Fun, Fear & Loathing at Dragon*Con 2012

All of the experts agree. The top, #1, most important key to success for any author is to KNOW THY TARGET AUDIENCE. Which is followed closely by the second most important key to success: FIGURE OUT HOW TO CONNECT TO THY TARGET AUDIENCE.

Let me introduce you to my target audience…

All of the above pictures were taken at Dragon*Con. I don’t know any of the people in the pictures. I’ve never met any of the photographers. And yet I love every person who contributed to the creation of these images with a fierce and deeply loyal sort of love.

At the same time, I kind of fear them. Standing next to all of this flamboyant, wildly-creative geekery makes me feel like a washed-out wallflower in the Star Wars galaxy of fandom. Which probably explains why I have lived in the North Georgia area for over four years, but never ventured near the annual Labor Day celebration of pop-culture geekery known as Dragon*Con….until this year. Emboldened by the pressing need to come up with a concrete marketing strategy to connect with my audience in 2013, I finally took the plunge and purchased a Saturday membership (which is just a Con-ish way to say I bought a ticket).

Ahhhh….Dragon*Con! If you’ve never heard of it or have no idea what it’s all about, I’m not going to be able to explain it. Luckily, I don’t have to. Because PBS has done all the work for me. Check out Four Days at Dragon*Con (a look inside the largest fan-run, pop-culture con in the US).

It’s fascinating. Seriously. Click on the link. I’ll wait here while you enjoy the show.

OK, welcome back. Now here’s what I learned…about myself, about the con and about Star Wars fans:

  1. This thing is HUGE. Some people tried to tell me how big this thing is, but my brain did not even begin to fathom the mind-boggling, overwhelming size and density of this event. I attended Mardi Gras in 1990. It was kind of like that, except 80-90% of the crowd is wearing incredible costumes and (as far as I could tell) no one was sloppy drunk &/or urinating in public places.
  2. To avoid being chewed up and spit out by this event, I should have studied the program tracks and a map of the hotels BEFORE the event. Since I did not do this, I wandered around feeling small and confused, snapped a few pictures, perused the vendor rooms (where I had to talk myself out of purchasing a purple lightsaber), chatted with and received kind encouragement from some awesome Star Wars folks (see items 3 & 4) and, ultimately, hid out most of the day in a Mediterranean restaurant sipping white wine and chatting with a sales representative from Premier Digital Publishing about the brave new publishing world and its opportunities for authors.
  3. There are not one, but TWO international costuming organizations dedicated to Star Wars costuming:  Rebel Legion is dedicated to costumes for the good guys (Jedi, Rebels, Princesses and even Wookies) and 501st Legion is the world’s definitive Imperial costuming organization.
  4. There’s also an international club of R2 builders!
  5. If I’m going to do this thing next year and truly make the most of this HUGE marketing opportunity that happens every year so close to my own hidden rebel base, I’m going to need:
    • A partner (or two) in crime. (Flying Solo might be a personal fantasy come true, but flying solo at Dragon*Con is not my idea of a good time.)
    • Lots and lots of glossy, pretty bookmarks &/or cards to drop all over this event.
    • A full, four-day membership (gulp).
    • Some creative way to visually identify myself as a Star Wars geek that does NOT involve (1) a metal bikini, (2) hiding inside a helmet, (3) hundreds of dollars and hours of work creating the perfect costume, or (4) being forced to APPROACH total strangers showing off their finest Star Wars gear to tell them about my book

Hmmmmm….this is where I would love, love, LOVE some help.

I know I will need to attend events with a high density of Star Wars fans throughout 2013. But I need a strategy. An action plan. Some way to draw the Star Wars fans to me and start a conversation. (Note: While I feel perfectly comfortable talking to anyone who approaches me, I’m entirely incapable of thrusting myself into another person’s path without an invitation.)

I’m in desperate need of your ideas and suggestions. If you don’t feel comfortable posting them here, please send an email to “Slayzak” using the AOL address.

photo credits: Cayusa via photopin cc, greyloch via photopin cc, sjmck via photopin cc, & Courtarro via photopin cc

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3 thoughts on “Fun, Fear & Loathing at Dragon*Con 2012

  1. Trish! I was so happy when your blog post popped into my inbox.

    I think it’s great that you went to Dragon Con. My son has wanted me to let him go for year and I have always been like, “You can’t go. There are too many weirdos there.” 🙂

    But maybe I’ll make him take me next year so we can buy your book.

    I’m sorry I have no marketing suggestions. Once you shot down the metal bikini idea I was stumped. Because what could be better than a metal bikini?

  2. Hmm. I hope I’m not leaving a double comment. I tried to leave one and it vanished. So this is take two:

    Trish! I was so happy when your blog post popped into my inbox.

    I think it’s great that you went to Dragon Con. My son has wanted me to let him go for year and I have always been like, “You can’t go. There are too many weirdos there.” 🙂

    But maybe I’ll make him take me next year so we can buy your book.

    I’m sorry I have no marketing suggestions. Once you shot down the metal bikini idea I was stumped. Because what could be better than a metal bikini?

    • Hi Sally! Apparently my blog has been so neglected of late that it has forgotten its social skills, especially which comment sources to trust (that’s why the first comment temporarily disappeared). You and your son should definitely go to Dragon*Con, just don’t leave him unattended with a camera for too long. I’ve never seen so many scantily dressed ladies posing for pictures in my life! As for marketing, I’m wondering how much it would cost to get one of those R2 builders to create an R2 unit that spews out bookmarks……hmmmmmm. When in doubt, throw money at a problem.

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