Why be an exhibitor at a comic book convention?
Time and time again I get asked by people why they should exhibit their independent comic book(s) at a convention. Some people think it’s beneath them, some think it’s above them. Some people don’t want to travel, others don’t want to spend the money. In any case it’s crucial as a comic book entrepreneur to exhibit at them and here are a few quick reasons why.
There are armies of people that go to comic cons nowadays and the easiest way to reach them and tell them about your book is here. You might be on some digital platform or on a shelf in a few stores, but your book is just sitting there until someone opens it up or downloads one. At a con you are there first hand with your book. You can pitch your wares and story ideas to people passing by. Maybe it’s just catching eye contact with a passerby. Maybe it’s getting that one person to leave with your book in their hand, when a second ago they were ready to put it down. In either case you are there to give that extra push that your book doesn’t get sitting on some shelf or by some digital distributor.
It’s the easiest way to meet people. Do you remember the tag line from the movie field of dreams, “if you build it they will come”? Think along those lines “if you exhibit they will see you”. I not just talking about customers here, I’m talking vendors, printers, podcasters, publishers, artists, writers, etc. all of these people are under one roof at one time. Either they will see you, or you will find them. In any case you have an opportunity to meet with someone face to face as opposed to wait for a response from an email.
Once you have the network going on with other con goers, you will find information comes easier to you that it did before. Maybe your booth neighbor is an artist who can show you techniques that you may not have learned in class, on your own, or through YouTube. You might get info on which printer other indie’s use and actually hold the book they are talking about not just look at it in a picture. Better yet locals will tell you where the best (or cheapest) places to eat are when you’re new to town. Hey if not for a con attendee I never would have found out about Portillo’s in Chicago. Don’t tell anyone but as a New Yorker I’ll take their hot dogs over Nathan’s.
Getting into stores
As an exhibitor you have an opportunity to walk the floor before any of the attendees do, some cons even set aside professional time. This is your opportunity to find retailers who have come from out of town, or out of state and get them to leave with your book. Even if one retailer leaves with a few copies of your comic book count that as a win. Who knows how far you would have had to go to get to their store and sometimes the cost of the trip does not make up for the sale.
It gets you out of the house!!!!! How many of you get home from your day job and either tend to your family or go right to work on your comic book? Once you get a chance to sit down at your computer screen or your drawing table, you cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Maybe you turn the tv,radio or podcast on in the background so you can absorb as much information as possible. Next thing you know you’ve either passed out in your seat or realize you have to be at work in 2 hours. Here’s an even worse scenario, on your full day off from the day job you think you’ll get a chance to gain some ground on your comic book and your body ends up crashing. Your body is so tired from the rest of the week it has no choice but to recoup on this day, and you don’t get any work done. Now this is a weekly cycle and unfortunately it happens to many independent comic book creators. When you started working on your comic book you thought it would be fun, and it’s not anymore, it’s become….work. Jump into a convention for a weekend with people who are going though the same thing you are, enjoy your time with them. Have some laughs, tell some late night deadline stories or trade some printer nightmares and live a little. Have people buy your book and leave with a smile on their face. I guarantee you will remember why you got into making comic books in the first place, and why you had so much fun with it to begin with.
Are there more reasons?
Of course there are these are just a few basic but important ones ( for me) that I think you should know about. If you have more thoughts about this reach out to us on twitter @Indiecomicsourc .