Do You Cosplay?

Using cosplay to engage with your audience

It may be true that genealogy is the fastest growing hobby in the world, but for the teen and new adult group the clear winner is cosplay. And when you think about it, it totally makes sense. Being a new adult is all about defining and expressing yourself as individual, and finding your tribe, and cosplay offers participants a way to proudly wave their little geek flags for the world to see.

For those of you wondering what exactly cosplay is, here’s the jist: Cosplay is a performance artform that originated in Japan, and is a shortened form of the words costumed play. It started as a small counter-culture hobby that has now grown to be a worldwide phenomenon. It’s basically when you dress up as a character from a movie, book, or TV show you’re a fan of. But as a clarification, promotional items and cosplay are not necessarily the same thing. For example, wearing a shirt with your book name or cover is not cosplay unless you are intentionally trying to be meta like the TV show Supernatural does from time to time (seriously people, they have their own in-canon convention & fan fic).

To those unfamiliar with the phenomenon that is cosplay you may be wondering how on earth dressing up is going to help you engage with readers. Well here’s how:

We’re All Geeks Here

Since most of the live events I go to are anime- or comic-related, I am always in cosplay. I’m a hardcore costume lover and it offers me a fun way to share in the fandom with other fans. It is also a great way to break the ice with attendees and an easy way to bridge that, what do I say? gap with the peeps on the other side of the table.

That being said, I’m aware that not everyone is as extroverted as I am. Hell, I talk to random strangers in lines just so I don't have to deal with the silence. So for you shyer peeps, here are a few simple steps to ease into cosplaying and live events. Pick your favorite currently-airing TV show and cosplay as one of those characters. That way, when someone comes to your table you two can gush about last week’s episode of Doctor Who or Once Upon a Time instead of feeling like you have to launch into a pitch for your own books. After a bit, you’ll start to feel less anxious, and when you do mention your books, it will feel more like chatting with a friend then pitching a product. 

Hey there, Cyber Cowgirl

For those of you who don’t partake in the craziness that is live events, cosplay can still offer huge opportunities for reader engagement. You could run a cosplay contest in which readers can cosplay as something from your story world or any book world. Or create fake ads with fictional characters reviewing books. Or cosplay scenes from your books and use them for creative teaser posters. At a loss for ideas? Check out what others are doing in the fan communities you belong to (the G+ Hunger Games and Doctor Who communities totally rock this!).

Fan Service

The easiest way to, well, make it easy for your readership to play along and cosplay your characters is to provide them with the necessary info to actually pull it off. This could be a page on your website with complete descriptions of your characters, or a Pinterest board with everything related to your characters and story world, or a downloadable set of instructions to create your own set of daemon horns. I for one, know that the only way I was able to cosplay a Shadowhunter from Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instrument series was because the movie production company was kind enough to post a downloadable rune sheets to the web.

Cosplay, Not Just for Spec Fic

Even though this is a spec fic week I didn’t want to leave you Contemporary NA writers out. Even though your stories aren’t populated by the supernatural and the supertech, there are still ways you can incorporate cosplay into your live event arsenal. For example, you can wear things your characters would, like a piece of jewelry or a fake tattoo (they sell print your own temporary tattoo paper at most large office supplies stores). Or you can have something associated with them as a table prop or decoration.

Well, that’s it for now kitties. I hope you dare to be different, and join the crazy awesomesauce that is cosplay!

Post a Comment

  1. Love the idea of cosplaying characters from your favorite (or your own) books! Such a fun way to get into a story.

  2. I love seeing peeps really get into it. At the recent Time Lord Fest there were some amazing costumes. I've yet to fully dress up for a con yet, but I will!!

  3. I did a Thor-esque outfit when I went to The Dark World, but I've never done much costuming. Totally admire the people who do -- and who manage to build their costumes from scratch! Seriously amazing the detail and craftsmanship that goes into cosplay!

    1. Ya some of the cosplayers are beyond amazing. And most one them do make them from scratch because no patterns exist.

  4. Great post Kat!

    While cosplay is not for everyone (recovering introvert) I do like to see it. I think it's a super creative way to delve into characters. Gives readers opportunity to "meet" the characters too, if you go full throttle character-based cosplay.

    Good stuff!

  5. Fun post! Back in my natural blonde days, I always wanted to cosplay Cagalli from Gundam Seed.

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  7. My husband and I made Jack Skelington and Sally costumes a few years back. We wear them almost every Halloween to one event or another. We attended our first Comic Con this year in Salt Lake City,and while we didn't participate in the Cosplay contest, we did watch and learn so we could participate next year. I had never thought about trying to Cosplay characters in my books to reach fans, but I love meeting new people who share a common love of a character by dressing up that way, so it's a great idea. I love the idea of having people who Cosplay as the characters at book signings so readers can get pictures with the author and with the characters. Such a fun idea!

    1. I've never participated in a cosplay contest or masquerade myself but I do cosplay at every con we attend.

  8. When I started writing fiction I used to get really "into" the main POV character of my novel. I realized I'd gone to far, however, when I walked into a Michael's craft store, and found myself standing before two little four year old children. They took one look at me and began wailing in fear.
    I went home and tossed that wardrobe.


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