So Sci-Fi on the Rock 7 has come and gone, and it’s always a weird time. This convention, more than any other, marks the passage of time for me. It’s been seven years since Engen Books started. Since that first spark when I was talking to Kenneth Tam and went “I can do this,” and started this weird, oddball publishing company that has shaped so much of my life since.
Every convention is different and every experience is different. This convention, I’m happy to report, was our biggest in terms of sales: both in number of books moved and amount of money made, according to our accountant — I can’t be trusted with the money.
And really, that’s incredible. That should not be possible. We’ve been coming to the same convention 6 times in a row — logically, everyone who was going to buy a copy of the book should already have it. But there’s a reason I’m an author and not a marketer, and this year really proved me wrong.
Every convention has it’s stories. The weird little behind-the-scenes tidbits that nobody sees that just makes it real. At Sci-Fi on the Rock to it was singing “Old Man River” with Boba Fett. At Polaris 24 it was making an ass of myself in front of Claudia Black. At Hal Con 2012 it was having a chat with John Rhys Davis about politics — and then getting tickled by him during a picture. This convention was different though. This time it was special, and had nothing to do with rubbing shoulders with the A-listers and then coming home to write about it, hoping that blog hits from someone searching that celeb will result in book sales for you. Nope, this time the coolness came from a very, very different place.
This year we sold more books than ever before, and got more positive feedback than ever before. I didn’t print any ads. I did very little to hype it on Facebook. I don’t think the newest books are even available on the Engen website as of yet (coming soon, website’s getting revamped). There was no social-media marketing. There was no air-time on VOCM. There was no web-presence to speak of. Engen Books had it’s best day ever for one reason and one reason alone — positive word of mouth.
No less than a dozen times did someone come up to us and say “My friend read your first book, and he can’t stop talking about it. I’d like to pick up the whole series.” Those people pictured on the left? That is the Unofficial Engen Street Crew: the people really spreading the word about Engen Books. I left Sci-Fi on the Rock 7 with a renewed sense of purpose and a new conviction to continue doing what we’ve been doing — and to get better. Because this crew deserves for it to get better.
Did I sing a song with Dominic Keating? No. Do a jog with Gary Jones? Nada. Embarrass myself in front of Dean Haglund? Not this time. What I did get was validation — this is working for us. We’re doing what we love and other people love it too. There is no better feeling than that. Than having fans who are just as into your thing as you are, and it’s reminded me who we are.
We are Engen Books.
We write amazing fiction. We take the mundane and make it spectacular. We create worlds and craft ideas and change thought. And we are good at what we do.
And we never look back.