Yesterday Seth and I both attended our first comic book convention. We were able to set up an artist table at HickoryCon 2015. We did not know what to expect, but we were excited to embark on a new adventure! I found it funny to think that since we were artists at a CON that we could officially call ourselves CON artists. But don't worry, there was no conning going on, just a lot of hand shaking, book sales and good times being had by all. We believe we have a great story and we were happy to share it with others. Now, before writing too much about the CON and our experience I want to be sure to give a huge thanks to the organizers of HickoryCon; Time Tunnel Comics and Timmy Mac's. HickoryCon was very well setup with a ton of vendors, artists and lots of great guests. We appreciated the opportunity to join the party and set up a table and talk about our new series, Keys of Candor.
As new authors, Seth and I are always trying to find the best way to connect with readers and find new ways to sell our book, and we were very happy with our experience at HickoryCon. If you are the author of a fantasy, sci-fi or adventure fiction series, we would heavily encourage you to look into some Comic Cons or Sci-Fi Cons near you. In fact, there are many websites that are dedicated to help you find a comic con near you, such as http://www.upcomingcons.com . Your primary reader base is probably no more than thirty minutes away! Some of our author friends discouraged us from going to a smaller one day convention like Hickory Con, thinking we wouldn't get much traffic or interest generated. Thankfully, this wasn't the case for us. I think there are several reasons why we were successful at HickoryCon. We'd like to share with you our tips for being successful selling your books at a comic convention!
1.We were one of only two authors attending. This is the luck part of the equation. Most of the other vendors at HickoryCon were selling comic books, vintage toys, artwork or cosplay gear. Therefore, when people wandered by our table it was different, fresh and stood out. Since we were at a smaller con with fewer authors (less competition), it made it that much easier for us to get eyes on our table and meet and speak with potential readers. Here are a few pics of us arriving and setting up our table. Our good friend Candice Carpenter from WeGeekGirls.com had advised us on what not to do when setting up our table so we had to have a little fun with her in our middle picture below.
2. Make things look nice - It might seem obvious to you that you want to have an attractive booth and an eye catching book cover, but you are going to need more than that to be successful. (If you'd like to learn how we designed our cover for The Red Deaths as well as everything else, check out our previous post on cover design). Remember, a book is ALWAYS judged by its cover, and if you don't design a cover that makes you excited, chances are it won't make anyone else excited either. Another one of the best tips we can give you is to have something to give out to the attendees who walk by your table. We gave out attractive rack cards that highlighted some reviews of our book, as well as showcased our next project, Sea of Souls. Handing something out to convention attendees gives you two things that you desperately need. Time & Attention. Which brings us to our next tip.
3. We got our pitch nailed down. You've got mere seconds to sell your book to a potential customer. This is the hardest part. It means taking a book and boiling it down to its essence, so that you can convey what you're selling to a potential customer and why it is important. The pitch can actually be quite simple, but you have to know it and be comfortable presenting it. It is harder than it sounds asking an author to sum up a work in just a few sentences. After spending months, if not years, on a work it is incredibly difficult trying to mash it into thirty seconds, but it can be done.
4. Don't hide behind your table - get to know your neighbors. Once we got set up and ready to go we took some time to check out the amazing artists present as well as all the neat vintage toys and comic books available. It was like our childhoods on display, with so many toys ranging from G.I. Joe, Star Wars and Masters of the Universe. We also connected with several of our 'neighbors' at the table next to us, from Allen's Comics. To put it bluntly, Robin and Allen were awesome. Robin actually bought one of our first books and read it through the day, recommending the book to other attendees (thanks Robin!) Getting to know your neighbors really helps you to expand your network, as well as make new friends. Robin was our first champion at the con, and we so appreciated her speaking up to our potential customers. She also put the bug in our ear about another convention only a few weeks from now. These are things you would never learn if you don't engage with the people around you.
Speaking about engaging, one fun part of the conventions like this are all the cosplay characters you get to meet. We got to meet everyone from Thor to Darth Vader, but most importantly we were able to meet many new readers. Don't hide behind your table, even if it is uncomfortable at first say hey, smile and take time to engage with everyone willing to glance at your booth. Seth did an amazing job of speaking to anyone he could and making sure they had a rack card. It is nothing crazy, just be nice to people. People are more likely to buy something from someone they like and they are more likely to like you if you take time to speak with them and engage as opposed to shrinking behind your piles of books available for sale. At the end of the day we were blown away. We had completely sold all of our copies of Keys of Candor: The Red Deaths! With one hour left we had no books left (MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!) There is one more strategy that I want to mention, however.
5. Give something away for free. In this case we made it known to everyone who visited our table that they could download our book for Kindle for free. We had intentionally run our free sale up to HickoryCon so that if even someone did not buy a paperback they still had the ability to pick up a copy of our book for free. Many people seemed shocked that we were giving the book away on Kindle, but bottom line is, as new authors we aren't worried about squeezing money out of people. That's not our focus. We are interested in developing a reader base. Hopefully people will read our story, enjoy it and then share it with others. It's the long game approach at seeding your own success.
So overall, the experience of being a con artist was top notch. We were able to enjoy a laid back atmosphere filled with comics, toys and fun characters and meet tons of cool people. Most importantly of all we were able to connect with readers and share our story with them. So, if you are an author and have been scratching your head trying to figure out how to sell more copies of your own awesome story, we would highly recommend taking a break from social media and jumping into places where your readers actually are. Not only are you able to sell books, but you have fun in the process!
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