Recently I wrote an article on some of the reasons I feel independent comic books creators should be exhibiting at comic book conventions, in hopes it will benefit some people out there. I covered some of the basics that sometimes get over looked, even by myself. Now I want to get into some of the basic things a comic con exhibitor needs to do, to put them on the path to succeed.
1) Preparation begins at home…Create a checklist
This may sound like the simplest thing, and I bet you are probably giving me the ” Oh come on now” response as you are reading this right now. Rest assured being prepared and creating a checklist of everything you need saves you time and even though it’s cliche, time saves money. By creating a checklist and going over it, you are making sure you have everything you need before you leave the house. I can’t count the number of times that without a checklist I’ve had to drive back to the house to pick something up. Trust me that sucks when you are leaving on a 14 hour drive to Atlanta and you have to turn back a half an hour into the trip. Or worse yet, you are at the con and have to write up sale signs because the ones you printed up are still in the printer at home. Take a look at my checklist and use it as a guide to creating one yourself. You also just might find a thing or two you can add to your own.
2) Get a speaker other than yourself…create a sales team.
Some independent creators go to cons as a team and may not have to worry about this, others like me are not so lucky and may need the help. I am not part of a creative team that lives in the same neighborhood or city and can travel together. Sometimes I plan conventions in a city where one of my partners live, other times we may meet up at one, but that is few and far between. What I am trying to get at is when things get busy (and hopefully they do), you will need someone other than yourself who knows the material. Pitching a comic book to a new reader at a con is an art, you are not just trying to get a sale. You are telling a story without giving away THE story, in an effort to make money on the story.
There are times when you will need more than one of you to do that, so if you can, try to find someone or put together a team who can do this as well as you. Bring them to the convention with you, because when it does get busy you increase your chances at a sale by talking to the groups that have gathered by your table. Make sure they know about whatever sales deals you have going on, or how much your items cost. In a pich if there is someone trying to get a deal, a team member can make a deal where you don’t loose money as long as they know how much something costs. Oh but don’t bring someone who is just going to sit behind you and play pool on their iPhone, it does the exact opposite of what you are trying to achieve
3) Make your signage do its job
This is critically important for your convention success. Signage act like a billboard and not an advertisement. It’s main purpose is to attract attention and communicate a single, simple message. Make sure your graphics have a “hook” to them: something that ties it to your display or book. Every price sign I use at my booth is placed within the fallen stop sign that is in my logo for Unstoppable Comics. We are operating in a geek culture, and no matter how many steps of progress we make some geeks still feel shy or timid and may not approach your booth at a con even though they like your stuff. By creating the proper signage where they do not have to ask you how much something costs, all they have to do is give you the money for the comic book they want, you have created a doorway for them. That doorway gives the shy person to acknowledge they can afford that book without asking questions, and in a way you’ve made them comfortable. Hopefully you are observant enough to realize this and get them to leave with a smile on their face too. Look this is not the only example, but I remember what it’s like to be on the other side of the table. Ultimately your signage or graphics should draw visitors to your booth, once that happens you or your team can take over.
4) Create a digital press kit
Unfortunately some people will come to your booth and buy nothing, OH THE HORROR!!!All jokes aside this happens more often than not, but some will genuinely want to know more about your product. This is your chance to create sales down the line. Put together a digital press kit that has all of your comic’s contact info. It can be a digital video of your book with a personal message from you at a con, or it can contain a sample of you comic book or books. Keep it on some cloud server that you can easily acces from your mobile device. So now when you get that person that asks for a card or a flier get their email and send it to them immediately. When you go back to that con send it out again, and remind that person of where you will be and what is new.
5) Get customer testimonials.
If someone buys your comic book, get a video of them telling you what they like about it. It could be something you add to the press kit or add to your social medial down the line. In either case it gives you one thing that’s more important than anything in the world…CREDIBILITY. This says that for some reason or another people spent money on your book. It’s real, it’s raw and at times it’s honest. As in independent comic book creator you need every leg up you can get and this is an easy one. The best thing is, if you have a sales team it’s easier to get testimonials done (see how things start to tie into each other) as long as there is someone designated to do it.
Now these are just a few quick tips on what you could be doing during comic book conventions as an independent creator. Are there more? Of course there are, I just don’t want to take up all your time reading this when you should be working on your comic books. So use this as food for thought, and make sure you share what you learn with other creators out there, remember that the rising tide lifts all ships.
JayDee Rosario is an independent comic book creator. His work on Unstoppable Comics has produced a number of issues over multiple titles. His convention stops have taken him up and down the east coast as well as some parts of the mid west.