I could question the wisdom of having held Wondercon over Easter weekend, especially since Sunday is traditionally “kid’s day” at conventions, but it didn’t seem to hurt attendance, and the drive home was surprisingly painless. Here then is my final installment about being a neophyte creator/exhibitor at the con.
We ran out of bookmarks early on in the day, and I began to panic as that moment seemed to coincide with a lack of further sales. We started with a thousand, and now had none. Now I know that perhaps 9 out of 10 of what we handed out probably goes into the trash sooner than later, it at least affords an opening of communication with a potential buyer, and makes them contemplate, if even for an instant some of the art and copy you are selling. As it turns out, even without bookmarks the lull in sales didn’t last forever. We sold 13 more books throughout the course of the day, this time all to total strangers, or should I say new friends, bringing us to a grand total of 50 books and 2 CDs sold, 3 books swapped for other comics, and a total of 40 e-mail addresses collected!
Along the way, I met a lot of very cool people and I started to get a sense of some of the kinds of people my book seemed to appeal to: teenage girls, men and women around my age, and hispanic males in their twenties and thirties, all seemed to be more receptive.
As I refined my pitch through a myriad of variations, failures, and the occasional success, I started to develop some subtle nuances that seemed to work well: hand gestures to guide the listener to the art that illustrated the part of the story I was describing, and the perfect place for a dramatic…pause.
I also noted that people standing around talking to you with an interested look on their face begets more people doing the same, as does someone buying your book. I guess it’s that old adage that no-one wants to eat at an empty restaurant.
Also interesting was that several attendees pointed out to me that Grant Morrison is from Glasgow, and that he might be interested in a story based on one of the more bizarre historical occurrences in his home town. That hadn’t occurred to me, but now I think they have a valid point.
My son Calvin for his part managed to find plenty of things he loved: from the Teen Titans Go! TV show, to the Lego Batman movie, to the Chris Francis children’s book we Performancebought him, “How to Sneak Your Monster into School.”
At one point a small chap in a Tae Kwon Doe uniform accosted me as I had just returned to the booth from a break with an accusatory “Where is she?”
It took me a moment that he meant my wife, who had been watching the booth, and that he had come back specifically to show her his puppet. I offered to snap a picture of it and promised to show it to her, which seemed to satisfy him. Good thing too, as I later found out that at 7 years old, he’s already a black belt!
At the end of the day, after a quick look around the dealer’s room floor (it takes a while to get used to seeing life in three moving dimensions after your world has been virtually framed by the perspective of your booth for three days), it was time to pack up and head out. Whereas our move-in had been a fairly orderly ritual of loading your materials onto pallets that were then fork-lifted by the union crews and dropped off at your booth, everyone in the dealers room scrambling to leave at once made for a bit more chaotic combination of forklifts whizzing by as exhibitors also hurriedly hand carried out materials even as they started to close the bathrooms!
A big thanks to Rich Johnston and the rest of Bleeding Cool for giving me the chance to share my perspective on what it’s like to make the big leap from being a fan/attendee, to being a creator/exhibitor. For any of you who may have read my posts I hope they may encourage you to follow your vision and do the same.
As I sit here back in Hollywood, physically and emotionally drained, I can’t help but feel my initial foray was a success. The raw capitalism of laying your art on the line to throngs of strangers with the prospect of immanent rejection at any moment was a little intimidating, but not as scary or stressful as you might imagine in actual practice.
I’m looking at a long to do list: starting a fan page on Facebook, launching a Kickstarter campaign, submitting a package to Diamond, doing that thing I used to do…what was it…oh yes, sleep. Now I wonder if it’s too late to get a table at the Long Beach Expo…
David Blake Lucarelli is the writer/creator of the Children’s Vampire Hunting Brigade, a four issue mini-series inspired by the real life incident of the Gorbals vampire and described by film director Joe Doughrity as “Buffy meets S.E.Hinton’s The Outsiders.” You can read the first 11 pages online at cvhb.net