Tag Archives: conventions

Witty Writer Book Buttons

I discovered early on that a really good way to learn about becoming a mystery writer was to attend writers’ conferences and conventions. Not only did I learn a lot, but I made lots of friends and had the opportunity to meet my favorite authors as I scampered between classes and also sessions where authors talked about their careers and experiences, and I saw awards being presented and interviews and speeches being made and then there was—shopping! Shopping? What’s shopping got to do with anything? Well, let me tell you.

Conventions always have a book store so fans can purchase the books authors talk about during the event and I did plenty of that. But not all book stores only sell books. One of my favorites sells puzzles, jewelry, clothing (including T-shirts), even tea pots and book buttons!

I have a small collection of clever book buttons mounted on ribbons that hang from a shelf in my office, just to the right of my work space. Whenever I pause to think or rest, I can’t help seeing those buttons. They make me smile, bring me back to where they were purchased, remind me of those writers who have fulfilled my life with their stories and friendships. But I digress.

Topics of book buttons are as varied as the authors who create them. Some are about writing itself, while others have to do with a furry pet assistant, or perhaps the problem of owning too many books, or they may be quotes by famous people.

The following fit that category:

“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” —Jane Austen

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” —C.S. Lewis

“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”   —Jorge Luis Borges

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all the miseries of life.”  — W. Somerset Maugham

Since I write in the mystery field, cats are common in that genre.

To a cat, “No!” means “not while I’m looking.”

Cat hair is the new black.








Or catchy phrases:

Books: the original search engine.

Lit Happens!

Grammar Police: To correct and serve

Grammar Ninja

Warning! Anything you say can and may be used as dialogue in my next book.

The book was better.

Don’t judge a book by its movie.

First drafts don’t have to be perfect. They just have to be written.

Writer’s block: when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you.

Some of my best friends are fictional.

My weekend is all booked.

If you walk a mile in my shoes you’ll end up at a bookstore.

Some more of my favorite book buttons below. Do you have favorites, too?















Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.

Join her here each 11th of the month









Filed under writing

Reaching for the Stars by Sheila Englehart

As a writer, I’ve never been much of a planner. As a writer new to marketing, I’m fast learning that the art of selling a novel requires a bit of preparation. I don’t have a massive online marketing platform so I decided to find influential readers interested in my genre who did. I thought if the right person with a longer reach than mine praised my book, their fans might check it out. Ask any author who caught Oprah’s eye.

 Warning Signs is an afterlife suspense, who better to target than the people who seek out – or even talk to – dead people for a living? Ghost hunters, monster chasers, and psychic mediums topped my list. And where could I find them in the broad daylight? Paranormal conventions. October is Dead Season, when those in the paranormal field hit the black and orange road leading up to Halloween.

Paracon was holding its second annual convention in Mahnomen, MN. When I saw their guest list, I put it on my calendar and bought tickets the minute they went on sale. This event was playing host to the stars of SyFy’s series Ghost Hunters, Haunted Collector, Ghost Hunters International, and Destination Truth along with famous medium Chip Coffey from A&E’s Paranormal State and Psychic Kids. Each show had a star who had penned a memoir about their life or their show. Paracon was going to be an all-in-one stop for this paranormal novelist.

My plan? Take the books I owned by these already- famous authors, get them signed, and give them a copy of my book. No pitching, no begging them to read it, no asking for reviews.  Who is going to turn down a free book? Not the most elegant plan. But what was the worst that could happen? They throw it in the trash before they head for home? I was starting with nothing, and had nothing to lose. I told myself, “You must boldly go where you never imagined you would, or you won’t get anywhere.”

I had five specific targets: two mediums and three television stars. The first two graciously accepted my offering with congratulations. I felt awkward and silly, but I managed to create a little small talk hopefully without repelling them. The remaining three presented more of a challenge. One medium was so busy that she was impossible to pin down. I was smart enough to grab her card to contact her later. Another TV star was a no-show. The guy chases monsters for a living in the most remote places on the planet, and what took him down? Poison oak. The star I thought would be a sure thing told me that she didn’t read fiction. What? It took me a moment to recover, but when I did she shared that she enjoyed history, true crime, and genealogy. That’s tough competition.

Striking up conversation about my novel with other attendees proved even harder. Celebrities are always the big draw at conventions. Booths manned by unknowns hawking books and services were largely bypassed by the herd. People had come to touch the heroes they invited into their homes for an hour each week. Unless I was connected to one of those stars, they didn’t care about my book. That didn’t stop me from discreetly leaving my bookmarks around for people to find: in hotel rooms, seat pockets of the plane, magazines, beneath tips in restaurants. I did resist planting them in the bestsellers at the airport bookstores.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. I’ll go as far as I can reasonably afford to get my book in as many hands as I can. I wish I could have hit all my targets, but I did my best to get my book into influential hands.  Couldn’t hurt to have a famous fan. I would have loved to hit another convention before the season ended, but ran out of time. Lesson learned for next year.

As the Ghost Hunters used to say at the close of each episode, “On to the next.”



Filed under books, fiction, marketing, Travel

The Benefits of Conventions and Conferences by Coco Ihle

What is the difference between conventions and conferences? My belief is that conventions are mainly for fans, but are also attended by writers, agents, editors, and publishers; whereas conferences are geared more toward the craft and business of the writing and publishing world.

I like to include both for a well-rounded perspective. My field is mystery and I classify what I write as traditional, maybe even cosy books. When deciding which to choose, my eye is open to how I can learn the most about my craft and whether or not I have the opportunity to meet other authors to ask what has and hasn’t worked for them. I also look for the chance to meet potential fans.

Another benefit to going to conventions and conferences is the infectious enthusiastic atmosphere that permeates every nook and cranny there. I started attending these events years before I had a book published,
and upon returning home, I couldn’t wait to get back to my writing in progress. I was refreshed and filled with the desire to exercise some of the ideas I had just learned, to try out a new approach with my characters or plot, or just bask in the delight of the new friendships I had made.

At first, smaller venues seemed to provide me with the most “bang for my buck” by the very fact that there were more opportunities and time to make the connections I wanted. The larger ones were good for showing me more of the whole picture and exposing me to more genres.

For beginners, I would suggest starting at smaller cons and conferences and work your way to larger ones. That way your experiences won’t be so overwhelming. Bouchercon, for instance, can seem a bit intimidating to a
newbie, although thrilling in its immenseness.

Everyone, these days, talks about the importance of networking. Cons and conferences are perfect occasions for this. Putting away your shy streak is tough, but necessary. Meet everyone you can. You’re most likely a reader, a fan. Start by complimenting a favorite author. If you don’t have one, you certainly will by the end of the event—probably several. Be brave, you’ll be so glad you were.

I’m off to Bouchercon next week. Wish me luck!


Filed under books, fiction, marketing, musings, writing