This weekend was my first convention table-vending experience at the Chicago Steampunk Exposition. As a special guest presenter I was given a prime spot right near the entrance to the vendor exhibition area, brought five copies of each of my steampunk, cyberpunk, and roleplaying game books to sell, along with hundreds of business cards, bookmarks, flyers, and assorted swag to give away.
I was afraid nobody was going to buy any of my books, and hoped I’d sell out so wouldn’t need to slog any of them home, and found the truth to be somewhere between those two points. Overall I was satisfied with how hand-selling went.
Far more valuable, though, were the interactions and introductions with people – both the other vendors, far more experienced at this game than I – with the audiences in my panels, and with people at the convention in general. It’s exhausting, but I genuinely do enjoy meeting new people.
Set-up for the convention took up most of my last month, both in preparing materially and getting the presentations I was to give straight in my head. Getting all the books, banner, and booth materials printed up was neither cheap nor quick, and the raw income from sales didn’t quite meet what we spent, but my hopes weren’t pinned on selling a lot of books.
No, what I want is to see a lot of residual sales. I’ll be watching the on-line sales of my books over the next month or so, seeing if there’s a noticeable spike from people who weren’t budgeted to buy a book at the time, but took one of my cards or bookmarks with them. Seeing if anyone who bought book 1 in a series goes on to pick up more.
Of course I won’t have the data to match up the people I met at the con with specific sales, but the numbers themselves should tell me something. And if nothing else, I have leftover stock and materials for the next event I’m invited to.
Now I sit here writing this, feeling the con crud inflame my throat and send the first chills through my skin, and there’s no question whether or not this was worth it.
It absolutely was.