From October 28-30 I’ll be in Artist Alley at the Central Canada Comic Con (C4) here in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre. This will mark my tenth year doing the event. Sheesh. Has it been that long? I started doing it in 2007. Damn. Getting old. But it’s a great show. A ton of people come out–over 40,000–and celebrate nerdy goodness for three days. I’ll be there, full-blown display and all. Books and comics will be available for purchase and signature. You can also bring books from home and I’ll be happy to sign those as well.
With so many writers these days focusing all their marketing efforts on-line, they’re putting themselves in a corner and limiting their exposure. Off-line sales are where the bread and butter is at if you play your cards right.
I’m talking conventions, which are basically glorified book signings.
Since 2007, I’ve been tabling at Central Canada Comic Con here in Winnipeg, a giant comic book convention. This show is also a big part of my paycheck, and my books fit right in because I write nerdy stuff like monster stories, superhero fiction and sci-fi.
A lot has been learned about having a successful show over the years. Here are some basics to get you started:
Have an eye-catching display. When competing against so many other booths and tables, you need to stand out. Bring a tablecloth because not all shows provide them. Use signage, big ones, like 11”x17” set up on stands so folks catch sight of your book’s cover or what the deal of the day is. Want to really stand out? Get a big banner printed up, one you can put behind you. This can display your name and what you do. It can feature your book covers, a web address. Lots of options.
By all means, lay your books flat if you want, but if you prop them up on book stands, all the better. It raises them above the table and draws the eye. Simple picture frame stands work fine. I use iPad ones because they compact better for transport.
Have a series? Lay them out in order of reading.
Write in multiple genres? Organize them as such on the table. Makes it easier to direct the customer to what’s what.
Big sales point. Offer convention-only pricing. I do ten dollars a novel, five bucks a novella. I make sure the customer knows the convention is the only place to get the deal. Get my stuff at a store or on-line and you’ll pay more. Everyone likes saving money.
You can also bundle your books. Have a series? Instead of three books at ten beans each, how about three for twenty-five? You can also do a buy-two-get-one-free thing. Whatever works for you provided you come out in the black all things considered.
3. Book Stock
Better to bring more books than necessary. Nothing worse than selling out and having someone want something. With time and experience, you’ll learn your top sellers and will stock up accordingly. For a first-time show, I recommend at least fifteen copies of each title. If you only have one book out, bring at least twenty.
4. Miscellaneous Items
Scatter bookmarks and business cards around your table. If someone doesn’t buy something, at least you can send them off with a card for a potential after sale.
Be courteous, be nice, give the customer the time of day. Don’t be a fake. Answer their questions honestly. Be active. Don’t squirrel yourself away behind your table. Say hi to people as they walk past. Smile. And, please, don’t do the lonely-author thing where you sit there staring at folks, the look in your eyes saying, “Please come talk to me.” Just be cool. Relax. With time and experience, you’ll find what works for you in your personable approach. Ultimately, be yourself. This isn’t a show.
There’s so much to expand on regarding the above, but space doesn’t allow it. Why not sound off in the comments below and exchange tips and tricks with your fellow authors? I’ll tune in when I can and do the same.
Today I committed to appearing at C4’s Winnipeg Pop Culture event on April 9th and 10th at the RBC Convention Centre. This will be the first time in two years C4 has hosted a spring two-day event. The last two-day event was in 2013, and in 2014 and 2015 they held a couple of one-day events–one in the spring, one in early fall–before the big show toward the end of the year.
I’m looking forward to it and getting my geek on. My plan is to bring the whole catalogue just like I did for Horror Con. I still have a small amount of free copies of A Stranger Dead available so these will be given away with each purchase. Offer good while supplies last, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. Not getting anymore in because that book is long out-of-print.
On February 13 and 14 I attended C4’s first Horror Con here in Winnipeg at the RBC Convention Centre.
C4 has been around for a long, long time and has run multiple conventions, but this was their first horror one. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what to expect or if, from a tabling point-of-view, it would be a good venue for me. Sure, there was the obvious: I write monster fiction and that should do well at a horror show, but that doesn’t matter if nobody shows up.
Well, let me tell you, people did show up. A lot of people. I don’t know the exact numbers, but Saturday was hopping and there were times I had so many people getting books from me it was hard to keep up. There were a few lulls, but they didn’t last long and I was back to explaining my books, talking horror and having a good time.
On Saturday, I was on a panel for writing horror along with Chadwick Ginther and J.H. Moncrieff. It lasted about an hour and we talked about writing gore, going for the gross out, killing characters, that little nonsense thing called writer’s block, and a whole ton more.
In the end, I’m pleased to report it was a very solid show, both in terms of fun and selling books. I was shocked because my total-books-sold tally was not far under all those copies moved at C4 last fall, the big show that I wait all year for and with an attendance of over 40,000 people. This certainly makes a point about niche marketing.
But all this book number junk aside, in the end, I was just glad to go, hang out with my convention friends and share in a common fandom.
On February 13th and 14th I’ll be at C4’s first St. Valentine’s Day Horror Con at the RBC Convention Centre here in Winnipeg. I’m looking forward to it because I have a ton of monster fiction and it’ll be a good chance to connect with readers who will be there looking for that sort of material. I’m excited to see how it goes. As a bonus, I still have some copies of A Stranger Dead available and will be giving those away with each purchase. (Good while supplies last.)
Just a heads up I’ll be in Artist Alley at the RBC Convention Centre here in Winnipeg this weekend for the annual C4 Comic Con. I’ll have my entire catalogue on hand as well as giving away free copies of my first novel, A Stranger Dead, with each purchase.
I plan on being there from open until close each day. If, by chance, you come by my table and I’m not there, it means I’ve stepped out for a few minutes to stretch my legs but will be back shortly. Just hang tight. Likewise, if you have any books you’d like signed, bring them down and I’d be happy to sign them for you.