Friday, March 14, 2008

FYI: ROI and Conferences

The good news is that it’s Friday. The bad news? Charles’ turn to post!

First, a note to Donis – sure, you’re disappointed your Drop Edge of Yonder didn’t win the 2008 Oklahoma Book Award for Fiction, but two finalists positions for the same award equals a win. In my world, anyway. You’ll just have to be happy that everyone who has read the book has loved it. May you make millions happy!

Interesting post about conferences from Miss Vicki – here’s my take:

The Always Good:

· Bumping into strangers who have read my books

· Meeting interesting people

o Some of whom are authors

· Hanging with people I already know

· Meeting new book dealers

· Participating in a panel discussion

· Drinking at the hotel bar

The Sometimes Good

  • Attending panel sessions
  • The main dinner and the speaker
  • Seeing the sights of the city/town/street
  • Business related discussions at the bar
    • Until they become brag sessions
    • Until they become complaint sessions
      • Unless someone’s picking up the tab
  • Meeting pre-published authors looking for advice
  • Meeting highly successful authors
    • Until they let you know just how below them you are
      • Unless they are picking up the tab

Usually Not Good

  • The hotel bill
  • The airline bill
  • The bar bill
  • Book sales

A note on book sales. At an average conference I sign maybe 30 books, which would be a great library event or Mall signing. But when you consider I fly X number of miles to get to the event, I can’t say that it’s worth it in sales. Even future sales. Seriously, what will my attending the conference lead to sales wise? 20 more. 30 more? A 100 more?

In advertising, clients are always concerned (rightfully) on the ROI – the Return On Investment. Last October I took a hard look at my ROI for attending conferences as opposed to other forms of marketing. Since then I have not attended a conference. Normally I hit Left Coast Crime, Malice Domestic and Sleuthfest. Not this year. For me, the measurable ROI from conferences just isn’t there. Sure, maybe it’s stuff I can’t measure, but I’m not convinced and I’m weighing different strategies for 2008. I will be at some conferences (NoirCon, Murder in the Grove, Magna Cum Murder, Bouchercon) but mostly my time will be spent devising different ways to get my name/books out there. Plan #1? That mass-giveaway I mentioned in the comment section of Vicki’s blog.

I’ll keep you posted.



Anonymous said...

I've only gone to two conferences since I was published. I sold 8 books at one, and 6 at another. I decided that the cost was just too high to justify that. I'm concentrating on the Internet. It's work, but I'm seeing results. So far they might only equel the books I sold at those two conferences, but it didn't cost me two grand, either.

Rick Blechta said...

I'm with youse guys on this. Unless you're the guest of honor or something like that, it's just too darn expensive to go to most of these conferences, compared to what you get out of them. Yes, it is terrific to see people you only get together with at these little clambakes, but on the whole, it is just not a cost-effective way to promote oneself for all the reasons stated so eloquently by Mssr. Benoit.

Besides the cost, there's also the time investment. Going to Left Coast Crime, for instance, would have meant at least 5 days out of town. If we're talking simply about books sold, I could sell a heck of a lot more of them just hitting the stores throughout my area.

Sadly, this means that I, too, won't be attending many more of these events until I become so wealthy it doesn't make any difference.

Jeez! I could have sworn a pig just flew by my window...

Charles benoit said...

Don't worry, guys. If I'm ever paid the big bucks to pump out crap/have someone else pump out crap with my name on it, I'll pick up your tab!

Rick Blechta said...

Actually, I prefer diet Coke. But thanks for the offer! You're a real guy...

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