Thursday, May 21, 2015

Convention Season!

It's that time, again. Convention season. Grab the big red wagon and stuff it full of our gear. And that's the trick.

Eight years ago we began doing this sort of thing the same way many authors new to conventions tend to do - grab a stack of business cards and books, maybe a paper tablecloth, and head out. Experience does teach.
Now, we have a list of things, with the rule being that it all must be transportable at once by two people. What things you ask?

1. Ten paperback copies of each stand-alone novel and five sets of Dancer series.
2. Twenty-four download cards for each novel/series (our best sellers due to price).
3. One sturdy tablecloth with velcro for attached banner.
4. Two banners and stand.
5. Enough wire grid panels for a four-level tower and single level stand for the download cards to be clipped on.
6. Locomotive sculpture to attract folks to latest novel.
7. Business cards and candy, with a toad statue to hold the latter.
8. Two pillows for the chairs.
9. Two complete steampunk outfits with hats.
10. One iPad for showing video. Another to take point-of-sale transactions via Square.
11. One sign for each novel/series to afix to tower.
12. Water and snacks.

The bulk of this ends up in our red wagon. The rest in a rollable suitcase. The logistics begins a few days ahead of the event itself. Our sign listing prices is checked to ensure we're selling things at the right price - they can't get better at Amazon. Reservations are confirmed and tickets printed.
A full inventory is laid out in their appropriate boxes, and a test is made with our point-of-sale (Square) to ensure it will work. An emergency recharger is itself charged up so we're not caught without our electronics. Everything is checked for damage so that there are no nasty surprises.

Books have been ordered and received. A new banner stand has come in to replaced the previous one that's too worn and battered from many years of travel. We're ready

We've learned that being at a convention, especially a large comic-con, is all about presentation.
Stacking books on a table doesn't remotely cut it. A good display must be three-dimensional, and "attract the lazy eye" as my daughter tends to day. We'll have two wire-grid towers for blurb signs and clipping on our download cards. Props and candy to help banners lure that eye in. A star-sprinkled table cloth with constrasting red runner. Business cards for those who just want to sniff later on our website. Finally, a laid-back form of selling that lets the prospective reader approach with less trepedation. The wife and I will take turns wandering about, keeping ourselves both limber and entertained. Steampunk outfits allow others to be entertained as well, and assure folks we're part of the fun. Getting our pictures taking is a great side benefit, too.

So when that opportunity to shine comes up folks, plan early and plan well. You might not come out making money, but that's never the point. Having fun is, and being remembered is what you're there for.

Kerry
kmtolan.com

2 comments:

Jude Johnson said...

Thanks for the checklist, Kerry! This is most excellent. While I don't get to do cons, I do get to travel now and then to festivals and I find the display set up is vital.
Happy travels and may your sales exceed expectations!

January Bain said...

Very helpful advice! I have travelled extensively to promote my wild life art paintings back on that reincarnation, but have not done so as an author. Your check list will be very useful. Thanks, Kerry!