Recently, I attended Convolution. While I’ve been to many conventions before, it was the first convention that I ever had a table at. It was an interesting experience. Convolution was a small convention as there were only around 700-800 people. But it was big enough for this noob!
1. Bring a Friend
I had an inkling of how boring being at a table would be. After all, I’ve been to a ton of conventions and I’ve seen that bored expression across countless faces as I’ve walked pass tables. There’s a reason why those people are like dogs when you actually pay attention to them. While I enjoyed talking to the people that came by my table, there were long waits of nothing. It was understandable. People go to a convention to meet their friends, take workshops, visit panels, take pictures and so on. They don’t go to talk to one, lonely author that no one’s ever heard of.
Now, I was supposed to be at a table with my friend. Sadly, his book wasn’t out yet so he didn’t end up going. Much shame on you, Jon! If I had a friend, I could have maybe experienced a panel or two, or at the very least, stretch my legs. It was like trying to stay awake in class while waiting for people to come to my table. At a small convention, being by myself was all right. I’m curious as to what larger conventions will be like. I hope to one day find out.
2. Have Signs
I got asked a lot of questions, usually pertaining to what my books were about. Now, while I’m horrible at my elevator pitch, the one thing people didn’t have to ask was how much my books were.
My friend made excellent signs that people could see from 10+ feet away. People need to see the books multiple times before they decide whether or not they want to buy it. But if they know the price, they can mull things over. I also had a sign that gave people a deal if they bought all three books. Having the price also weeded out the people. Those that came up to my table were far more interested than those that would have come and asked what the price was. It made the sale much easier.
3. Bring Goodies
Sure, I brought the standard bookmarks. But I also brought candy. It was a monster themed convention and Halloween was coming up soon. Lastly, I brought the one of a kind card from a fun game, Boss Monster that I Kickstartered. People seemed to enjoy them especially the kids. People love free stuff. Once they looked at their free swag, they might even go online and buy your work then.
4. Bring Change…But Not Too Much
Since I no longer bank at Wells Fargo, I had a friend go to the bank for me and bring me back $100 worth of fives. Turns out, I didn’t need that many. More people bought the first three books, which I sold for $40. That I expected. However, I also expected people just picking up the first book, Catalyst, which was $15. Oddly enough, I think all of the people that bought just CAT paid for it by credit card and most of the people that bought the set paid cash. Go figure.
5. Lower Your Expectations and Stay the Entire Time
I sat near another author in my time at the con. Unfortunately, our tables weren’t exactly close enough to chit chat. That was probably because our tables were right outside the vendor’s room. The author and her husband had a really nice table with plenty of books, good covers, and awesome banners. They were nice enough people too and were far better with a sales pitch than I was.
Yet despite all that, they seemed disheartened. They and packed up and left early for a couple of days while I stayed the entire time. I’m not sure what they expected and if they’ve gone to other conventions before. With the way their tables were, I feel like they were pros. So they may have had comparisons from those cons and it may have been a let down for them. They might not have sold as many because people may have already seen them and bought their books because there’s overlap.
I feel like I may have sold more books and that more people stopped at my table. I’m just glad I made enough money to cover my trip to Vegas the following weekend. But that’s not the point. I honestly, had no idea what to expect. Yes, I wanted to sell books, and even network, but even if I didn’t, I felt like the experience would have been worth it. I mean, I’ve always been good at selling things. It’s more to do with connecting with people and being friendly, then it is about your sales pitch or price.
I’m sure that one day I’ll return to Convolution. Not next year though. It moved and I want to try something different. I’m thinking Fogcon or maybe even Baycon. I’d love to be on a panel as I think I’d be entertaining enough, or even have a table at a bigger con where I’d have to fly out. Now that would be something.
We’ll see what 2017 has in store for me…aside from releasing a new book, of course.