Diva Interview: Rick Miles Creator of Penned Con St. Louis
Independent book conventions are growing at an astronomical rate. There is one popping up almost every month across the country. I was excited to learn that one was planned next year for my hometown of St. Louis. Then the thought came to me: How do these conventions come about and how effective are they for indie authors. I welcome Rick Miles, co-creator along with his wife author Amy Miles, of Penned Con St. Louis to our blog today to offer some insight on this exciting thing known as Penned Con!
What made you want to organize your own book convention in St. Louis?
Amy and I used to live about sixty miles from St. Louis, and we thought it deserved a shot to show everyone what an amazing city it is. Amy has signed books at many events over the past year, and we really wanted to host our own. It all fell into place quite well. As a family we had already partnered with Action for Autism a non-profit charity based in St. Louis. After speaking with the folks at Action for Autism, we founded the Penned Con Scholarship Fund—10% of all ticket sales will go toward the fund to help one family send their autistic child to The Howard Park Center in St. Louis.
How effective do you think book conventions are at helping indie authors get noticed and sell books?
Book signings and conventions are huge for indie authors. They are a great way to meet fans but also network with other authors, bloggers, graphic designers, publicists, formatters, editors etc. The events actually start becoming a bit of an addiction; there is always a great buzz in the room.
What kind of promotion does it take to get the word out about Penned? Do you rely solely on social media or do you find other venues valuable?
Of course, social media is a massive part of getting the word out about Penned Con. Facebook and Twitter are usually our first ports of call, so to speak, when we have news to share. Right now we are in the middle of contacting libraries, schools, colleges, local radio and TV stations, newspapers, indie bookstores, local writing groups and businesses based within the St. Louis area.
We’re also working on promo posters now that will be displayed at Penned Con and around the St. Louis area closer to the event date.
Do you think bloggers attending book conventions are a big asset for authors or is the event mainly for fans?
Bloggers are absolutely key to authors overall success. Authors love bloggers and it’s really important they attend events such as Penned Con. You find yourself talking to bloggers a lot via social media so it’s great to finally meet them face to face.
It’s fantastic to see so many authors, fans, and bloggers in one room.
Where do you see the future of book conventions for indie authors and bloggers?
Book conventions are growing by leaps and bounds. Just a couple years ago it seemed there were only a few indie author events, and now there seems to be one almost every month. In 2014 Amy and I are attending fourteen events, it’s going to be a hectic year but we’re going to get to meet a bunch of great people.
We see the continued growth of the events and the growth of bloggers. There is always going to be a huge demand for both, and they go hand in hand. We’re seeing events being planned for 2015. In fact, authors are already contacting us about the waiting list for Penned Con 2015. It’s just amazing.
Tell us about the authors you have lined up for Penned.
We are very lucky to have a long list of super-talented authors, among which are Jasinda Wilder, Abbi Glines, and Hugh Howey as our keynote speakers. Our vision for Penned Con was to bring together aspiring writers, up and coming authors, and established household names in one room for a weekend to share knowledge, experience, and advice with book lovers from all genres.
We’ve managed to pick up some great sponsors too for Penned Con. They include Amy Miles Books, Smashwords, P51 Creative, Silkworm, Red Coat PR, Schlafly Brewery, Okay Creations, and Mark My Words.
Along with that we also have several bloggers that are signing up to be sponsors.
The buzz is growing around Penned! Tell us some last thoughts for us to share with our followers.
We have two days full of book signings, Q&A session,s and an award ceremony. We want to see as many people as we possibly can at Penned Con to help with raising the funds for Action for Autism and show readers and fans what an awesome city St. Louis is.
We have big plans for 2015, which will be revealed in Spring of 2014.
Right now, early bird tickets are still on sale for only $20 per person for both days. As of January 1st tickets will increase to $35 per person per day.
I’m so impressed Penned Con St. Louis is not only helping indie authors but also helping autistic children by sponsoring the charity, Action for Autism. I urge everyone to attend this convention to meet your favorite authors and to support a good cause. You can check out the rest of the authors attending as well as any additional information at the Penned Con website, Facebook, and Twitter.
About Rick and Amy Miles
Rick Miles was born and raised in Ivinghoe, England. He moved to the U.S. in 2003 to be with his wife Amy.
He is the owner and founder of Red Coat PR, a public relations firm for indie authors that is based in South Carolina. Prior to Red Coat PR, Miles was the Vice President of an international Risk Management company specializing in strategic and financial risks as well as brand and brand recognition.
When he’s not responding to e-mails or brainstorming ideas for his clients, he can be found supporting his beloved soccer team, Chelsea FC, or fishing with his son and wife.
Amy Miles has been a carbaholic since birth and is hopelessly addicted to Frozen Cokes. When she’s not chatting with fans on Facebook she can be found goofing off with family, traveling, or stomping her husband at golf. She is an obsessive writer and an avid reader who loves to chat about all things books.
Her teen paranormal romance books, Forbidden, Reckoning and Redemption, have been on several of Amazon’s Top 100 lists as well as best seller lists in both America and the UK.
Want to know what she is currently working on? Check out her website, Amy Miles Books.