You know what time it is! Or maybe you’re new around here and don’t. Long story short, any time I attend a con, I like to write up a “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” report, partly so I remember what a con was like, so I know if I want to go again in future years, partly in case other people are wondering if that con might be good to go to as a vendor. Your mileage may vary, depending on what you’re selling…
Kitchener Comic Con is the biggest convention I go to, with hundreds, and probably thousands of people coming through the doors. It’s a free event, so you get some really interesting experiences with people wandering through who really have no idea what’s going on. They just come in to see what’s going on, and in some cases you get people coming to get out of the cold for a while. Suffice it to say, you can have some interesting conversations with colourful people! For instance, I had one guy who might’ve been around my age walk by, and I did my usual, “Hi, how are you?” and he stopped, looked at me, and said, “You’re the nicest person in this whole place. You’re the only person who’s asked me that since I got here.”
Well, shucks. I may not win any “Pushy Salesman of the Year” awards, but I’ll take, “Nicest person in this whole place” any day!
There was another older gentleman who reminded me a great deal of my wife’s father, in terms of looks. He stopped by and talked to me about this book collection he kept at home, with some original copies… misprint copies… all sorts of things. He thought I might know something about appraising them (because I sell books?) and I suggested he might try an antique store, as they’d be able to at least point him in the right direction, if they didn’t want them. We had a nice long chat, and he showed me an “original hard cover” of Attack of the Clones published by Lucas Books, written by R. A. Salvatore. I doubt that particular volume will ever be worth anything, since I don’t expect any Star Wars merchandise after Return of the Jedi will ever be worth anything, but some of the other books he talked about sounded really interesting… some of them dating back to the early 1900’s. I wish him well and hope he finds someone who has some knowledge about appraising such things.
Okay, Ryan, that’s all well and good, but how did sales go?
In a word… adequate. I mean, I do editing work for the newsletter for KCC in return for a table, so anything I sell starts making profits for me right away. Ron Hoppe was very good to me, and gave me a whole table, so I got to showcase the prototype of my board game, Wizards’ War. That generated a fair bit of interest, and I got several e-mail addresses to add to my mailing list for when I launch the Kickstarter!
Oh, sales? Right! While I was hoping to do better this year since I have my full trilogy out now, I never took into consideration that there are tiers of spending at conventions. This was something I spoke about at length with another vendor, who pointed out that he wasn’t selling big ticket items, but had quite a few smaller ones selling. As a free event, a lot of people come as a family, and the kids are looking for something cute and shiny, not really giving their parents time to browse themselves. Also – many of us parents have been there – parents prefer to get their kids something over themselves, anyway, so they might not even be looking. For many, coming out to KCC is a big deal to see all the wonderful cosplayers, and there were many in attendance! Chewbacca, Han, the Predator, Deadpool, Spiderman, Poison Ivy, Elsa, Chun-Li… just to name a few!
So having more books might have been almost detrimental. I mean, there was a ton of interest, and I went through dozens of business cards, but if you’ve done a lot of conventions, you know giving out business cards rarely translates into sales. A couple of people assured me they would definitely look for my books later, and while I hope that happens, I don’t count my unhatched chickens. Having three books out for $70 total probably looks like a big investment (it is!). I just don’t think there’s a way around that, except to start doing bigger shows where people are paying to get in the door and are looking for stuff to buy. I really like doing local conventions, but it’s time to step up to play with the big boys and girls at a larger convention, I think.
On day 1 I sold 3 books, and on day 2 I sold 4 (three of which were to one person at the end of the day). It was tough. I talked to a few people who came around my table when they first got there, really liked what they heard, but said they needed to check out the rest of the convention before making any purchases… but they’d probably be back. While I’ve had luck with that sort of thing coming through at other conventions, it just didn’t materialize this time. You win some, you lose some. I covered the cost of parking and gas, and came out with a bit extra. I had some great networking, treated myself to some vendors’ wares, and had a pretty good time in general.
