Gang we’ve talked before about doing author events and conferences, but it never hurts to get new perspectives.
And they aren’t always positive.
Friend of the blog Amanda Byrd told me about her bad experience at a recent event, and I asked her to share some details with you – not because I want to embarrass her or scare you, but because WE ALL make mistakes, and sometimes you’ll pick up a tip you might not have thought of otherwise.
Things I’ve Learned from Tabling My First Comic Con – Amanda Byrd
This is my first guest post, so bear with me. I, like Dan, live in Tampa, FL. I’m a 35 year old kid/nerd/geek (nerd and geek are not synonymous) and have published 6 books, including 3 novellas that are now rebranded and re-released with a 4th included. I’ve been writing for about 2 years now. The omnibus is urban fantasy/sci-fi and my new novel releasing January 5, 2018 is dark urban fantasy.
I decided to give MegaCon Tampa Bay a try this year to see how it went.
I ordered 20 copies of my now omnibus (it’s 4 novellas squeezed into one with a new cover and all that fun stuff). Let me be the first to tell you: NO Artist Alley tables are cheap. At ANY con. Luckily, a friend and I had decided over a year ago to split the table.
There are a lot of catches to tabling cons.
- You have to pay extra for certain things like convention center WiFi ($20/day, NO),
- parking (obviously),
- extra exhibitor passes,
- and the list goes on.
I found out by day 2 of the con that I should not have split a table with this friend because our genres are way too different. Plus, I’m and Indie and he’s not anymore. There were other factors I won’t get into here, that made it an undesirable experience.
I think the worst part was the lack of communication from the owners of the con.
I know it’s normal to get your booth assignment a week beforehand, but these guys gave it to us 3, yes 3, days before the first day. Then they changed how we were supposed to enter, as exhibitors, twice.
Day 3 didn’t exist for me because I chose
due to those circumstances I won’t go into,
not to go.
I spent weeks preparing for this con. Promo cards, stickers for sale, and a banner were all purchased as well. We did NOT have anything to hang my normal (2×5) banner on. No backdrop, nothing. They wanted me to pay extra to have the designer set one up. No.
So I’m going to put this in list form, to make it a bit easier.
- If you plan to split a table with someone, try to have that someone be of the same genre (or can assist you and teach you how to sell if you’re bad at selling yourself like I am).
Bring your own foods, drinks, etc. As an exhibitor, security allows this.
- Make sure you know the past year’s attendance and the current celebrity lineup (celebs greatly affect attendance).
- Don’t overspend on promotional materials. I did and won’t do it again. I’m now giving away promo cards that have contact info and stickers with the purchase of a book.
- I’ve currently got 1 book available (Amazon currently says otherwise until I have that fixed). I take up about 3 feet of a 6 foot table.
Have an email list sign up form on your table! Just because people don’t buy does NOT mean they don’t want to learn about or connect with you. Email lists are a great way for readers and perspective readers to get to know you and your work.
- Cons last about 9 hours for a full day. Be prepared to wake up early for no other reason than to get a good parking spot close to the venue. No one wants to haul 5-10 lbs of anything far distances.
- Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. I cannot stress this enough. Wear what you want to project as your “persona”, if you will. I highly recommend sneakers because the floors are concrete and you will be in pain from your feet up.
- Ask other authors who have tabled the specific con how it was. I schmoozed with other vendors and authors during the con, too, which helped me feel better about doing so badly because they were too. Sure, my friend sold a lot, but it was nice to know even the most popular comic book artists didn’t do so well.
If you don’t sell, don’t blame yourself unless it really is your fault. Don’t be constantly on your phone/tablet/etc. because you lose the opportunity to talk to people.
- Solidify your elevator pitch and make sure anyone helping you has it down also. Nothing makes a potential reader walk away faster than someone stuttering their way through it or if you can’t quickly tease your work.
- People DO judge books by their cover, so make sure yours is on point with your book. I prefer illustrated covers and use them for my work. Nothing turns me away from a book faster than a terrible cover (the Dexter series is the only exception because I love his character and Jeff Lindsay’s style of writing. This also may stem from my adoration of R. A. Salvatore and his now former <insert hysterical crying fits here> cover artist, Todd Lockwood. Thanks Hasbro.).
These are all the tips I can currently remember, but if you have any other questions, feel free to shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Last, a very, very special thanks to Dan for allowing me to guest post my experience and tips! I hope I was able to help even one person. Thanks for having me!!