LBCC 2010, and that thing called ‘High Touch’

To my (very few) loyal blog readers, sorry I didn’t come back in time to wish you all a Happy Halloween and Samhain! Reason: Long Beach Comic-Con 2010. Did I go? Yes. What happened since then? I dunno, lots of catch-up/ketchup and possible frivolity (not really). What was it like to sit behind the table after 8-9 years? WELL, I’LL TELL you, it was interesting, because I’m definitely a different person now, and the times, they are definitely different.

Tee hee! I’m such a dork. This pic is from Saturday, when I tried to dress warmer. To sum up Long Beach; very nice venue (very pretty, love that part of Long Beach with the Aquarium), easy to park, easy to get eats, easy to get my stuff to the table (unlike certain venues, I encountered no resistance to using a rolling catalog case on the floor—Thumbs Up!!). Exhibitor presence? It really felt like comic book conventions of the past, although with an occasionally active wrestling ring with thumping music and ring announcer. Otherwise, not the Spectacle of a comic book/Media convention, and one definitely without the stress of huge and pressing crowds. Long Beach, for an attendee, should be a really enjoyable show, I would think.

ESPECIALLY, when so many of the retailers had merch priced to move. So with regards to the attendees: I barely saw purchases carried around. I was in artist alley (the ‘B’ side, with the other indy folk, rather than on the ‘A’ side, with comic book ‘pros’), and therefore not in the ‘prime’ area of foot traffic, but I didn’t spot any die hard geeks with the comic book boxes or bulging case/backpack, looking to fill out their collection or score some art pages. I might be wrong in what I was seeing, but I think that for much of the show, the attendees were, for the most part, not comic book fans.

OR, people were really holding tight to their money, or had no extra money at all. The venue fell on Halloween, Sunday, and the exhibitors were asked to bring in candy for the kids. I’m all for treating, so Sandra Chang (my table buddy) and I provided candy all 3 days. A lot of kids (and adults) got candy, and I didn’t see many who carried a bag or even a shopping bag. All in all, I think the venue this time around for attendees was good for a stroll, Free Things, and a safe place to bring one’s kids.

Why exhibit or vend at conventions/expos: All venues are different, and with my transitioning to Long Fiction, meaning Novels, a comic book convention is not the best venue to promote a Novel at, possibly, but Long Beach did remind rusty me about what’s needed to exhibit effectively. It also gave me the opportunity to see people I hadn’t seen in a *long* time, hear the gossip, get Info, watch what others were doing (Yes, Big Sister Was Watching YOU), and, most importantly, it gave me the opportunity to meet potential readers.

Comrades! I Haz a Book! Following in the footsteps of novelists before me, I made a book excerpt–basically, a free booklet of abut 5 chapters (yes, that’s a lot; mostly it should be only a few paragraphs, or just one’s first chapter), to hand out to anyone I thought might be a reader of Young Adult Fiction.

Backtrack: Here is how I made some:

My micro-batching set-up. This booklet was about 48 pp. You might be thinking, ‘Elizabeth, why didn’t you stick a price on this and sell it?’. In comics, yes, it’s perfectly fine to sell something this size as an Ashcan or Zine. In the world of novels, these booklets aren’t sold, they’re given away, as far as I know. It would probably be a better investment for me to do my promotions at actual book expos rather than comic book conventions.

You just never know, though. Michael D. Hamersky and his lovely wife Tina stopped by and Michael (retailer, dedicated book reviewer and creator supporter) was gracious enough to give my Long Beach appearance a photo mention on Facebook. Both he and Tina are also marketing experts, and I WELCOMED the marketing ‘adjustment’ I received just by hearing their comments about my table presence. I don’t want to give the impression that Michael and Tina walk around giving table critiques; what I mean, by example, is: My newsletter sign-up, was that a good decision? Yes (thumbs up). Table presence: no banner? (Uh, yeah, didn’t have a studio image ready in time). My presence: no Facebook pic? We didn’t recognize you. (Yes, my bad, I am obviously camera-shy). What am I selling? Is it being sold online? (I look over my very old stock), WELL my graphic novel, that’s listed on Amazon . . .

It’s basically like getting a 3 minute marketing consultation for FREE. I felt like how one might feel after visiting a chiropractor; properly re-aligned. I’ll have a better set-up at my next public appearance thanks to Michael and Tina. And yes, now there must be pics of me.

So during the slooow parts of the Con, what does one do besides nap discreetly behind one’s books? Take pictures of each other!

That’s me on Sunday, Halloween!

So back to the benefits of exhibiting. Again, it’s good to meet potential readers and get some P.R. A screenwriter and his daughter (about 12 yrs old, yet already attending film school) stopped by, a librarian did as well, a school teacher zoomed in on the cover of the booklet immediately, and I got about 2 minutes video with a web show on local KTLA’s website (which, as far as I know, I don’t think made the cut, but if it does, I will have something nifty to download and promote on my own sites). People exhibit at cons and expos for possibly different reasons, but the most prevalent reason is probably to SELL. You do want to make back your table/booth costs, the shipping fees for your set-up and merch/books, the parking fees, the hotel costs if any, and the meals especially.

My table buddy, Sandra Chang! Visit her Banzai Chicks Etsy store to check out her awesome merch!

Quite a few people (I’m tempted to say most) don’t make back their con appearance costs. When you add in the big hassle some venues can be, in terms of hotel check-in, set-up, travel time/costs, etc, you can see why lots of creators just don’t do the venues anymore. Conventions used to be, and I think it still is, the way lonely freelancers and creators can finally get together in a place with their peers, see each other, see what everyone is doing, meet their supporters and fans, make new contacts and supporters, etc. So con appearances have that emotional pull as well as the practical option of making the creator just a bit more money, if possible. Then of course, a creator is often sad when they haven’t the means to go to a convention with their peers.

In all practicality, if one can afford to eat the costs, then a con/expo is worth it for what I’d mentioned above. I’m debuting a new book, and during the slow hours at Long Beach Sandy and I discussed what it means to come and sit behind a table. ‘This is what it is,’ she said. ‘There’s Soft Touch, which is the internet and storefronts and social media, and then there’s High Touch. What we’re doing now is High Touch.’

So there you go. I will do this when I can afford it. And I look forward to seeing some of you There. 🙂

And maybe by then I’ll stop ‘shopping myself. LOL

HAPPY NOVEMBER and keep on with your SPOOOKY NIGHTS!

love,

~~eeee!

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2 replies
  1. ewat
    ewat says:

    Ebay! They took Forever to find, it’s all about the synthetic clunky, now. These are real leather and they stretch (thankfully!!).

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