The third annual Dino Con has come and gone.
Like the last two years, this con was a blast. These smaller shows allow for more interactions, better chances of rubbing shoulders with minor celebs, and more visibility. This time, we stayed in the Heartwood Inn & Spa where we had that marvelous french toast to die for! We were given the honeymoon suite, which was its own little house on the property.
This was also a special year in that my spouse and cover artist, Tyson Villeneuve won the art contest and was invited to be a special guest.
He also volunteered to be the moderator for the celebrity panels, giving him the opportunity to interview actor and stuntman Eugene Brave Rock, (known for his role as the Chief in Wonder Woman).
He received his first offer to commission his art and the actual Ghostbusters set vehicle randomly pulled into the parking lot at the expo for repairs!
It was so nice to finally see him get the recognition he deserves for all the hard work he’s put into his art over the years. That alone made the entire trip worth it.
I, on the other hand, didn’t do as well. Sales wise that is.
Dino con went from being one of the highest in terms of sales to the absolute lowest.
This had me scratching my head because my display was the same, my pitch was the same, show attendance was comparable, and competition was minimal. What could possibly be the reason for this massive drop off?
Now, I already expected to bring in less money due to only having the Eye of Verishten with me. A shipping snafu resulted in me not receiving the new Immortal Serpents in time. To compensate, I had the sexy Behind the Mask Editions front and center, so I figured it would at least look like there were more options on the table. I also brought my personal copy of IS in case anyone wanted to order it from me directly. And yet, people avoided my table like the plague, barely looking my way and the few that did, didn’t even take a bookmark. Who doesn’t want free bookmarks? I ended up selling one hardcover on Saturday and got a real good talk out of it so thank you, Marissa!
By the end of the day, I concluded that there simply weren’t enough readers in the crowd. That had to be it. However, the next morning, I heard that the one other author at the show was selling just fine. Better than fine… thirty times more than me fine. I guess there were plenty of readers after all. I wanted to pick her brain more, but she had packed up and left after the first day.
At that point, I was desperately searching for rationalizations for my own failure. I must be in a bad location, too far from the entrance and buried between distracting booths. Alright then, easy fix. I pushed my diorama out farther, stacked books higher; Tyson angled his table to funnel people toward me instead of past our aisle. That helped a little in keeping people from missing my books, but I still couldn’t garner interest in the books themselves, even when I was the only author there! I made a few more sales that day, but they were, ‘I’d like to support you’ sales as opposed to ‘this book looks legitimately interesting’ sales. Of course, they’re appreciated all the same.
One thing I did notice was that a number of people who came up to the booth picked up my lone Immortal Serpent first. This reiterated my previous expo observations that the IS covers attract more attention than the EOV ones. Although, I think it would have made a minor difference given that actual sales between to the two titles have always been fairly equal.
I asked a few of my con buddies for their opinion. They suggested incorporating brighter colors and bigger banners (which I’m working on). Someone else mentioned that attendees from previous years would have already seen my booth or bought my books. Without anything new to entice them, why should they come over? Of course my brain is responding with, “They could check if I have anything new or ask when Part 2 of Bloodstone Dagger is coming out since they are so eager to find out what happens next. No? Okay, I’ll see myself out.”
It wasn’t until the end of Sunday when I learned the other author’s secret from her neighbor. She used more aggressive sales tactics than I did. She engaged more readily with everyone who passed by, something the introvert in me cringes at the thought of doing. I tend to let the booth bring the people to me where I can then engage them more or less on their terms.
After much deliberation, I’ve decided to shake up my sales strategy in the following ways:
1. New banners: I need to make an eye-popping banner that really showcases what I’m about. One big one behind me and a long one along the table. It needs to draw attention, make it clear that I’m an author, and shows the types of books I write. I can’t tell you how many people over the years, including this show have asked me ‘Did you write these books?’ Obviously, it’s not obvious by my table of books that I’m the author.
2. More titles: I need to write faster and produce more. Having few titles with different covers won’t cut it. I can engage people easier if I have more to offer. This also brings me to my next booth idea. With more books on the table comes less places to put them, so I’m going to transform my booth into a mini library with trinkets and 3D models decorating the shelves. Tyson and I purchased a 3D printer and have a lot of neat things planned, so stay tuned.
3. YA Experiment: Tyson and I started throwing around the idea of experimenting with the YA genre. Now, I know I’m always saying that I’m strictly not and have no intention of becoming a YA author, but what if I tried it… just this once? What if I wrote a quick little YA with all the supernaturally, love triangle fixings topped off with a simple cover easily recognizable for fans of that genre? Could it sell enough to make these cons financially viable while freeing up the resources to write the adult stories that really matter to me? Something to consider, but it won’t be happening until well after I complete the Bloodstone Dagger series.
4. Engage more with passersby: I need to make more of an effort to get people’s attention with more than just a ‘hello.’ I could do more to let them know I’m an author, invite them to check out the new editions/titles, showcase my award and reviews as uncomfortable as it makes me. The worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no and continue on by. I also need to come up with more gimmicks to capture interest from non-readers as well, for the purpose of making it look like things are happening at my booth and attract attention that way.
Despite the dismal sales, I didn’t come away empty handed. I won a free set of D&D dice by rolling a 20 and found Jeff Powers Illustrations who is willing to draw an encyclopedia of characters for me (or as many as I can afford.) I hope to make character collector cards for the booth as well for use in a special project I’m working on. He also agreed to trade a ‘Second Breakfast Club’ mug for an EOV.
Get it? It’s like ‘Breakfast Club’ but Hobbits? Okay, good.
In light of all the exciting projects in my future, I have some not-so-exciting news. I will not be attending Saskatchewan or Edmonton Expos this year. I will post a news update as to why that is shortly, but I do plan on exhibiting at the Holiday Expo in order to unload these old EOVs.
The next time I show up at the larger cons, I hope to have a fresh new look, two new titles (maybe three) and a more positive attitude. So please, don’t you...duhduh, duh, duhduh duh duh... forget about me.