View Full Version : Advice needed: Convention tips

08-21-2016, 06:49 PM
My first published work will be out in February or March 2017. It is a creator owned, 3 issue limited series with IDW called, "The Night Owl Society" (see links in my sig) and I want to plan my con schedule to make best use of the three + months that the book is out.

1) Starting in February and going through the summer, which are the best cons to go to? I will go to as many in the D/FW area as I can, and I can afford to travel to 3-4 more out of the area if if they will be a good return on my investment.

2) As a writer, what should I have in my booth other than copies of the comic. Do t-shirts, and other merch sell? Or, should I limit my booth to books and art related to the comic?

3) Is there anything I need to sell my books myself at cons? (seller's certificate for sales tax, etc?)

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

08-26-2016, 02:00 PM
Since there have been no responses yet to this thread, I'll attempt to answer my own questions :-) Here are some of the cons I'm thinking of. In your opinion, which ones would be best for me in terms of exposure, finding an audience, selling books, etc. This is contains cons that according to a quick google search, are happening in march-April 2017 so that they coincide with the release of issue #1 of my book. Are there any that I am missing? Any input is appreciated:

Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle (Their artist alley deadline has passed. I'm on the waiting list)
C2E2 in Chicago
Wizard World in Cleveland
Wonder Con in Anehiem

These are big cons, so I'm not sure I can get in. If not, there are lots of smaller ones, but I'm not sure if they are worth it. If I can't make back my travel expenses, then I might as well just stick to local shows. Thoughts?

Steve Colle
08-27-2016, 12:19 AM
From my experience, the "draw" to the table at a convention is typically the artist. As a writer promoting your title, it would be better if you were not alone at the table, but rather had either the artist or someone from the publisher on hand. I've seen Ray Fawkes at the same convention two years in a row and he seems to mostly sit unattended, even though he is an accomplished comic artist himself.

Merchandise probably won't sell if there isn't previous audience identification to the product you're promoting (unless, of course, it's a really cool design, at which point sell the icon and then the premise of its association to your work). With merchandise, you may end up spending money on something that doesn't even sell for established creators and publishers, so think of the displays that others you have encountered in the past have done. I believe that speaking with other vendors about what sells for them will give you an indication of what may sell in general.

Artwork for sale is good only if the artist is on hand. They can sign it, explain it, talk about process, etc. As a writer having prints to sell, a common question would be "Did you draw this?", with their walking away once they hear you didn't.

Promotion can be accomplished through much less expensive manners, so at this point I would avoid the extenuating costs associated with booth fees at a larger event. Save your time and money for more surefire ways to get the word out.

From my experience.

08-27-2016, 03:01 PM
In a convention's table the only merchandise I want see are the printed books and having the writer's or authors signature on it if I buy the book.
Maybe some art related if it is for free. Cards to a website or place for online following.

08-27-2016, 06:49 PM
Thanks Steve and Scibbly. Good advice all around. I'm in driving distance to cons in Dallas, Houston, Austin and San Antonio, and I have a place to crash in each place. So, Texas cons will be cheaper since I don't have to fly or get a hotel. I'll stick to local cons for now.

My artist lives in Lithuania. So, having him here is not something that is practical at the moment.

And, I agree that having "just" the writer there is challenging. I have this fear that I will have copies of my book fanned out across the table just waiting for people to walk and show interest.

In the summer when all three issues have been released, I'll have more things to sell: issues #1-3, subscription variants for each of those three issues and a retailer variant for issue #1. That will make the booth more full and interesting, I hope. I also agree that free posters, or postcards would be good. I'll budget accordingly.

Thanks again for the advice.

08-28-2016, 01:54 PM
Have a quick, interesting answer to the question "What's your book about?" (you'll be hearing it a lot). In my experience you have a very short window before people's eyes glaze over and they go from listening interestedly to just politely humoring you. Hit 'em hard and fast. And don't try to be highbrow or philosophical. "It's about how people lock themselves in personal prisons, and the futility of trying to escape." No one wants to hear that. What they want is something like "Sigmund Freud fights Samurai werewolves in Hell." They want the hook. That's why a lot of creators try to insert the concept of the book right into the title ("Sigmund Freud in Samurai Werewolf Hell"). It's not very poetic, but it saves you a lot of work in the long run. And if you're not sure what your hook is, sit down and figure it out, pronto. Think like a carnival barker. If you were able to successfully pitch the thing to publishers, I'm sure you can pitch it to the audience too (the pitching never ends!).

Good luck! The book looks awesome!

08-28-2016, 03:16 PM
Thanks Bulletboy. I did two small local cons when the first version of the book was kickstarted. Plus, my LCS did a signing when the kickstarter version came out. I got pretty good at the short and long pitches. The short one is, "High School kids take on the mob when the police won't. It's the Breakfast Club meets the Sopranos." That last part usually gets a chuckle.

08-28-2016, 07:36 PM
That'll work!