In the last article, I talked about the psychology of people who attend comic conventions and how and when to engage them. This time around I will focus on a variety of subjects to help you prepare for your first comic convention behind a table, including defining what makes a con a success for you, people asking if you made your work, giving away free milk, and trading work!
DEFINE WHAT MAKES A CON A SUCCESS OR NOT
When you sell your work at conventions, you will want to define what makes that con a success for you. (Even if you don’t WANT to, you WILL still do it anyway subconsciously.) Success could be defined by meeting a specific dollar amount in sales, or to sell a specific amount of comic books, or something simple like how many cans of soda you can consume during the time span of the con without belching every two minutes. Be realistic with your goals, don’t go into your first convention and set the goal that you’ll sell out everything on your table. You are letting yourself up for a fall if you do.
For myself, my goal for the first couple of conventions was simply to make back enough money to pay for my table fee. It was realistic and I didn’t go in with high expectations, and I always left the con feeling like I accomplished something, even if my materials cost was no where near paid for.
DON’T EXPECT OTHER ARTISTS TO BUY YOUR WORK
You are all struggling together, so don’t expect other artists at the convention to buy your work. It’s nice if it happens, but don’t hope for it. Same can be said for the vendors as well.
WILL YOU TRADE ME THIS FOR THIS?
This applies to other artists as well as convention goers. Someone will always walk around asking to trade things for your work. You need to set your policy before hand so you are ready for when someone asks. Don’t take offense when they do, they’re just trying to wheel and deal with everyone there, often trading one artist’s work for another in artist alley. It’s only insulting if they try to offer you a pack of gum in exchange for your comic book. If that happens, feel free to rip them a new one, unless of course they’re a child, then you may want to cut them some slack.
DID YOU MAKE THIS?
This will be the number one question you will hear, at least it is for me. You can have a sign above your head with flashing lights showing your name and an arrow pointing down to you, and every object on the table has your name on it in bold type, but people will still ask you if you created it all. I don’t understand why it happens, but it does.
DON’T SELL THE COW IF YOU’RE GIVING THE MILK FOR FREE
This one goes to webcomic artists in particular. If people look at your work and get a hint it’s a webcomic, they will ask if it’s online to read. If you say yes, they won’t buy anything at your table. I learned this one the hard way with my FRIK comic. Early on I had all episodes for every volume online, thinking if someone liked it enough they would buy the books. Wrong. It wasn’t until the end of volume 3 where I realized what was going on.
What I do for my newer comic, HOLES IN IT, is only show the last five episodes on the website. Once a new one is posted, the oldest goes away. This way I can retain my online readership, and if someone really likes the five they see, they’ll buy the book to read the previous episodes. At least that’s the theory because as of this article’s posting, I am still in the process of getting volume one ready to print and it’s not for sale yet.
In next week’s article, I will talk about the perils of that most people want to buy at comic conventions. Stay tuned and thanks for reading!
“Did you make this?” and other miscellaneous convention topics to consider! by Todd Tevlin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.