Kitchener Comic Con 2018

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…

The Good

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!

This knight looked awesome, too!

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.

The Bad

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).

The Ugly

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.

The Amazing

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!

Vendors

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!

 

Next up: Kitchener Comic Con!

On March 3rd and 4th I’ll be at Kitchener City Hall for Kitchener Comic Con! It runs from 11am to 8pm on Saturday, and 11am to 4pm on Sunday. With my full trilogy out, I’m hoping to do really well.


Some good friends have offered to bring the prototype of my board game, Wizards’ War, to Origins this year. I was so surprised when they offered… with the board game design nights at the local game cafe falling apart months ago, I haven’t done much work on it. But now I have a deadline, and I’m going to have to get some work done on it.

On the plus side, there isn’t too much that needs to be done… I have all the art for the cards, so I just need to fit that to the standard poker card size template, and write out some descriptions, which shouldn’t take long. I also need to finish designing the larger board, order it, and cut out the hexagons. That last part will be the biggest part of the job, as slicing out the hexes isn’t easy, and requires a lot of fiddly work. I’ll look into it more and see if there’s a way to get them pre-cut to save me the headache.


And before you worry that the game will pull me away from my writing (I ran a poll this month and the majority overwhelmingly want me to continue writing book 4), I’ve been writing, too. I shattered the 75,000 word mark on A Queen’s Edict, and also started writing a new project, which will be a stand alone sci-fi novel. At least, that’s my intent. If I had a bunch of people banging down my door for more, I could continue with it, I’m sure.

What are the two books about? I’m glad you asked!

A Queen’s Edict begins almost 450 years after the conclusion of A Hero’s Birth. Grace, Sardo, and Traithaius Strongblade are siblings living in Stowenguard, and on the night of Trai’s 16th birthday, they are summoned to meet the Queen. From there, they embark on a vague quest, seeking to fulfill a prophecy that might be about them, but it’s hard to tell. Even the mission is ill-defined, but they have been assured that they are to destroy the evil Lord Torrak, King of the South.

The sci-fi story, which lacks a title at this point, revolves around the discovery of an alien that’s been frozen in the arctic. With the glaciers melting, it’s found and hauled off for analysis. It appears to be closely related to humans, a potential missing link…

I’ve only written the prologue to the sci-fi story at this point, clocking in at 900 words. There’s no timeline to get it done. It’s just something fun to work on as an aside when I don’t feel like working on my other projects. It’s like procrastinating, but still working.

Kitchener Comic Con 2017

My last convention for the year is my favourite one… Kitchener Comic Con – #3KCC2017 (although I might be getting roped into another con in November – we’ll see)

The Good

Disclaimer: I was asked to help fix up some writing content for KCC this year, and was given a table in Artist Alley as compensation. Special thanks to Ronald Hoppe for that! Hopefully next year won’t be so chaotic leading up to the event, and we will have time to get everything cleaned up well in advance!

I showed up late, like I’m some sort of big shot celebrity (really, I drive a 2010 Dodge Grand Caravan that’s dying (seriously? Only 7 years old, with under 90,000km on it, and it’s dying? No more Dodges for us!), and my wife scheduled a test drive for a new (for us) set of wheels for the same morning, and being able to get places took priority). There were a few open tables in Artist Alley, and I was told to take my pick. I got a pretty sweet spot, front and centre near the entrance.

My usual way of going about cons is to set up my table, take a photo, share it on Google Plus (no Facebook on my phone, thanks), and get to work … sitting there, engaging people who stare at my books for long enough that I figure they’re interested.

The photo had to wait. In the first 45 minutes of the con, I sold 6 books and a poster, which is definitely a record for me. I wish I could say that the insane pace kept up all day, but at least there was steady traffic until about dinner time.

One of the students from my lab came down to check out the con. Although she lives a couple blocks from Kitchener City Hall, she hadn’t heard that Kitchener had a Comic Con, so when I told her, she really wanted to come down and check it out.

There were a ton of awesome cosplayers, and I had a great chat with Judge Brown. He’s writing a book, and flying high with it, so that’s awesome! I draw on other writers having fun with their writing like some kind of psychic vampire. It’s invigorating to hear about others having a great time!

I also saw Sarah WaterRaven, who I met at GenreCon. We had a panel together on writing, and she stopped by to chat. She was at KCC as “The Press,” doing interviews for the We Got The Geek podcast, and she wanted to talk to me! Normally something that momentous would hit “The Great” section at the end, but believe it or not, there’s something even better coming up! Even so, this was a major highlight for me. She also asked if I’d be interested in attending another con in November (and also mentioned Ad Astra, which I’ve heard about a few times now, and I’ll probably attend next year).

There were also LARPers (Live Action Role Players) in attendance from Alura Larp. Colton Schug stopped by to chat with me in the quiet hours after 5pm on day 1. If you’re in the Niagara/Hamilton area and interested in LARP, check them out!

At final count, I sold 13 books and one poster. Considering my usual 1-2 sales per month on Amazon, that’s some pretty great outreach. On the second day I also had a lot more people take business cards, saying they wanted to order ebooks. So if that happens, the second day will have been even more worthwhile. But I never count those sales before they happen, because more often than not those cards don’t actually lead to sales.

The Bad

I hate to say this, but I’m not sure it made sense to have this as a two day event. It felt quiet compared to last year. Aside from the hectic start I had on day 1, it was pretty slow the rest of the time, with a few little spurts of activity. After how crazy it was last year, I was expecting more people to come through this year. Not sure why it didn’t happen. From posts I was seeing on Facebook, they were getting attention from the media. Don’t get me wrong, I can’t complain after selling a lot of books (for me). I just expected it to be busier, and I heard some other vendors saying the same thing.

The Ugly

I don’t think I’d say anything was ugly about this con. I love KCC. I’ve attended two years running now, and it’s been good to me both times. I’ll definitely go again.

The Great

I had a milestone moment that I need to share with you all. Seriously, this is the kind of thing that writers live for.

On day one I had a young guy (I won’t mention him by name, since he’s a minor, but he knows who he is) approach my table and start talking to me about my books. He was really enthusiastic, and I had a lot of fun discussing my stories with him. While chatting, he would ask me if I had various things in my stories – demons, necromancers, elves, holy knights, ents. The only thing I said no to on that list was the ents, but I think he’ll be pleasantly surprised with the ending of A Noble’s Quest (The Empire’s Foundation Book 1), because I forgot there’s a scene where there’s something ent-like. Not an ent exactly, but probably close enough to please him.

Anyway, he purchased A Noble’s Quest, A Wizard’s Gambit (Empire’s Foundation Book 2), Demon Invasion, and the poster for A Hero’s Birth!

After the convention and unwinding at home with a movie, I checked my e-mail to find he’d contacted me to ask if he could talk about my books on his YouTube channel. He signed off saying he’s my biggest fan.

Seriously.

I have a biggest fan (who isn’t my daughter). I’m going to have to sit back and let that sink in for a while.