[Header image taken by Jason P. Hunt; all other photos by Teresa Wickersham]
Day two of Kansas City Comic Con was full of more panels and workshops. During the afternoon, authors A.R. Crebs, Holly Messinger, Bethany Hagen, and Jae Byrd Wells talked about the paths they took to publication.
All four authors used various forms of self-publication and some used traditional ways to get published as well. The reasons to use self-publishing were all much the same: to retain control of the work, whether it was in order to use their own artwork, include artwork from various sources, or publish a novella that was not long enough to be of interest to a traditional publisher. Publishers tend to want to use their own in house artists so self-publishing is a way to let the author express themselves in the visual aspects of the book as well as the story.
The Esoteric Design is written and beautifully illustrated by A.R. Crebs. It blends many genres, including science fiction, fantasy and horror. There is no doubt about what the author imagined the characters to look like as she has drawn them for us, with very expressive faces. The illustrations are in black and white as color printing is expensive, but someday she hopes to publish an art book in color.
Bethany Hagen is the author of Landry Park, which is set in a future post war United States where income inequality has gone nuclear. Her advice about getting a literary agent was to find a book that was similar to what you write and look for the acknowledgements to find out the name of the agent. Compile a list and go through it until you find one that is interested. She also advised to think about whether you were an introvert or an extrovert before going into self-promotion. If you don’t actually enjoy using social media or traditional media to promote your work, it is worth it to hire a publicist.
Holly Messinger is the author of The Curse of Jacob Tracey, a post Civil War novel in which her protagonist acquires the unfortunate ability to see ghosts. She talked about selling online, and how one of her favorite reviews was of someone saying, “My name is Jacob Tracey and I approve this book.” Her advice is not to accept the first offer for your book if it’s not a good one. If you have something that one person will buy, another person will buy it, too. She also said that she used a sale on Audible to promote her book and boosted it 900%.
Jae Byrd Wells said she was tired of people telling her what to do so she wrote about mermaids. She has 24 illustrations in her book, The Tail Begins, that were done by an artist with a medieval style. She used a publisher with access to Amazon and other publishers. She also said that sometimes publishers don’t do any marketing and authors may have to do their own social media marketing. Wells has a degree in marketing and does her own. She has sold bullet earrings and gun shaped soap in the past.
Everyone agreed that something solid, like a bookmark, is a good thing to give out to promote your work and yourself. It’s a reminder that might prompt someone to buy your book long after they would have forgotten about it.
It was an interesting panel with interesting artists that have a multimedia approach to their art. The authors are also artists, costumers, social media marketers, and craftspeople. They are not afraid to use non-traditional forms of publishing or to use social media and their personalities to sell their books. The audience, composed mostly of would be authors, learned a lot about the brave new world of publishing.