Ten years ago I set up a large banner, held up by a homemade stand that itself was only upright because physics couldn’t bear to look at it. The banner itself had the name of my first comic accompanied by 90% white space and a tiny figure of the main character inexplicably peering in from one side.
My table itself had copies of our one issue, more empty space, and a folder of sketches I had done of characters owned by Marvel or DC.
But, man, was I excited to be on the other side of the table.
In the decade since I’ve made a lot more mistakes and still in many ways am trying to figure out what works best in the crazy alternate universe of comic conventions. What little wisdom and successes I’ve achieved is definitely built on a foundation of failure. Which isn’t a bad thing.
With all that said, here are some things I’ve learned that might help you if you’re getting ready to embark on your freshmen year of peddling your comic wares. So here’s 5 tips for setting up at your first comic convention. For those more experienced, feel free to add your own wisdom to the list.
Design a banner that is meant to be sat in front of – Remember you’re going to be blocking the bottom half of the image. All that cool stuff isn’t going to be seen by most people, so keep the eye-catching important stuff up top.
Don’t be a used car salesman – If you’re going to be serious about comics, self-publishing or otherwise, it’s a long-term commitment to be successful. Meaning, you’ll have to see all these people again. And again. And again. And that’s a good thing, because you’ll network and make friends and connections. So avoid all the gimmicky, flashy, loud stuff that tries to get attendees attention from a mile away. Also, don’t call me “Bri-guy.”
Have change ready – Seriously, I always forget this and have to try and find change on the fly from table neighbors. Have enough ones and fives and tens to actually sell the things you’re trying to sell. You know, like a business.
Have a variety of things available – At the very least have your book, prints, and original art. From my experience it seems a shows tends to fall into one of these three categories as far as sales go. And it can vary from year to year. So be ready. I’ve had shows where I’ve barely had a commission but prints bailed me out of it being a complete bust.
Say “hi” to people who stop and look at your stuff – I can’t believe I actually have to give this advice, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at an artist’s work and never been acknowledged as standing right in front of them. It’s just common courtesy for people who are human beings when approached by other human beings.
There’s probably a hundred other things I could list, but that’s enough to get you started. Hope this helps and see you at the con!