a familiar theme, the YA did really well. Writerpunk also had a good show to open the year. Beyond that, this was a really easy, close-to-home, well-run show.

Which made for a great way to kick off the year.

Next up: the Tacoma Home & Garden Show.

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About Lee French

Lee French lives in Olympia, WA with two kids, two bicycles, and too much stuff. She is an avid gamer, casual bicyclist, and lackluster gardener. Most of her writing is done in a Beanbag of Comfort +4. Best known for her young adult urban fantasy series, SPIRIT KNIGHTS, Lee is an active member of SFWA, PNWA, and NIWA.
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