DragonCon - Should "we" go?

So I just put in to be a guest at Dragon Con 2013 in Atlanta Georgia and set out a few emails to track directors to offer up myself as a panelist. That got me thinking:

Do "we" want to get a table at the convention and do a general promotion of WebFiction/ the Web Fiction Guide website? One easy thing to do is to create one page teasers to hand out for people's active works, have cards for the website, etc etc. I would prefer not to spend the ENTIRE con sitting at a table but this is one of those things that if you break it up among people it can be "not that bad" and does offer a pretty wide audience if your work falls into Fantasy, Sci Fi or Pop Culture.

There is also a Fed Ex store in the Marriot hotel that people could ship their handouts to so it's just a matter of picking them up for those that are at the con.

If I were anywhere near Georgia, I'd say yes.

Personally, I'm thinking that I might be going to Penguicon (Pontiac, MI) next year. By then I think I'll be able to have enough product out that I can justify it. If anyone were likely to be in Michigan then (late April), I'd be interested in renting a table with them.

I was thinking of doing similar for a webcomic i'm doing, get a bunch of flyers and such from other small webcomics to have at a table. (that was when I was going to be able to afford a table at Phoenix comicon)

Hm. I've been to DragonCon now twice (as I'm local) and it is a far stronger place for art than books from what I've seen. I've never seen a place for book sales at DC other than mostly comic books/compiled webcomics being sold in the comic artist alley as well as within the art show space.

That said, I remember one fantasy writer sharing a table with an artists sitting near a few webcomickers. I also remember these guys in the art alley (not comic side but art show side): https://www.facebook.com/WinstonandBaum1 . I made a point to talk to the author since he's a self-publisher and ask him about sales. He had a modest number of books and sold them all I think (but we're talking a dozen or two dozen IIRC).

I also remember Janny Wurts in the art show artist alley and she had lovely fantasy prints and copies of her paperbacks as well.

However- I remember two different authors who approached promotion at DC in a different way.

1) One year I stood in thewalk-up ticket line for 3.5 hours. Rachel Aaron (who had yet to release her Eli Monpress series) was actually passing out hard copy excerpts of her first book while we were in line. I think most people took the copies (we were seriously bored and hot). For me, this sample was enough to convert me to becoming a follower of her blog and eventually buying her books.

2) Last year I was outside of the comic alley and people were passing out bookmarks with "free book codes"... remember taking them and a few others going "hey cool" when the person explained what it was.

Alternative also to bring to your attention. Usually the "Decatur Book Festival" runs the same exact weekend as DragonCon. I think there has been some coordination between the two events in past years, but the audiences are very VERY different. (IN Atlanta, most "normal people" run away from DragonCon with the exception of coming down to see the Saturday morning parade. However Decatur is for the progressives and for those who value independently owned businesses, bookshops, music stores, etc.)

I'm not sure how much/how difficult it is to actually do the other event but it is a short train ride away from the main downtown area and possibly a more interested audience: http://www.decaturbookfestival.com/Community/index.php

In any case, will see if I can drag one or two folks who have sold at DC to this thread to give advice.

PS - if you DO table, I still think it advisable to have a hard copy (one at least from each author)... people actually do respond better to seeing a book and then picking up a flyer, bookmark, or whatever.

I've heard it said (maybe even on WFG) that to really make it worth it, you'd need merchandise. Con tables are about the impulse buys (SgL touched on this by mentioning how art sells better than literature); so having plushies, posters, artwork, mugs and the like are likely to be more successful than books (and much more successful than, as SgL said, fliers and bookmarks.

Can't go all the way to Georgia, but there's a con in Ottawa, and I'm hoping to check it out and see what's there, assess what I'd need or want to do if I were ever to get a table.

The reason to have "other stuff" is part of trying to spread yourself out into products that interest a range of customers. Most fan conventions these days aren't focused enough for tabling vendors to know what attendees will want to buy, so they take a scattershot approach to their inventory.

In many cases, original work tends to suffer vs. fanwork as well, hence many webcomickers have buttons, shirts, of fan-things or popular internet memes in order to try to make sure they have enough stuff to interest people in a sale. This isn't universally true at all conventions, but more of a trend now that artist alley has become so commercial.

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Since some of you are talking about exploring your local conventions, it's really important to talk to artists /vendors who are there and seem to know what they're doing. I would tell them what you're about (and why not bring a card anyways to give them if you have them) and see what they say when you ask them "Would this convention be a good one for me to bring my books to?" [Don't rely on convention staff or directors to tell you. A lot of them aren't artists/creators themselves and so have little idea of what goes on during conventions. ]

Couple of random places that I generally do my information gathering:

* STalk "artist alley" and related convention tags on tumblr

* Read the GAiaonline Artist Alley Thread from time to time: http://www.gaiaonline.com/forum/art-discussion/artists-alley-information-thread/t.21610915_1/

* Read Kiriska's blog at http://kiriska.com/ She does brutally honest convention reprts... probably one of the few artists who still does them (as the rest don't have the time or don't want to share information with the public)

Some interesting thoughts. I love the idea of passing out chapters to people trapped in line. If I go to DCon as a fan I am SO doing that just to, you know, do it, table or not.

I'm not sure that I can have books to sell persay though it's not that hard to bind up 10 chapters of something to have as a novella-ette for sale for the print costs. I'd have to check the DCon rules for that as it ~might~ run afoul of the "no vendors at the exhibit tables". I doubt it, honestly, but it's something to check.

Is it too late to get a table for PenguiCon? I thought about going last year as a vendor with my stuff but I couldn't justify the price of a full table.

I think you probably still could get a table at Penguicon. Personally though, I'm not even thinking of doing thing there this year. Next year I'll have more to work with.

Ah if you're applying for an exhibit table /fan table (usually sales not allowed), then the strategy probably is to focus on passing out things like postcards/bookmarks instead. (I recommend ONE per unique work.) I have found bookmarks generally are better for people who like free stuff or books. (And the weird thing is that any printer that does the gloss postcards quite often can do the bookmarks and yet you get more mileage out of the bookmark.)

The books could be there as simple props actually.

If you do end up doing it let me know. I haven't made my plans yet regarding DragonCon weekend. If I do go, I may be running around the comic artist alley either helping folks I know there or just commissioning them for work, but I would gladly help fill in at the table and pass out stuff. I have other presentation gear that I can probably lend you for the weekend including collapsible wooden shelves of several varieties (see http://25.media.tumblr.com/c42fcabfe728985459dab6490ee16ef0/tumblr_mjtdimwhc61qdfezjo6_1280.jpg )