Notes from Baltimore Comic Con 2013 by Cerece Rennie Murphy

Oder of SeersThe two second version: Definitely worth a try.

The Set-Up – The conference was 2 days this year, which was perfect.  Next year, I hear they are planning to go to 3.)

–        The fee was $200 for a table (not a booth) in the Artist Alley section.  This comes with a 6’ table covered in a white table cloth with 2 plastic folding chairs.  I got 2 badges with my booth with the option to buy an additional 2 badges for $10 each.

–        The distinction between the table and the booth is significant because most of my presentation materials are designed for a booth (banners, poster boards with easels) and you can’t attach anything to the walls behind you.  I improvised, but it was really tight and not ideal.  This is a good space for one of those retractable banner stands.  I got a good recommendation for a place that makes them if anyone is interested.

–        I had one person with me at my table for both days.

The Results – I sold over 100 books in 2 days.  That’s more than I sold in 4 days at Wizard Con in Philly.

–        Being able to “package” more than one book made a big difference.  On Saturday, which was the busiest day, I pitched the books as “$10 each” and sold out of almost 2 full cases of the first book in addition to selling more than half a case of the 2nd book.  On Sunday, which was significantly less crowded, my sister took over and pitched the books as 2 for $20.  The difference in perceived value was dramatic.  Not only did I sell more books on Sunday, despite the drop in traffic, I sold more sets.  This difference may be obvious to veterans of this game, but I was shocked to see the impact of this small change in marketing.

–        The new Order of the Seers poster went over REALLY well.   So did the reusable bags.  Both were free with purchase.  I gave folks a choice between the 2 and many people chose the poster despite the utility of the bag. (Thanks Stanley Weaver!)

–        $10 a book continues to be a good price point for me.

–        Got over 50 new names for my mailing list. Yay permission marketing!

–        I got to pitch several RIB author books while I was chatting folks up and signing copies.  I had many of the RIB books I’ve read on hand and whenever I got the inevitable “You’re like the only black/ black female/female author of sci-fi I have ever heard of besides Octavia Butler,” I whipped out my book collection and started talking.  It was quick and it was fun to talk about you guys! The lesson here is that physical copies of the book (or some representation of the book e.g. postcards, flyers, etc.) really help in introducing other authors.  It also really helped that I had read the books so that I could talk about them as a reader, not just someone who has “heard of these people”.  I also need to make a list of authors that I’ve read so that I can just hand it out.  People were so excited to hear about you guys that I often just ended up ripping off a piece of paper from my sign-in book and writing your names/books down.  There was significant interest in authors of color in the areas of horror, fantasy, general sci-fi and mystery.

–        I was, once again, the only black female selling a novel she had written in any genre.  Ella, please correct me if I am wrong here, but I didn’t see anyone.

Bottom-line: I will be there next year.  The low table cost made it very easy to make a profit. I also live very close to Baltimore, so that helped tremendously. Next up NY Comic Con 2013 (October 10th – 13th).

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