SDCC Comic Con Recap – What We Learned as Exhibitors
The Dark Productions team shares their thoughts on different topics from San Diego Comic Con 2016. Some of us are veteran CCI attendees while others are attending the Con for the first time in years and/or are brand new exhibitors! Learn what it’s like behind the scenes. If you’re hoping to produce and promote your own comics & graphic novels someday, we hope our thoughts and experiences will shed some light into the world of being a small press company.
I learned that networking is incredibly important and difficult. Sometimes an artist can have the skill set but can’t get work just because he/she isn’t talking to the right people. Running a free kindle book giveaway was a great idea to get good reviews, and a good promotion to give to people to increase their interest. The postcard with several images of all of our different books were great especially since it has a blank space so that we can write our table location on it. For social media, the table number P-11 is still hard for people to find. It was easier to tell people we were located in the back of aisle 1800.
The only thing you can truly be prepared for is your own pitch. On both the floor and in the booth you often have just a split second to notice that someone has engaged you and you don’t want to “Um” and “Uh” your way through the encounter. Having short log lines for our products on the back of the displays to jog our memories was SO helpful!
I also noticed that presentation is huge – sexy displays with merchandise and tall, detailed backdrops make attendees pause to look, giving an opening to start a conversation. On the flip side, the booths pushing small giveaways (small stickers, cards) to everyone didn’t appear to generate sales as I thought they would. Folks took the sticker and kept walking like that was the start and end of the whole encounter. Having attractive postcards / coasters / etc laid out front might be the better way to go because it lets the attendee start the interaction. Lots to think about for next year!
I packed food and water every day as if running a marathon and it really helped when the time got away from me. The crowds are so thick around the con that trying to leave for food eats up a ton of time.
And KICKSTARTER!!!! Any doubts of whether we should keep KS on the front burner were put to rest as no less than 20 booths had writers/artists with products fresh from their KS campaigns. On the flip side, lots of the KS derived products had high price tags ($25 and up for a trade paperback), so we’ll have to see if that’s a production price problem or a profit margin thing.
Give an Aisle Number-Not a Booth Number-Small Press is oddly numbered and when I told people we were in booth P-11 they could never find us. But aisle 1800 got them to us every time.
Preparation is Key—I wrote my books so why do I feel tongue-tied and blank when people ask me about them. Have a short answer handy and deliver it with confidence. And on that note:
Confidence is Sexy (and it sells)—I noticed that the booths with the biggest crowds were those where the exhibitors made eye contact with passerby and invited them to come up to the table.
Learn to Network—Networking is hard. Super hard. Incredibly hard. And it takes confidence so that you can handle it gracefully when you sound like a noob. Networking while you’re in cosplay is easier, but not always possible, or advisable.
Banners, Signs and Freebies, Oh My!—I made note of the booths that drew my attention. I don’t want to say that bigger because that is not the case at all. I really enjoyed some of the smaller booths, but I will say that a sharp focus is better, whether that focus was on an overall theme or a specific piece of art or book or character. I’m a fan of the booths with vertical banners or interestingly-arrayed, multi-layered tables. At the same time, many of those booths held nothing of interest to me, but simpler tables without those things drew my eye because of the quality or subject matter of the work. There’s definitely a delicate balance that can be struck in that arena, a sweet spot, if you will. As for freebies I know people love them. I know there are some people who stalk the Con collecting every free piece of anything they can. While I can get behind such a giveaway I am not one of those people. I much prefer a gift with purchase, or a raffle ticket to a drawing. I saw only one raffle going on this year, which struck me as odd because I think it’s a great way to get people back to your table.
Okay kids. San Diego Comic Con International is no joke. Eat your wheaties, bulk up on protein, sleep, take your vitamins and drink your water every morning (and throughout the day) of this convention. Do what you have to do to KEEP YOUR HP UP! In order to be a good sales person, to network and to greet your friends with a cheerful face, you have to feel healthy inside-out. It’s easy to get distracted by all the noise, toys. comics, and people to the point where you forget to eat until 5 p.m. (Cory, I’m looking at you.) But nothing is worse than feeling like 10% when you’re at the biggest event of the year. Take it from me. I’m grateful to having such an awesome team that they were able to prop me up when I was a shell of myself last week.
A little background story! So, I’m an insoniac with anemia and sensitivity to certain foods (e.g., dairy & wheat a.k.a the Queen of all Convention Foods: PIZZA.) Combine a lack of iron with foods I’m mildly allergic to you get a weak zombie with stomach cramps. I came prepared with water & protein & fruit bars, but when faced with the temptation that is PIZZA, I couldn’t resist. (Admit it, you wouldn’t be able to either. Don’t judge.) Oh, and also, I didn’t get any sleep Friday night. I tried my hardest but ended up being awake all night.
Annnyhow, come Saturday, I was a growly, whiny, sweaty, achy mess which resulted in me taking my latex covered self to the car for a nap in the middle of the day. (Which was no easy feat since San Diego this year was in the middle of an incredible heat-wave. Oh, the things I do for the love of cosplay…)
That’s not to say that this year didn’t have its highlights. I had a BLAST around the hazy parts. But I know I’ve had better, healthier years. If I could do it all again, I would have a water cooler under that table and perhaps a USB powered fan and maybe a ton of veggies — I don’t know. (Did anyone else notice that the exhibit hall was hotter than usual?)
Bottom line. Eat well, rest well. Next year, I guarantee to have my body be on its A game.