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  • Writer's pictureSteve Bynoe

Con 101

2015 was a year of firsts, but none were more special than my first foray as a self-publisher into the world of comic book conventions. Now that world and all it had to offer wasn't a total mystery to me as I'd been covering them for my magazine Comix Asylum since 2013. What was new however, was what it would be like on the other side of the display table. I'd interviewed several artists for Asylum over the years and always took note of their displays and how they arranged the artwork and merchandise on their tables.

After publishing Chronokari Alpha: Time is Relative in 2014 and realizing that promoting the book would be essential to its success, I decided to sign up to exhibit at comic book conventions to get the word out. Even though Time is Relative is a novella and isn't a comic book, I figured that the comic book/sci-fi crowds that frequent those events would be a great place to start. Comic book conventions can span anywhere from one or two days for the smaller ones all the way up to massive 4 day events, like Fan Expo Canada, which can see up to 120, 000 people pass through its doors on a weekend.

My journey began on the West Coast at Fan Expo Vancouver on Easter weekend and I followed that up by exhibiting at Toronto Comicon during March Break. In August I traveled all the way to Barbados for AnimeKon and wrapped up the month at Fan Expo Canada. I then exhibited at London Comic Con in September and finished off the season with a one day show at Gotham Central Comics and Collectibles for Halloween.

Now those are a lot of shows to do and I'd suggest picking one or two conventions in your area first. Starting with the smaller shows is probably a good idea as it will reduce your costs and will give you some time to get used to the frenzy that can be typical of the larger events.

If you're planning to promote your novel or comic book here are some of the tips I picked up during my first year on the road.

1. Book your table or tables ahead of time. The demand for these events is growing rapidly and as more artists and exhibitors try to participate in the cons, space is becoming limited. Choose which convention you'd like to attend and then check their website for admission deadlines.

2. Be personable and work on your pitch. There's a lot to see at these conventions and the public has a lot to chose from. With that in mind when people come by your table, be courteous and engaging and make sure you're able to explain what your book or property is about without any hiccups. You may only have 15 to 20 seconds to grab their attention so make their time with you a memorable one. Even if they don't buy your book at the show, they can always pick it up later if it's for sale online or at a bookstore.

3. Have a business card or some sort of takeaway with your information on it. This allows potential customers to reach you via email or through social media after the con is over.

4. Invest in a banner or roll up stand for your display area. As people walk by your booth or table, an eye-catching display can grab their attention and get them to come over and talk to you. Also display your books prominently and arrange them on your table for maximum effect.

Needless to say there are more tips to pass along but those four are pretty important and will suffice for now. I hope to see some of you indie authors on the convention tour next year. The experience is great and it's a fantastic way to introduce yourself to your current and potential audience. Later this week I'll be back to tell you about an interesting article I came across regarding Twitter and indie publishing. Take care and I'll see you in seven or less.

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