Tuesday, October 01, 2013

The Con Game, Part One

Humble beginnings...

So you're sitting in your studio, probably working alone, as always, and hoping to strike it big one day.  You have some art to sell, or maybe even a comic book or, very ambitiously, a graphic novel, and you have a web site and you're wondering where the sales are.  You keep reading about people doing great at comic cons, and you're wondering "Maybe I should try selling my books at a comic con?"

That is a very good question, and something anyone trying to make it in the comics world should consider.  The answer isn't an easy 'yes', though.  Here are some things you need to consider first...

First of all, it is very hard to sell anything without a ton of marketing and promotion, which adds up to a lot of money, all of which could be wasted.  You need to ask yourself first, is this a business or a hobby?  If you see yourself as a business, then you need to be spending some advertising dollars. The first mistake many self styled business folk make is not putting money into a business.

Advertising is an entire discipline to itself, but advertising takes on all kinds of forms, including exhibiting at a comic con.

Second, be honest and ask yourself... is your stuff good enough?  Yes, you can sell stuff that is badly drawn if it's interesting enough, or sell good art with bad writing, but you'll do a lot better if you have a professional product that looks like it belongs out there.  If you have a comic book, it should look right at home in a comic book store.

So now, you're in business, you have a quality product, and you're getting nowhere with sitting at your computer all day on facebook.  Time to look into conventions near you.

The view from behind the table.

We've all heard of Comic Con International... the show is huge.  New York Comic Con is probably just as big.  Wizard World is producing mega pop culture events across the country.  SPX, APE, CAKE, Baltimore Comic Con, and probably a few others are out there running their own shows.  I'm not familiar with them all, but I've attended my share.  My point is, if you want to try a show, there should be one close to you.

And yes, the choice is "Choose a show near you".  Any show is going to have expenses, but unless you're already selling a ton of stuff on the internet, and to local shops, etc, you may not recover some of those costs, so right away reduce your travel costs.  It makes no sense to have your first show be 6 states away.  Ideally, you want something very local so you can skip the hotel costs as well, or be able to stay with friends or family.  Remember, a business is aimed at making money to support itself... it makes very little sense to spend $400 to make $50 in sales. (although sometimes it does, just don't make a habit of it.)

So, I'm saying this to you:  If nothing else is working, try selling at a comic-con near you.  The benefits are many, if you're prepared.  Meeting fans is the best part, listening to what they like, and seeing how they respond to your work.  If no one is buying, then you need to rethink what you're doing.  On the other hand, they may be eating your work up, and that's a great feeling.  There's also a chance of networking; meeting other creators, and maybe even editors or publishers.  It can happen. :0)

In Part II, I'll talk about what to do when you get to your next con... how to sell, how to display, what to do right, and what never to do!

See you then,    JOHN :0)

On my iPod?  Fish - A Feast of Consequences

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