Last week, I covered some of the things I really like about being an artist at comic cons, as well as some of my bad habits and hangups that I would like to improve, both for the sake of seeing better returns, and so convention attendees have a better experience interacting with me. My first big test came in the form of Cape Mini Con this past Saturday. While it wasn’t a record-breaking day for sales or anything like that, I did better at the Mini Con than I have at four out of the last five shows at which I’ve had a table. (I also found out later I sold a book to a Secret Service agent, which I thought was pretty cool.) I can’t say for sure whether or not my efforts to improve are responsible, but hey, at least they didn’t hurt. Let’s review my habits and hangups from last week and whether or not I was able to overcome them.
Overhype Mike and the Ninja Books, Underhype Mike and the Ninja Web Presence: FIXED
Compared to any convention in recent memory, I plugged the crap out of Mike and the Ninja’s web presence and handed out a lot more flyers in conjunction with the push. I haven’t checked my analytics, yet, and I’d like to give it a few more days in case more visitors trickle in, so I don’t have any solid figures on whether or not this push worked, statistically. However, I feel good about offering attendees a pressure-free option for checking out my work, rather than pushing the book first. Again, I don’t make enough money from book sales for that to be my focus—getting eyes on my work is far more important.
The Moral Ambiguity of Selling Books of Content Available Online for Free: FIXED
Since I did such a good job pushing the webcomic, this hangup became a non-issue. The webcomic was the first option I offered, and the books were available as the value-add for folks who really like the comic, or as a tangible alternative for readers who prefer physical media. It felt good and right to approach the convention in this manner, and more people are going to see these comics, as a result.
Lack of Approachability: SOMEWHAT BETTER
While I did a better job of not just saying hello to convention attendees, I didn’t quite engage them to the level I’d hoped for. I did get more flyers and business cards into their hands than I have in the past, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Still, this was a move in the right direction.
Don’t Bother the Celebrities: UNTESTED
This was a small show with no major celebrities (except for maybe Podzilla 1985 stars Seanán Young and Lindsey Wolfgong), so I didn’t have any hangups about approaching anyone else at the convention. I’ll have to revisit this at my next convention.
Not Enough Swag: BETTER
Like I mentioned earlier, more engagement meant better opportunities to offer takeaways to passers-by. Another swag strategy I used on Saturday that I did not mention last week was to focus on just a few freebies. At recent conventions, I have offered a flyer, a sticker, a business card, and two or three small prints of various pieces I have drawn. I think it may have been overkill—people weren’t sure what to take, or what was free to take. At the Mini Con, I only had the flyer, sticker, and business card, which meant less clutter on the table and more focused content. It seemed to help.
Another thing I noticed about getting more swag into people’s hands is that making improvements in other areas created a cascading effect of more and more freebies leaving the table. For instance, pushing Mike and the Ninja as a webcomic means handing out more flyers with the URL. Being more approachable means more opportunities to hand out materials. One positive change leads to another positive change.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun: I DIDN’T!
I had a great time at the Mini Con. I’m pretty tired these days, both from life in general and from life with a 10-month old, so my energy level was not quite where I would like it to be. But, I had a lot of fun talking to the attendees and the other vendors, trying out some new things with my table and presentation, and getting some work done during downtime. I even exhibited confidence in my work, which was a difficult adjustment to make, but pretty necessary, if you think about it.
Looking back, I think I did ultimately deliver as a vendor, but there is still more room for improvement. My next convention appearance won’t be for another six months, but I’m already looking forward to it and how I can keep doing better.
Also, maybe by then, I’ll have replaced my tablecloth. ARRGH!