Wow. I’ve never worked a 3-day stint in a dealers room before and I’d never been to a comic con, so last weekend was a real education.
To start with, the cosplay was a whole lot more fun than I anticipated. In addition to being a big Star Wars geek, I love My Hero Academia and any sort of clever mashup, so the Jedi Belle and Samurai Vader, as well as the Jack & Sally/Danny & Sandy couple were a blast. Watching for the next costume to come along made the time pass.
Mostly we sold copies of Tales for the Camp Fire because my tablemates were amazing at handing out copies of the new bookmark to anyone who would take them. I am such an introvert that I had a hard time flinging myself across the table at strangers, but I did manage to step up from time to time and timidly ask if I could give people a bookmark.
To be honest, I am shy enough that if people at another dealer’s table try to talk to me when I’m shopping, I avoid them. I just want to look in peace, then chat if I find something I’m curious about. Despite my hesitance to engage, I did notice that people passing our table didn’t see the Camp Fire book among the others on our rack. Once we’d captured their attention with a bookmark, a surprising number plunked down their cash for a copy.
So I’m working on my selling persona. It was hard just to say hi and make eye contact with everyone who walked by the table, but I am very proud of that book, which made it easy to sell if people were tempted.
My tablemates suggested we put together a 3-book sampler of each of our novels, both in paperback and on a super cute kitty thumb drive. We sold a number of those, too. It’s interesting that people were more likely to take a risk on a bundle of books rather than buy them individually. The bundles were totally worth doing.
I wasn’t going to take 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die to a comic con, figuring that it wouldn’t be the right audience for them, but I sold out all I brought — and could’ve sold a couple more. Those books are really heavy to carry around, though. I think the lesson is that there are some people who love cemeteries everywhere I go.
I was surprised the Haunted Mansion Project books I brought didn’t sell better, but I think I should have had an “out-of-print” sticker on them. I thought, since some of the guests have a ghost hunter show, I would’ve caught more people interested in ghost stories. The next show, in October, might be a better place for them.
One of the best experiments of the weekend was talking to people about my novels. I tried different ways of talking to people about The Dangerous Type: it was inspired by the darker elements of Star Wars. It has a badass heroine. It focuses on a bisexual poly relationship. Humans are a minority in the galaxy. Different elements caught different people’s attention.
I think our table looked kind of busy to catch people’s eyes, so I would reorganize it next time. I would limit myself to the four books that fit on the rack and not worry about the chapbooks. The giveaway magnets that were so popular at the Bay Area Book Festival didn’t really interest people this time, so I wouldn’t bring them again. They are really heavy for me to carry, anyway.
The mailing list signup sheet was totally worth doing, though. I’m so glad I brought that along.
I think I’d like to make more professional price stickers than my scribbled washi tape prices. I coveted LS’s nice-looking “display copy” stickers, so I’m going to make those, too. And someone brought a bookmark to our table that had a blank space for their booth number on the bottom of it. That seems like a great idea, too. I handed out postcards to people who seemed interested in my books but not ready to commit — and several of them came back to the table later to buy after they’d toured the whole room — but I felt like I was relying on their memories to find me again. I could’ve made it easier for them.
I might try to sell some of my photos next time, since we had the upright space for them. And I might want to throw a cloth over the back stock, to simplify how the table looked.
All in all, though, I am really pleased with how the weekend went. Staying over in San Jose, even though the room was expensive, was the right choice, rather than trying to drive the hour back and forth. I wish I’d sold more books, but considering that I had no idea what I was doing, I sold enough to have made the experiment worthwhile.
At the moment, I’m not committed to many more book-selling events in the foreseeable future, beyond Sinister Creature Con in October and the Bay Area Book Festival next year. It was great to hang out with EM Markoff and LS Johnson for a weekend, though. I hope they’ll let me share their table again someday.