Hard Lessons Learned Slowly

I’m very slowly figuring out what works and what doesn’t from the handful of times I’ve had tables or booths at cons or book fairs.

The thing that’s killing me is I always procrastinate until it’s too late to get business cards or bookmarks printed. Frankly, I think I’d be better off making these to give away than actually having any product to sell.

I at least learned from the first table I had to not be over-optimistic about stocks. I’ll be lucky if I ever get rid of all the copies of issue 1 that I’ve had since River City Comic Expo in 2016. Having no more than 10 copies seems to work.

Sell coloring books or children’s books. Virtually everyone who picks these up has a moment where their heart sinks in disappointment when they realize it’s not a coloring book or a comic.

Action, Adventure, and Romance are stronger selling points than pulp, sci-fi and fantasy. I think that navel gazing explanations of throw-backs, periods, Campbellians, Futurians, the Pulp Rev, etc. will make eyes glaze over and should be avoided. I typically never take it that far, and even mentioning the pulps at all tends to evoke a dead-eyed stare from most folks.

I did talk to an old man, though, who was a fan of ERB; he told me about a relative who was kind of spoiled as a kid and had dang near every Burroughs book. So, that was cool.

Also, I got to meet Jesse Abraham Lucas and Donald Uitvlugt in person and hang with both of them for a bit. Jesse’s a pretty decent pitch-man and better at striking up conversations than I am.

So, uh… before I potentially waste my money and time on getting another booth at a fair or a con again, I’ll be sure to actually get my cards and bookmarks printed up this time around.

9 responses to “Hard Lessons Learned Slowly

  1. Zazzle gave me a decent deal on a box of business cards. If you want something last minute there are business card templates you can run through your own printer, office supply stores have them. I also picked up a thing of nametag stickers and made bookplates I could sign for people at events.

    None of which have turned a profit for me. Cons are more about “raising profile” for me than actually moving books.

  2. My friend Debbie, who is the author of the PAWS series of YA fantasy, always has little chocolate bars (like the ones they sell for Halloween) at her table. She’s not naturally outgoing, but people will stop for the candy, and then it’s easier for her to open a conversation about her books with them. I’ve seen her in action, and it works.

  3. Also, for a publication, I’ll recommend flyers/club cards over business cards. Something with one of your bolder covers on one side, business info and a few more images on the other.

  4. Pingback: BLOG WATCH: Dead-eyed Stares, Pre-Campbellian Gothic, Moral Complexity, and Patriarchal Constructs | Jeffro's Space Gaming Blog

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