Saturday, May 6th, my first time tabling in 11 years. My first time tabling at a Free Comic Book Day in 12 years. My first time ever tabling in NYC (Brooklyn) at Anyone Comics. So, how was it?
In a word:
As you can tell by the pic to the left I went pretty minimalist at my table. No prints. No merch. Just straight up comics (and where to find my online).
Since it's been so long that I actually tabled, I went somewhat conservative to the event, basically reintroducing to the scene. And an activity like this one was perfect for me to get my feet wet again at going out to activities.
The experience was invaluable because it put to the test things I have been advising to colleagues for a while now.
Do not take social media interaction (or lack there of) be the gospel truth of what is going to sell and what not. At the end of the day, you can't decide what's going to sell, the customers decide what's going to sell ultimately.
If you read my webcomics, you might recognize one of my more popular webstrips I've done: Never Mind and The Cannon Girl.
And you might also recognize one of my least interacted with and quite honestly my lowest selling comic online, Stupid the Cat.
I was admittedly going back and forth with myself debating if I should take physical copies of Stupid with me, judging by how little reactions it gets online compared to other comics I have online.
It ended up being my second biggest seller of the day and was almost neck and neck with Project: New Wave. Followed by The Cannon Girl and then Never Mind. If I had ignored my gut feeling and not practice what I preached, I would've missed out.
Project: New Wave was talked about quite a bit by the onlookers at my table, and so was Stupid, easily. There are a few factors that I think contributed to this:
1- Amy Reeder was the big guest artist at the activity, and I was tabling next to her. So it was a pretty young crowd and kids going with their parents that were mostly at the activity. Project: New Wave of course looks like a traditional super hero book (with such amazing artwork by Manuel A Carmona and Francisco Rivera), and the people that took Stupid the Cat, just really liked the art style in it, because in their word "it's so different than what's out there!". So being close to Amy Reeder definitely helped with the foot traffic and curious onlookers.
Also, Stupid the Cat was really the only family friendly comic on my table that any kid or younger people could pick up and read, so that definitely helped to at least appeal to that audience as well.
2- As I mentioned earlier: Do not judge everything completely on social media interaction. If I had let myself not take Stupid because it lacked social media interaction compared to other projects, I would had missed out on those sales, and missed out on the in person perception of the comic. As I have always pleaded with other colleagues- please do not be discouraged because you don't have as much likes or shares or retweets that you think you should have. If you're not selling your digital comics as much as you wish you did, still, take a chance and take copies with you along with your most popular ones, because going to an activity like this one or to a comic convention, being at a place with people in real life, you never know if that one comic you thought would sell might not, and the one you think won't just might surprise you.
3- One customer that got Stupid the Cat praised my table because of the variety of comics it had. That doesn't mean you HAVE to dabble in different genres if you don't like it or that you have to have one million comics going on at the same time, BUT, if you at least have 2-3 comics of the same series and also maybe a trade, that really helps make your table stand out and sends a message to potential customers: you buy from me you'll be seeing new material sooner rather than later, so hop on my brand.
4- Having banners and customized table clothes is SUPER nice, but, especially if you're starting out, it's not really necessary. The grand total that I spent on the table cloth, the 4 stands to hold up the comics and the mini lettered board, and the actual mini board itself all together? $17.50 (not including tax and what not). The Dollar Store and 5 Below is your BEST FRIEND when you're starting out or on a tight budget to make your table look nice and stand out in it's own way. I went for the checkered black and white cloth because it was actually on brand for the covers I made of the mini-comics/zines, plus, it made Project: New Wave catch people's eyes because the gorgeous coloring absolutely POPPED off in contrast to the mostly black and white table.
5- You will always run into snarky comments, even in person. Under NO circumstances take it seriously, brush it off, more than likely you will never even see that person again. There was one father with his child that went to get Amy Reeder stuff. The kid was really happy and kind of looking around. The parent was looking at tables and mumbling to himself. He asked the girl if she found anything for herself, she says "maybe one more thing". Then he looks up and looks at a few tables and said pretty loudly "that more than me..." Some people glanced, others kind of looked down, I looked out of the corner of my eyes and chuckled. I thought to myself "enjoy your more mainstream stuff, friend, I'm having the time of my life here!" If you've worked in retail or customer service before, you might know where I'm coming from. You can't please everyone but especially don't take it personally and don't validate snark by even giving mean looks back, keep pushing forward, my friends!
6- A lot of people hand a lot of merch and prints, to the point where they had their own comics in a small corner of their table and the prints were prominently displayed. I'm not saying that's necessarily a bad thing, especially if you have no new comic to offer, but, what usually happens and I saw this a lot, people ended up buying more prints and stickers and pins than the actual comic.
7- Just as I said to not judge what to sell solely on social media alone, adjust and pivot depending on what even you're going to and keep in mind what target audience usually goes to those activities/con. And most importantly, keeps tabs on what you sell and how many, because that will help you gauge on what to take more of for the next activity and what to take less of. Adapt.
All in all, I have a FANTASTIC time. I talked to a few colleagues, reconnected with old friends, and started to get less and less nervous as time went on. I probably missed sales I could have made because I fumbled over myself delivering the pitch for the comics I had there. But on the other hand, I had QR codes I made for both the TC site and my personal site, and Instagram, and got quite a few new followers and who knows, maybe potential customers down the line or readers for the webcomics! So bonus observation: always try to have a website, even if it's simple.
That's all from me for now, as always, thank you all SO MUCH for reading, I'll likely make more observations and blog posts, especially after Comics de Mayo this Saturday.
Until next time, take care and stay creative, my friends!