By Margena Holmes
Like most authors, I’m an introvert. I will figure out a way to not have to talk to people face-to-face, preferring to email or text people rather than even talk on the phone. So going to a Comic Con is probably the last place an introvert like me would want to go, right? Well, if I want to sell my books, I gotta do the thing—talk to people.
When I had a booth at my first comic con, I had no idea what to expect. I had only been to one comic con as a cosplayer, not an author. I called it my “reconnaissance mission”—scoping out what other authors were doing (and I ended up buying three books!). With that, and asking my daughter, who had been to plenty of comic cons, what I should have on my table (besides books), I felt I was ready to sell, sell, sell. I sold nothing on the first day. How discouraging. Little did I know that the first day is notoriously slow for sales. The second day, Saturday, was my best day. I made a few sales and was happy about it. But I had no idea how to engage with people. I waited until they stopped to look at the books, pick up the book to read the back copy, then I’d talk to them. When they asked what the book was about (some asked before reading the back copy) I went into a long spiel about the entire book. Too long, I might add. I did get some sales with it, however.
One year at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference, Todd Fahnestock held a workshop called Conquering the Con. I HAD to go to that one! I was surprised to not see more people there, but maybe cons aren’t for everyone. I took notes, but some of what he said stuck with me without referring back to my notes.
What to Do
Plaster a smile on your face. I’m usually smiling anyway, so that was fairly easy, plus there was entertainment by the cosplayers all day long (I’m looking at YOU, Michael Myers).
Stand up! If you’re sitting down, people may not see you. Also, if you’re standing, you’re already at eye level for most people. With my back issues, it was hard, and I did sit sometimes, but I tried to stretch as I sat to be ready to stand again.
I think the best advice from Todd’s workshop was how to engage people. Talk about their costume. Ask them what they like to read. The best idea for me was to ask if they wanted to hear about a book. Every person said “Yes,” so I proceeded to tell them about the first book of my series. I had written down a short blurb that I memorized and changed up a little bit each time instead of giving them the whole back copy, which they could read on their own. I ended up selling the three-book series to most people I talked with, and at least the first book to others.
Todd had a booth at the most recent Colorado Springs Comic Con, five booths from me. I walked down to his booth and told him I had attended his workshop and was going to utilize his ideas. He said to let him know how it goes. I was happy to visit him in the last hour of the last day of the con and tell him that I’d had my best Comic Con ever. He congratulated and high-fived me!
If Todd Fahnestock has another workshop on Comic Cons, I would strongly suggest going to it! I already had some things right, but you can always learn more, and what I learned truly helped me engage people and get those sales.
Margena Adams Holmes has been writing ever since she can remember, writing her first poem in 1st grade. At her day job, when she’s not kicking young kids out of R-rated movies, she’s sweeping up spilled popcorn from the hallways and aisles (she’s not your mother, though, so please take your trash out). Her days off consist of writing science fiction, short stories, and more movie theater shenanigans. Reading is a close second to writing, and she normally has her nose buried in a book. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.