This past weekend was an exercise in stepping out of my comfort zone in more ways than one, but I am very glad that I made the decision to go to Tri State Comic Con (aka TriCon).
I had gotten invited by Aaron Walther to split a table and I was nervous about doing it. It’s been years since I had driven out of state and I’d never even been to West Virginia. It would also be my first convention on the other side of the table so I was nervous about selling my book to people since I didn’t have a lot of experience. It boiled down to the fear of going somewhere I had never been to do something I had never done and failing miserably.
But then I thought, “F*ck it, why not?”
I’d never really prepared for a convention before so I did the best I could to get stickers and things of that nature together. I had recently finished my one shot Someday and printed out copies to bring to the show. When everything was said and done, I had 45 copies Secrets and Shadows #1, 30 copies each of issues 2-6, 20 copies of Someday, and 25 black and white copies of Clusterf@#k #1. Including supplies and snacks, I had enough to fit into a small U-Haul box.
The days leading up to the drive were nerve-wracking. I kept going back over things to make sure I had everything I needed. I ordered some plate holders to be makeshift comic stands so I could have my book stood up and visible to passers by. I double checked my number and then triple checked them. Finally it got to the point when I realized that I needed to relax and that any mistakes made during the show, I would learn from them.
The drive was a bit daunting going in. 410 miles and roughly 6 hours. I was nervous at first, but I was okay once I got out of Indiana. The scenery in Kentucky was so beautiful, I ended up forgetting about how worried I was. In fact, a lot of the geography of the area gave my flashbacks of driving in Kuji. So if you ever wanted to know what it was like driving in Kuji, check out US Highway 9 in Kentucky.
I arrived a day early and was able to get all the supplies into the showroom so that all I’d have to do is set-up the next day. I shared a room with three other people: Aaron, Chris McJunkin (who draws Zero’s Heroes and a new project*), and his girlfriend Rebecca. I hadn’t had to share a room with people I wasn’t related to in some time so I tried to be aware of any habits I’d picked up since living abroad. Since Japan, I had kind of shut myself in so I was not sure how sharing space with others would be but everyone was very welcoming.
The con itself was great learning experience. Aaron and I were actually a bit late because we’d forgotten that they let VIPs in an hour early, but things worked out and we were able to get set up fairly quickly. Sadly, the plate holders I had bought were not heavy enough to hold up the books so I had to abandon them. Instead, I set my books out in two rows of four which ended up working really well. I ended up selling more than I expected. Sadly, I left my camera in my car so I don’t have any pictures to share.
I had Clusterf@#k stickers printed for the show and and those were a hit. The name Clusterf@#k got a lot of second glances and a couple people stopped by just to get the stickers. One guy even came back for some more. So if you find yourself in Huntington, WV and see a Clusterf@#k sticker on the bumper of someone’s car, know that was me.
I had been apprehensive about trying to sell my book to people, but I feel like I was able to do a decent enough job. I wasn’t really able to read people but I tried to inject enthusiasm into my explanations. I’d like to think I did a good job, but I know that I can do better in the future. Still, I did better than I expected and fairly well for my first time.
When all was said and done, I sold 33 books. I managed to get three people to buy all six Secrets & Shadows issues while three more bought the first issue. Clusterf@#k and Someday were tied with six buys. Not bad for my first convention, especially when no one really knew who I was.
One thing that was great was the fact that the show was only one day. It was a great way to dip my toes into selling books at conventions. If you are planning to start working conventions, I’d highly recommend working smaller one day conventions first. It’s a good way to get acclimated to how things work and learn from mistakes on a small scale rather than dive headfirst into a large three day convention like a Wizard World and find yourself overwhelmed.
Overall, it was a good experience and I am glad that I pushed myself to go. I do think that it helped having people who knew the ropes with me. If I had gone alone or with people just starting out, it might have been a little more nerve-wracking.
Thanks to Aaron, Chris, and Rebecca for allowing me to tag along. Thanks to TriCon for having me and, if all goes well, I hope to go back next year.
P.S.: Aaron and Chris are doing a Kickstarter for their new series Urban Archer and Abracadiva. It’s a superhero romance set in 1970s San Francisco. If that sounds interesting, check it out and consider backing it.