The overall good news is that I have not gone broke. All things
accounted for, my promotional efforts are at an overall break-even. And that’s
with a few setbacks, most of which were extraneous to my campaign. Life happens
and screws up plans. The open question is whether this is the most efficient method
of promoting the game or making it viable as a business. Its alternative is
using an advertising vehicle. My plan has always been to do both. I’m not sure
that I am at the point where I can gauge how much of either I should do. My
vending gig is still evolving, and I do not have good advertising leads as yet.
My learning curve is damn steep.
Vending at conventions is just as glamorous as I imagined.
It is somewhat akin to my previous career as a newsstand operator. The physical
mechanics of it are similar. Although us dealers or vendors are similar, we are
not all in the same game. Ultimately you want to sell stuff and make a profit.
A number of dealers I’ve met are engaging at shows in an effort to drive web
traffic. And I have met some vendors who operate at a structural loss, with no seeming
profit motive. The good thing about the general fandom convention space is that
it is clean of predators and scam merchants. Somethings may not be up to par,
some efforts may be delusional, but there’s no one on the make to spring a
swindle. And if you are going to deal with the public, fandom ain’t a bad
branch to hang with.
My fellow vendors have been very helpful. It’s a happy
little tramp village, all in all. Other than weather and locking my keys in the
car, the worst thing to happen to me has been an occasional disappointment.
When compared to my professional life, this is a vacation.
The following are our list of life lesson learned at each of
the following stops:
Gencon: The nice folks at Gamebase7 got us a demo
invite. I did four three-hour sessions right in a row. By the end of session
four, my voice was shot. Thanks to some spot-on promo writing—which I had
little to do with—all four sessions were sold out. Most folks seemed to have
fun. And that’s the point. Next con we intend to have a sales venue available
and perhaps be on the vending floor. Failing that, we may add Origins to our
listing of cons to demo at.
Printer’s Row Lit Fest: Comic books sell to people
when people can find them. I have been using a few baskets of the comics I have
as a method of helping pay for the table. Although my aim is to sell games,
that market is pretty narrow.
Our position was out on the sidewalk in front of a massage
parlor, near the public reading of poetry event. To my left was a happy couple
selling their line of children’s books. They’ve spent a small fortune on
illustrations and printing and whatnot. The books looked nice. They seemed to
do fairly well. To my left was Whisky Tit, an indy publisher out of New York.
They had a line of paperbacks in various fiction genres and were having quite
the social event. In the middle of the road were various tents, denoting the
monied players in this parade. Some of these people were flat out delusional--buying
two tables to promote one book.
Quick: How can you tell the difference between a best-selling
Amazon author and a homeless person?
Answer: You can’t.
Printer’s Row Lit Fest is coming back from the dead, so I
cut them some slack. Their security people were johnny on the spot and all
knowing. The volunteer staff were… Let’s say they there were issues. I was
given every direction to my spot except for the correct one. Luckily, I showed
up early so the only additional expense was to my sanity. They didn’t have that
much of a turnout. (The claim was half a million. In a pig’s eye. Total foot traffic
for all three days was about 60K.) A lot of people walking through the fest
were residents walking their dogs.
I talked to a lot of nice people and that’s worth something.
If I did not break even, I came close. This was my most expensive venture. I
might have done better but… on the third day the Lord said let there be rain.
Unless I can cop some canopy space next time, I am going to
give this a pass.
Southside Comic Book Convention: Rockyfest! Rocky
rules! Rocky was set up next to me at Windy City Pulp and Paper and invited me
to this one day convention in Palos Heights. It set up in a high school gym.
Nice, steady flow of traffic. Nice vendors. Sold a few games. My salvation was
bringing some collector’s comics with me. People would look at my little
display case and they stopped. And some of them pulled out money and bought. A
few comics got a new happy home and my tour got a little shot in the arm.
Stranger Con: I have never seen the Stranger Things
show, nor have I dealt with the promoter Creation Entertainment before. I did
not know what to expect. Media fandom is an odd bunch. Creation stratifies its
crowds—the more you pay, the more you get. The promoter monopolizes the concert
shirt trade, but you are otherwise free to sell whatever you want. Most of the
vendors were what I would call crafters.
Sold a load of comics. Best game sales ever. I am going to
look into other Creation cons. I’m still mystified by their approach, but
whatever they are doing seems to work. At last, a productive use for tech theater
Windycon: I don’t suppose the gangland shooting in
the parking lot on Saturday helped much. Or the Covid surge or the RSV surge or
coming off of a similar con which also didn’t draw much. A few of my pals from
COD CON and Stranger Con were there. Lots of crafters, some way off topic but
there didn’t seem to be a litmus test. We had a smattering of self-published
authors (which would include me) and then packs of people selling pots and
whips and jewelry and space music. (I bought me some space music.) And old books
and movies. And I wasn’t the only game publisher there.
They fed us. The food was good. The programming seemed first
rate. Just not enough folks. If this con comes back, I will come back.
Due to sickness in my household, I have had to neglect this
blog as well as some of my promotional efforts.
I am hoping to start my tour anew in February. We will have
announcements of our next shows and whatnot here in the Wonderblog.