Day Three: The Remainders
Okay, let's lead with the video montage. Vanessa took quite a lot of pictures, and her compilation and commentary (not to mention the cosplayers themselves) deserve top billing.
We finally started an mailing list. Yes, we knew we should have one from day one, and a couple of helpful exhibitors reiterated it very insistently, but since the app I made for it hadn't worked out for two days in a row, it wasn't until the third that we regressed to "pen and ink" era data gathering technology.
We started with only seven books, a little guiltily, since these copies were set aside for friends and family who have probably shunned us by the time you read this. Still, we had plenty of prints left (though some of the favorites were sold out by now), and bookmarks and flyers for the Kindle and Amazon paperbacks.
Sunday was, hm... odd.
We encountered our first actual fan in person. No one at the show had read the Kindle versions, so they were all new to the series. Bryan, however, bought a paperback on Saturday, and started reading it overnight. When he visited our booth on Sunday, he was very excited to re-meet us. He stopped a passerby to take a picture of the three of us, and we talked for awhile about the book itself.
I'm afraid I was a little overwhelmed and probably sounded a little awkward. We'd spent the weekend trying to get people to read the back of the book, maybe even the inside, and now someone, well... had. As a bonus, Bryan looks a good deal like Preinon in his younger days.
Our friend, fellow author, and documentarian Joel Clark stopped by with his fabulous children (...or was that Saturday...?). Check out his Jack Staples Intermediate series.
Chip was another fantastic visitor. He zeroed in on a portrait of Adria, set it down in front of us, and said, "I... am so... drawn to her eyes." He talked for awhile about his artist friend, who always drew the eyes last. Vanessa starts there and works outwards. Chip is a baker, and not only bought the Adria print, but also gave us some of his homemade cookies. Chocolate chip, of course.
We were a little tired by then, but people were engaged in new ways, and we seemed to sell a wider variety of things. Artwork that had gone unnoticed was noticed. A mother and daughter played tic-tac-toe with our gray and white wolves. Vanessa's bronze necklaces attracted attention.
We went around to other booths more, met other artists and authors and vendors. Joseph Bellofatto, in three minutes at his excellent booth, told me about a dozen other possible conventions to attend in a year's time. I should have recorded him.
By the time the evening air raid sirens went off, which oddly represented nothing more than the burger vendor closing its gate and not a flight to the bomb shelters, we were saturated, and left standing with only one lonely and slightly marred copy of the Heir of Scars paperback.
My original idea for this was to keep track of the positive things we learned selling at the convention, so I think I'll close with that.
What we learned:
- Stand up, smile, and greet people, but...
- Work while you're behind the booth. Especially artists... it reminds people they're looking at something made by you, not by a stranger somewhere.
- Ask questions. There's no point in just selling people something. Engage them in it by seeing how it might relate to them, and...
- Be honest. We tried to steer some away from the book and to the art if they seemed a little young or to have a varying interest. You can figure this out pretty quickly utilizing the step just above.
- Direct peoples' attention. We had a lot of art, but the core of it was the books... which people didn't always see at first. They had to be guided since they didn't know the name and nature of the brand already. Besides... there are sights and sounds all around, and it's difficult to focus and absorb.
- Think vertical. Our banner was gorgeous, but on the floor. many others built up higher over the table, or had taller standing banners. Next time...
- Sign your work for buyers; I feel silly forgetting on day one.
- Take pictures of cosplayers; it's fun, but also engages them, and draws attention to your booth. Ask first!
- Yeah, lower expectations; we went in with the idea that we were just advertising, getting the Heir of Scars name (and ours) out there for people.
- Get the book (or whatever) in people's hands; there's nothing like tangibility, and the people who might want a 600 page book will want to feel it in their hands.
- Get emails.
- Give freebies. Flyers and business cards for starters, but in our example bookmarks and smaller prints with (or without) purchases.
- Have cash. You'll have to make change, right? We almost forgot.
- Have fun. That's really the biggest thing, I think. Everyone's there to have fun, and if it feels like work for you, it will seem like you're working to everyone else.
Okay... that doesn't capture the full experience of our first con, but it was a lot for us to absorb, and we're anxious to try again soon. Know a good convention in your area for a fantasy author and artist team? Let us know...
-Jacob and Vanessa
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