Breaking into the industry

Reasons you’re not selling at conventions

Hours tick away and you’re still behind your table, wondering why nobody has already bought anything you put on it. Doubts and questions crowd into your head, while your self-esteem leaks away like water. The following list of dos and don’ts will help you to avoid desolation and poor sales at comicons.

Table position and arrangement

If the location of your table is bad, there’s still something you can do to drag attention on it.

Be recognizable with banners and posters

Make a banner with your name and some of your art on it. Place it high on the wall behind you or use it to dress your table. Colorful posters on columns and walls will help, too.

Visitors should guess “at first glance” who you are and what kind of stuff you’re offering. They’ll eventually walk away, but those who are interested will pick a card or come back later.

marquette_sagra-dei-fumetti-2013_foto_stand_marika_dallocco

Niki Batsprite’s marquette. Photo: Marika Dallocco.

When arranging things on your table, consider the flow. At first, observe the come-and-go and place a stop item at the “come” corner. In my case, it’s a 16cm statue of Niki Batsprite I commissioned for this reason.
Use the center of your table to showcase your best items, those you want to sell a lot. Highlight discounts and special offers.
Use the opposite corner for the cheaper stuff. If a walking visitor is thinking he can’t afford or like anything else, he may change his mind here.

Make changes

If you’re initial arrangement doesn’t work as expected, try to mirror or change it. This will also make your table look “new” to roaming visitors, who may throw a second glance.

The art and the author

You worked your best to put together awesome art and exhibit at the show. Maybe you put so much effort you forgot yourself.

You are your art’s business card.

Look clean and smell nicely

Nobody wants to approach an homeless-looking person. Brush your hair, wear clean clothes and wash yourself more than usual if you need to. Visitors won’t blame you for looking tired, they will if you look unpleasant.

Daniele wears a Venom T-shirt while posing with Guardians of the Galaxy. Do you get the sneak peak?

Daniele wears a Venom T-shirt while posing with Guardians of the Galaxy. Do you get the sneak peak?

Dress casual with style

Choose clothes that don’t eyesore between them or with the stuff in your booth: you’re supposed to be able to match colors. You don’t need to dress elegant, just casual with style.

My husband Daniele is a great example about it: being a superhero expert and collector, he wears a different themed T-shirt every day, and recently got a Captain America’s shield-bag. He’s become well known among visitors and other exhibitors. They wonder which T-shirts he’ll wear the next day, and which news and secrets he’ll share while having a word at the booth.

Do not cosplay. Just don’t

Dressing a superhero T-shirt or your favourite character’s charm is very different from cosplaying or dressing gothic in full. In the latter case, you just cross the line.

You simply cannot cosplay while selling at your booth: you must decide between playing and working.

Like I wrote about to fanart or not to fanart, you’ll look unprofessional and focused (even obsessed) by a character, brand or style which are not yours. Visitors may guess you’re not interested in a decent conversation about other topics.

Smile, please.

Smiling is the most important thing of all. Visitors don’t know about your struggle to get where you are, neither they know about your problems and fears.
Comic conventions offer much more than a temporary shop. You promote yourself, meet people, make friends, learn things and get news. Sales are just a part of all this. If this time you don’t break even, it doesn’t mean you’ll come back empty-handed.

Just by completing your comic book and offering it at a show, you accomplished far more than many visitors and wannabes out there. Be proud and cheer up.

Me, Daniele and our friends celebrating a joyful ending after exhibiting at Lucca Comics & Games 2013.

Me, Daniele and our friends celebrating a joyful ending after exhibiting at Lucca Comics & Games 2013.

Meet your neighbors

If your booth’s neighbors are free, have a talk with them. You’ll make friends, or at least allies, and probably learn something new. When seeing you chatting with other exhibitors, visitors will think you’re active and business-oriented. Just don’t bother your neighbor and be ready to pause the conversation when visitors approach.

Body language

Your body language will have great impact, so don’t overlook it. No matter how tired you are, do your best to keep your back and shoulders straight. Don’t let visitors guess you’re too exhausted for a talk to introduce your stuff.

Draw

If nobody approaches and you get bored, start drawing.
Time will pass faster and visitors may stop by to look at your magic. If you’re exhibiting alone (which I do not recommend) be careful not to alienate, or you may lose a potential pitch.