Posted on

Start Small, Start Local

One of the reasons I do well at the big comic conventions is that I get a lot of time to practice. During the summer, I have a booth at the Kenosha Harbor Market, an outdoor market with produce, arts, crafts, and a taste of the local flavor. This takes place every Saturday, and while it isn’t exactly the comic con crowd, I’ve carved out a nice little niche for myself.

While it’s a bit odd to have monster books on display next to someone selling rutabagas, the show is local, cheap to get into, and a whole lot of people show up every week.

Small comic book shows can be risky. They predominantly feature people selling their collections or comic shops going on the road rather than independent artists. If you can find a local small press show, those can be a natural fit. Unfortunately, small artist focused shows are few and far between.

If you do have a local market that you can weasel your way into, try it out or at least wander around for a day to see if there’s anyone doing something similar to what you bring to the table. Here are some things I’ve learned since doing my local show:

• It’s pretty inexpensive, long term. There were some big expenses right out the gate for this show – buying a pop-up tent, getting tables, the general display stuff. However, those costs all dwindle down if you’re able to use the equipment over and over.

• Repeat customers. There are some pros and cons with this one. While you get to see the same folks over and over and build your cult following, you have to be able to give them something new every once in a while. I don’t produce a book every week, so I’ve had to expand into some quick and easy things to offer my audience. This includes buttons, artwork, and everybody’s favorite, ZomBeans.

• Selling books or paper products outdoors can be a real bummer, what with weather being a thing. Make sure to protect your product in the big, scary outdoors. Plastic totes do the trick. If rain does roll into the forecast, that can really wipe out the attendance of outdoor shows and kill sales. That’s why I focus on doing a repeating show rather than finding a bunch of different annual shows. The annual shows may introduce you to a different crowd, but if weather ruins it, it won’t do you any good. If you have a chance to do a weekly or monthly show repeatedly, weather becomes less of a factor since your spreading the whole thing out. And if the show has built up its own hardcore audience, they’re more likely to come out in the rain than people would for annual shows.

That’s all I’ve got for now but I’ll update this post whenever new things pop into my head. Please leave any questions you have in the comments below.

Authors! Want to shiny up your display at live events? Check out Ratatat Graphics for custom illustration. See your characters brought to life in the glorious Second Dimension!!!