Here are some ramblings on why I focus my book business on live events.
Before writing books, I got my first case of entrepreneur-itis organizing local concerts. I set up shows at local bars that I could talk into opening the doors for the all-ages scene, and bigger halls for full day events. Some of the shows had hundreds of kids show up, all ready to rock.
When I got into putting my stories to paper, I had no idea what I was doing as far as the internet was concerned. I don’t think I had even met a Kindle at that point. So I went with what I knew – live events. Since my books are full of illustrations and I considered myself as much an illustrator as I did a writer, comic conventions seemed like a good fit.
I knew that books could be a tough sell in a show where you’re surrounded by tons of great artwork. Lucky for me, I had a couple secret weapons to help me get started.
My books are full of illustrations so going as visual as possible with my display made sense. And since I draw and was a graphic designer by trade, prettying up my table setup wasn’t much of a stretch. If art doesn’t come naturally to you, check out my Eye Candy article for some ideas to spice up your display.
The concert days also gave me some experience in merchandising. I had been working directly with bands, making t-shirts, CDs, and buttons – things to give out or sell to people that already had their albums. Since I only had two books when I started doing conventions, this seemed like the way to go.
And it worked.
I’ve done a lot of shows since starting and have had plenty of time to refine what I bring to the table. For example, so long, T-shirts! While they are a nice things to have for fans, they’re super bulky to bring on the road when you’re hauling boxes of books. I’ve also done a lot to improve my display. Check out the Setting the Stage article to see how things have come along.
As writers or authors, we have to spend a lot of time working/living in our little vacuums whether its to charge up the imagination or to get our butts in the seat and start bringing our ideas to life. While I know selling books online is waaay more scalable than just doing shows, it’s nice to be able to break away from the computer and see what’s outside your bubble. Being able to meet people who are excited to check out your work, and seeing old readers come back for more is really great.
Walking away from a show with a wad full of cash isn’t bad either.
If you think bringing your wares to comic conventions is something that might be up your alley (get it? ‘cuz Artist Alley… okay), check out my Author’s Guide to Comic Conventions post.