It was a long and busy weekend for Cirsova Publishing. Not a particularly successful one, but a long and busy one, nonetheless, where some important lessons were learned.
The folks running SpaCon did a pretty great job, all things considered, what with it being their first year and all, and I don’t want anything I say to be construed as a slight against them, but…
I don’t think we’ll be doing any more anime conventions, at least not until we get the Leigh Brackett Light Novels finished. Fun as they are, small anime conventions are more a place to see and be seen, strutting your cosplay stuff or seeing what other folks have to offer. Most people aren’t there to buy merch, much less books. As a consequence, the lady next to us doing Henna tattoos was killing it both days, while the other small crafts vendors didn’t get much traffic. Even the bigger toy and comic sellers seemed to be doing fairly light business compared to River City (fewer people seen with swag-bags).
There were a few things that raised an eyebrow, however. We were the only fiction publisher. No one was really selling books, though the local library had a small shelf of cheap SF books along the lines of what you’d expect to see at a normie’s flea market booth (Star Trek books and a few well known thriller authors). While there were a couple people selling comics, no one was selling manga or DVDs of anime.
We were much more successful at River City Comic Expo, and while the cheaper table price and lack of two hour round trip commute didn’t hurt, the biggest factor was that it was more of a vendor driven event. People were there to buy things, and a few of them even bought stuff from us. The other pulp publisher in AR wasn’t at SpaCon, which was too bad, because we could’ve benefited from the synergy or, if nothing else, I could’ve maybe picked up the new volume of Bombay Sapphire.
The Tortured Earth folks were there, and I talked to one of them for a bit; I wish I’d had a chance to actually run the game with them at one of their demos to test out their claim that it was compatible with B/X (or see if it was in the same ballpark). One thing that’s a drag about having a table is that the most you can really do to engage at the con is check out the booths doing a quick circuit; you don’t have the opportunity to check out any of the panels or do any of the activities.
It wasn’t all bad. Our booth was on the end with a direct view of the main stage, so we had a bit of entertainment. I ended up buying a Master Grade 1/100 scale GM and a run of Batman and the Outsiders, including several issues beyond the end of collected volume I’d read. My one strike-out over the weekend was getting a Katana action figure. Out of all the McDonalds I hit between home and the con, none of them had a Katana, so I ended up having to buy her on eBay–I went ahead and bought two; I’m going to leave one as-is and the other I’m going to try to paint using her original costume colors.
Also, the flea market that had closed down re-opened a few miles down the road in a new location, and the guy I’ve started buying pulps from since I cleaned the other place out has moved with them. I’ve added this one to the pile.
Of the people who stopped by our booth, most were disappointed that the Simpsons comic my girlfriend was reading wasn’t for sale or that I hadn’t drawn/written/published it, had been bummed to find out that we weren’t a comic book, or lamented they didn’t have money but promised to check us out online. Hopefully some folks reading this now are in that last category; we enjoyed talking SFF with you guys!
As much as it pains me to say it, we’re going to have to hold off on doing cons for a bit unless we find some really good deals. We’ve got big plans and con tables are a gamble that haven’t really paid off. I can totally see now how folks have squandered big chunks of their kickstarter money getting booths at cons thinking it will make them more money and in the end contributes to the tanking of their project and failure to deliver on the promised goods. Well, we aren’t in that shape and we’re not going to fail at delivering anything, but we’re no longer going to be taking risks with low reward potential. If there are cons that are specifically sci-fi or fantasy, we might look into it, because people at those might be more ready to pick up new stuff to check out, but for now, you probably won’t see us at any more anime cons.