A few weeks ago, I announced that myself and ComixTribe would be setting up shop at the 2011 New York Comic Con. That show is just two months away.
While I’ve certainly been active on the convention circuit these past few years, NYCC will be the largest show I’ve tabled at to date. And while I’ve become quite comfortable with doing small and mid-sized shows, New York is definitely in another league from what I’m used to.
So, the question is, how do I prepare for a show like this? Now, if you’ve been following my columns for a few years, you know I’ve tackled the topic of conventions before. I wrote about prepping for my first comic convention back in 2009, and followed that up with an article on attending Baltimore Comic Con, my first mid-sized show, a year later. But again, New York is basically the equivalent of ten Baltimore Comic Cons under one roof, stretched out over twice as many days. It’s a different beast all together.
What I’d like to do is walk through some of my thinking regarding how I plan to tackle a show like this. Maybe these thoughts will help you prepare for a major show in the future.
Tip #1 – Recon
While this will be my first time tabling at NYCC, it will not be my first time attending. I’ve actually been to New York Comic Con twice, so I know how the show works. I know the general layout, and how crazy it gets on Saturday. I’ve been to a bunch of panels, and remember many of them quite well. So, while setting up as a vendor will be a new experience, the show itself will not. In general, I’d recommend checking out the big shows as a spectator once or twice before setting up shop there. You’ll find plenty of examples of folks doing things right, and a few who are clearly doing it wrong.
Short of actually going to the show, I recommend conducting some internet research, to get a sense of how past shows have operated. A quick Google search will unearth tons of blogs full of NYCC recaps from other creators and vendors. There are plenty of podcasts out there with archived episodes discussing big shows like NYCC in detail. Learn from other’s mistakes and successes. That’s not cheating. That’s smart.
Tip #2 – Take Advantage of Free Publicity
One thing you’ll quickly find out about these BIG shows…they’re BIG money makers. Shows like this attract major crowds, major crowds equal major numbers of eyeballs, and where there are eyeballs, there are plenty of huge companies looking to get their products in front of them. And the companies that run these shows (Reed in the case of NYCC) aren’t afraid to charge for it all.
Want a banner add on the Reed website? Pay $1,500-$4,000 a month. Want to put something in the official NYCC VIP gift bag? $2,000, plus the cost of producing 5,000 units of your schwag. Want to upgrade your listing on the NYCC interactive map? They’ve got plans available from $99-$500.
We live in a capitalist society, and good for Reed for charging for things that have real value. I’m sure some companies with six figure marketing budgets find these offering well worth the investment. But for the bootstrapping young creatives, most of those “marketing opportunities” seem comical.
That doesn’t mean you don’t do anything, however. The first move is to make sure you take advantage of all opportunities that don’t cost you a thing. These are things like:
- Submitting images and bios for the official websites.
- Submitting information about show exclusive books and merchandise. (You ARE going to have show exclusives, aren’t you?)
- Submitting panels.
Tip #3 – Pre-Show Promotion
- ComixTribe Takes Manhattan Digital Preview Book . ComixTribe will likely be debuting five new books at New York Comic Con. That’s exciting, but that’s also a difficult venture. It’s tough to get interest and eyeballs at the show itself, as it’s an environment that lends itself to sensory overload. So, next month, in advance of the show, I’ll be releasing a special digital book previewing all of the new titles, featuring covers, 5-8 pages of the books, and more. This will be a release similar to the FREE COMIC BOOK DAY offering, which, to date, has been read by more than 10,000 people. That’s a lot of eyeballs, and can only help add interest and awareness to what we’re doing.
- Free Sketch Card giveaway. My offer to draw free sketch cards for a limited number of attendees who contact me in advance of the show has been a tried and true method of getting people to seek me out at shows. It’s been a well received promotion, and often leads to new fans. The hardest thing has been getting the word out about the promotion to interested attendees.
- Video Promos – I’ll be working on short video trailers for all the comics we’re debuting at the show. YouTube is the second most searched engine in the world behind Google, and video is incredibly powerful. With NYCC coming up, and debuts about to be made, I can’t think of a better time to release some video content for these books. Here’s an example of a video I just cut to tease THE RED TEN.
Category: Comix Counsel