Okay. I’m out of bed and have no intention of returning, so maybe I’ll post a blog thing longer than 200 words.
You may recall that I attended a convention last weekend.
I said this yesterday, but not everybody read that so I’ll say it again: the real short version of this post is “I had a lot of fun at C2E2 and I have absolutely no intention of doing it again.” C2E2 is a hell of a con, guys. You should absolutely find time to go to C2E2 as a fan. I’d love to go again just to soak the place up and hit a panel or two, which I wasn’t able to do since I spent the entire weekend at my booth. But I don’t see how anybody other than the big vendors is able to make money at this thing. I lost a shitton of money doing this convention, and had I had to stay at a hotel rather than with a friend, it would have been much, much worse. Now, again: I had fun, I met a lot of people, and I’m pretty sure I created a few fans, so it’s not like the weekend was a total loss. But I’m pretty damn sure there’s no way for a small vendor to make any real money at this thing.
Good stuff: I got to see the Goldens again, who swung by and bought another book. It’s amazing how something as simple as saying hi to one person who you met on Twitter or through blogging can make your day, and this is the second convention we’ve overlapped at.
On Saturday, I had a lady come by and immediately ask to buy all of my books. One of each, I mean, not my entire stash. I gleefully agreed but raised an eyebrow at it, and she said that she was a librarian and had a patron who had specifically requested that she look for me. Hopefully that person reveals themselves, because I let the name of the library fall out of my head and I’d love to know where the books ended up.
I had two different people buy books on Friday or Saturday and come back on Sunday for more. That, also, was awesome.
Cosplayers are just about my favorite people. The first day there was a million Deadpools; the second day was heavy on Harley Quinn. Both were represented well on all three days, of course– and, in fact, the first cosplayer I saw was a Harley (a male, Asian Harley, which was especially awesome) but it was interesting the way they seemed to cluster.
In general, moving in and out was well-organized, although the wait to get back out was kind of long. You can tell the folks running this convention are pros. I still can’t believe everything got set up on time.
Not as good stuff: You are invisible at C2E2 in a small booth unless you are forcibly and deliberately interacting with everyone who walks by. There’s too much to see, and people have to have some specific reason to look at you or they literally won’t even see you. Which means that my traditionally somewhat passive small-convention method of interaction wasn’t going to work, and we figured out quickly that we needed to directly hand bookmarks to people. Some of them would stop and talk about books, and some of those would buy, but without that initial “Hey, I’m right here” moment, it just wasn’t going to happen. The fact that the booths on either side of me were kind of vertical didn’t help. I handed out over a thousand bookmarks in three days. Traditionally after a con I’ve seen a bump in online sales, which hasn’t happened with C2E2, so I’m kind of begrudging that money, but if I hadn’t had the bookmarks it’s entirely possible that I would have only made five or six sales the entire weekend.
Speaking of, if I hand you a bookmark, and later I find that bookmark on the floor, you can be damned sure I’m going to pick that bookmark up and give it to someone else. That’s my money you just dropped on the floor. It only happened twice, though. 🙂
Day Three was Kids’ Day. Honestly, had I realized that and thought about it, I might have reconsidered the entire thing, because that meant that Sunday was probably 75% kids in Halloween costumes being shepherded along by stressed-out parents worried about losing their anklebiters in the crowd, and by noon it was 75% exhausted and tantrumy kids in Halloween costumes being either pushed or carried by those parents. Either way, that’s not a crowd that is interested in buying science fiction for adults. Somebody selling YA books might have had better luck, but that’s not what I write. Sunday was my worst day of the convention by a long shot; I sold three times as many books on Friday as I did on Sunday, and nearly five times as many on Saturday. Still fun, but the crowd that was nearly entirely my people on Friday and Saturday really turned on me on Sunday. Be prepared for this shift if you’re going to be a vendor at this thing.
So, yeah. I need to find some actual book festivals in the Midwest, actual readers’ conventions, because I can’t afford to keep losing money at these things. I can only say “It was fun and worth it for the networking and the experience” so many times before I’m just being stupid. I can afford to lose a couple hundred dollars at an InConJunction or Starbase, but the outlay necessary for C2E2 just wasn’t worth it.