Skip to content

Convention-al Wisdom

Those of y’all who have been around for a while know that a big part of my marketing strategy is to get out in front of readers by way of attending comic book conventions. I got the song-and-dance, I have the banners, I have the swag. Since September 2014, I’ve attended 16 (yep – sixteen) conventions.

At first, I knew I wasn’t going to break even on these events. I said it was better to go and grow my audience than to sit behind a computer and twiddle my thumbs. So I went to every convention that fit my schedule – big and small, close and far.

And I lost a lot of money. Enough that it’s making me reconsider my investment strategy.

This weekend, I was at Florida Supercon in Miami. Based on the number of likes, the high level of engagement, all of that, I expected this to be an Indianapolis-type weekend, where I sold out of 80 copies of Double Life. Having Empath made me think I could sell maybe 50% more. But I ended the weekend with 86 books soldĀ total. Not enough to cover my costs. The weekend before, BayouCon was similarly slow and I lost money, too–even though I only had money on hotel.

I had thought that more books = more sales, but I’m starting to realize that there are a finite number of potential customers at these conventions. Hotel, food, and the cost of books add up quickly, especially when I consider that I’m aiming for this business to support me. I can’t live on negative numbers, and neither can SGR-P.

So I’m reconsidering my plans. I’m no longer focused on attending 2 conventions per month, but making smart decisions about return on investment. I can spend $200 on a table for a convention in Pensacola, because the only cost is that and books. But I can’t justify a trip to Indianapolis where even the best weekend ever still won’t cover my costs, let alone make a profit.

The thing about this business is that it’s all experimentation. Right now, my focus needs to be on getting my new house ready to live in (and furnished, LOL), finishing up Conviction and The Island, and starting on Fusion. If I do an event, it needs to be worth my time and money. The last major convention on my immediate calendar is WorldCon, which I’m using to make more connections in the industry.

Maybe once my life dies down a little, I’ll return to conventioning. But right now I’ve put in a lot of effort and the reward doesn’t match expectation. I’m hoping that the seeds I’ve planted in…

  1. Baltimore, MD
  2. Fairfax, VA
  3. Virginia Beach, VA
  4. Annapolis, MD
  5. Herndon, VA
  6. Richmond, VA
  7. Chattanooga, TN
  8. Richmond, VA (again)
  9. New York City, NY
  10. Pensacola, FL
  11. Indianapolis, IN
  12. Chicago, IL
  13. Richmond, VA (again)
  14. Virginia Beach, VA (again)
  15. Lake Charles, LA
  16. Miami, FL
  17. Plus my two totally not-worth-it book signings

Will continue to grow as they have been. But for now, I need to rest.

Published inBusiness of Indie Publishing Series
%d bloggers like this: