Clockwork Alchemy, Day 3


I was in a little bit of a funk yesterday before the show, I admit.  Foot traffic to the Author’s Alley has been markedly lighter than in past years and my sales are far from where I had hoped they would be.

A couple of things helped.  One of them was a chat with my “next-door neighbor” at the show, Harry Turtledove.  When even a guy who is at that level of success sometimes feel discouraged, it helps to know you’re not alone.

The other thing that helped was my award.  My fellow authors and I decided to have a little decorating contest for our tables, to encourage people to make their displays nice.  I came in third, receiving the ribbon and a signed book from one of my fellow authors, Mike Tierney, The Secret Notebook of Michael Faraday.  What made this particularly special for me is this:  during the first year of Clockwork Alchemy, we offered mentoring appointments to aspiring authors.  Mike chose me … which surprised me, because he was working on something steampunk, and I do primarily historical fiction.  I said as much, and he told me that he wanted someone who focused on the history to tell him whether his concepts would work.  I very much thought that they would, and told him so.  The result was Mike’s debut, To Rule the Skies.  You can find Mike’s fact- and fun-filled blog at

Clockwork Alchemy 2017 closes at 1 PM today.  I’ll be in the Author’s Alley until at least 12 noon if you haven’t had a chance to stop by yet.  Thanks!


9 thoughts on “Clockwork Alchemy, Day 3

  1. I’m sorry that foot traffic wasn’t what you’d hoped for. Where I come from the reasons are fairly simple. The answers are very hard.

    It comes down to way too much content in every artistic field. Music, art, photography, writing, even cooking is where people turn when they want to express creativity, or after their day job career falters. Social media and self-distribution add to the clutter. Not every book is worth reading. Not every song worth listening to It’s supply and demand. It’s noisy. But, it’s hard to cut through all the noise. A friend of mine — a known music producer — once said that since the gatekeepers were marginalized there is more music out there than ever before, and that 80% of it should never have never been released. Elitist? Maybe. But, if I can’t find it, I can’t buy it. To make matters worse, most consumers do not want to pay anything for anything. That’s what’s happening to you. Social media has almost no data on ROI. The rest of what most emerging authors, musicians do cannot break through in any meaningful way. That’s too bad. From the music side, I have some idea of what I’m missing. From the reading side, I have no idea of what I’m missing.


    1. In this case, one decision (which made perfect sense) had an unfortunate trickle-down effect. The musicians at the event had previously sold their CDs and merchandise in an alcove around the corner from the authors. The musicians (quite reasonably) asked if they could sell their merch near the performance venue instead, which left the alcove empty. Despite the fact that there was signage pointing to the authors, the positioning was such that anyone who poked their nose around the corner would only see the empty space. Ergo, it was easy to assume that nothing was going on past that point.

      Discoverability is indeed key, and if the situation is set up so that a person would have to make effort to discover something, when there are readily discoverable things at other parts of the event, well … we can draw our own conclusions. I’m told that sales in the artists’ bazaar, which is all juried, hand-made arts of various sorts, were up 40 percent.

      We also jury our authors, and the authors provide 60-70 percent of the programming at this convention. This was a truly unfortunate situation.


      1. And, you didn’t fix that on the first day? Arrrgh, artists. Y’all need management. That would never happen on our tours. My laser stare would have everybody jumping. 😤😖


      2. We had hoped that the signage and some slight changes to layout in our area would help.

        It didn’t. There wasn’t a lot we could do because we aren’t in charge of logistics for the event. :-/


      3. Wholeheartedly concur, and we as the authors (even though myself and one other person are part of the event staff) were privy to NONE of that until we got on-site on opening day.

        We are moving to a new location next year, with a new event chair to boot, and have been promised by that individual that we will no longer be shunted off away from the action as we have been in the past. I have already decided to leave staff after next year’s event and am working with a transition team to make sure that our contributions continue … but I just don’t need the extra headaches that we had this year (this was not the only one …). If I come back, I just want to sell books, do a couple of panels, etc.


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