Monday, September 26, 2011

On Conventions

Just got done with Detroit Fanfare.  All in all, it didn't quite work out as well as we hoped (I'm one of the promoters of it) and there's a lot of reasons (not excuses) for that but that's something to be discussed out side the public forum and just with the people directly affected by it which I intend to do.  The attendees all had a fantastic time and we got incredible out pouring of support about it from the fans.

But there were some complaints from some of the folks that set up.  In no way am I going to suggest that some people didn't have a valid point but I was just struck by the vitriol some people had.  

I’ve gone to shows where I’ve sold out of a dozen or more titles…and other shows, where I’ve barely moved a couple.  Attendance doesn’t seem to be a big factor…show with 10K can be slow and  a show with  just 500 can be a huge success.  There doesn’t seem to be any rationale behind it.  If I were just a creator at Fanfare, I would have had a very successful show as I sold 100's of graphic novels and had 3-4 titles completely sold out.  I don't know why.  What is especially puzzling...and a bit that I was rarely behind the table as I was dealing with all the situations that got thrown at us during the convention.  I was too busy to be at my own table yet I had pretty good sales.  I may have found a new strategy.

When I have a bad show in terms of sales…unless it was a complete dud, like this one show I did in Chicago where there were NO people...I would never think of blaming the promoter .  If I sold a single book at a show with a couple thousand people there,  who’s the blame go to…the promoter?  Really?  Does that mean if there were 5,000 people, I would have sold 2 books? And geez, if they got up to 10,000 people, I'd get a whopping 4 books sold.  

The last con I did was Summit City Convention.  I was set up in Artist Alley and I did horribly.  I sold a couple of books...that was it.  It didn't come close to covering my costs (and they even gave me my space).  But it was a great convention.  It was well organized, the staff was fantastic...just about every facet of it was well done and to be commended.  But I didn't sell anything there.  I didn't blame Zack even though the attendance was lighter than expected.  I still should have sold some.  But there was just no interest in me or my stuff there...that's not on anyone.  I've done shows half that size and sold dozens and dozens of books.  To me, Zack did what he was supposed to do as far as the setup and treatment of the guests were and I would recommend the show to any guest that inquired. The attendance wasn't what he wanted but there were people there.  I appreciated him giving me the space but I wouldn't do it again for the foreseeable future.  I don't blame him, I don't blame Fort Wayne (which I found to be a very nice place), and I certainly don't blame the fans of Fort Wayne because they didn't buy my stuff.  Sometimes, things just don't click.  I don't do that well in Chicago as a general rule and that's a pretty large city.

If someone doesn't do well at a show, they have every right to acknowledge that the show wasn't good...FOR THEM.  To make the assumption that because they had a bad show, that means everyone did is just...well, stupid.

You know---just because you have a table at a convention, it does not guarantee sales. It could be for a number of different reasons...your personality, your art, your lack of new material, of just because no one wants your stuff.  Who knows why?  When I'm at a con and things are slow...someone asks me how the show is, I tell them slow. For one, that sums it up and two, it implies that I have no idea of why sales are slagging.  A lot of people like to come up with reasons why but they don't really know.  If we knew, it wouldn't be a problem as we could fix it.   My favorite reason this last weekend was that there were too many good artists at the show so no one would buy this artist's work.

Yes, a creator has every right to be upset and you know, cross that covention off your list.  But to lash out at a promoter, the city, the fans, etc. just makes them look small and petty.  It reeks of displaced frustration.

Conventions can be a lot like comic distribution in the sense that it is very easy to get on equal footing with the bigger names.  But that doesn't automatically mean you're gong to sell like one.

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