2 out of 2 cons I’ve attended this year had Trouble with Tables. When I got to KCC, they hadn’t gotten all the tables they needed. It wasn’t a long wait, fortunately, so I was set up and ready to go before the doors opened. Sometimes conventions feel like barely controlled chaos, and this one certainly had some weird stuff happen. For instance, I got to the con on Sunday and was told I was late… and I certainly wasn’t the only one. Most vendors were coming in for 11am. I remembered seeing somewhere that the show started at 11am, and ran until 4pm. But when I tried to find the information on the mobile website, I didn’t see anything. The website for KCC is bad. Like, half the time when I try to visit it, I’m redirected to some other site that looks and sounds like a virus. But when I close that, and try again, I usually get to the actual website on the second try. Even once you’re there, it’s a bit of a madman’s paradise, with a lot of stuff going on and the information you’re looking for is buried. Anyway, I just checked on my desktop (got that virus-looking page first again!!!), and it does say 11am-4pm. So I dunno why anyone would have thought it started at 10am. And then they tried to say the con went until 5pm, but the vendors were all like, “What? This ends at 4pm.” And a lot of people (myself included) packed up at 4. I’d already told my wife the show ended at 4, and the con was pretty dead by that point anyway, so I wasn’t going to drag it out another hour. I was ready to go home and get some dinner. Conventions always wipe me out (but in a good way).
Seriously, that website needs a total overhaul. The glitchy landing page is a major cause for concern, as I could see people panicking and not trying again.
I was approached by Steveo Torell from Heads or Tails Gaming, who invited me to demo Wizards’ War at his shop in Brantford, and he’s interested in stocking the game when it comes out! I still can’t believe that conversation happened. After telling him the basics of the game, he said he had some people who frequent his shop who would definitely be interested in it.
Also, The Del Morgado Show was my neighbour, and Del interviewed me a couple times. It appears that Del has fans in Germany or somewhere around there, because I picked up a couple sales from the German Amazon site! Always love reaching the international audience!
I picked up this little guy from Artisan Maille, who were right across from me! Brad and I have been friends for about a year now, having first met each other at Tri-Con last year. When I saw he was bringing these little scale dragons, I knew I had to get one. I have a healthy collection of red dragon items (maybe I’ll get them all together and take a picture some time), and this little guy is the perfect addition! It’s a pin, so I was wearing it on my pocket during the convention.
Last but certainly not least, I hit a MAJOR milestone with this show… for the first time since I started keeping track, I am now in the black!!! That’s right! Out of the hole! Any money I make going forward is going to be saved up for cover art and editing, and buying new stock. I’m off work tomorrow because I have a doctor’s appointment out of town, but when I’m home I’m going to go through my stock and see how I’m doing. I think I’ve got a fair bit left. So if there’s something you want, just let me know and I’ll set it aside for you. I can’t tell you how excited I am to finally see positive numbers come out of book sales. Thank you to everyone who’s helped me get to this point. I couldn’t have done it without your help. Sure, I do the writing, but without you guys buying my books and telling your friends, I couldn’t have gotten here. So thank you again, a million times!
I like to point the spotlight at other great vendors I meet at these things, so here goes!
Artisan Maille – makes all sorts of amazing chainmail stuff.
Genesis: Battle of Champions – collectible card game. We’ve started the ball rolling on a future collaboration!
The Del Morgado Show – radio show every couple weeks on Mondays at 9pm. (Warning: Adult language)
Heads or Tails Gaming – gaming shop in Brantford.
Daryl J Ball – Author. He’s been supporting my work for a few years now! I met him at the second KCC, where he picked up A Noble’s Quest, and he’s been coming to see me ever since.
Williams Photography – I actually met William because he was selling comic books, not for his photography, but he’s a nice guy and maybe you need a photographer in the Cambridge area!
Dan Watt – Author. He’s got a medieval spoof novel called Dragon (The Emerald of Light) that I picked up. He says it’s a comedy in the vein of Monty Python, so I’m interested to see what that looks like!