The Other Side of the Booth: First SPX Selling My Comic

by Marjee posted September 15, 2011 category Cons

Fun, exhausting, exhilarating, and totally out of character; a few terms to describe my first experience selling my comic book. There are a few bigger things I want to muse on from the experience, but I figured I wanted to get up a quick note that captures some of my general thoughts about the SPX experience up and out there before I think too much about it and lose a feel for the moment. I should also mention, that while Sandra and I have been working on the comic for more than a year, this was also the first time we met face to face. Needless to say I am glad that she demonstrated that she is as awesome in person as she is virtually.

First off, we sold 65 books!!! That is crazy. The conference is only a total of 14 hours, we had a steady stream of foot traffic and people were really receptive to the elevator pitch for the book. I have been told that this is a major batch of sales for anybody, let alone someone on their first time out at a con. Now, to all my Kickstarters, seriously your books go out in the mail this week or next. I had Sandra in town and we had some wine and signed all your books and we have all of the extras and swag like buttons postcards special art etc ready to go so I will be getting all that out there soon. That said, as the whole premise of the Kickstarter was to get books made to launch at SPX I figured you would want to hear about how it all turned out.

Better than just selling 65 books, the 65 people who bought each of those books are all awesome. It is hard to express how rewarding it is to watch someone flip through your book, listen to your story and say things back to you like “You’re describing my life” and then reach into their pocket and hand you hard cash to walk away with the book. In the category of super rewarding, I had two people come back on day two to tell me that over night they had read the whole book and loved it so much that they had to stop over and tell me. <swoon> Previously Trevor and I had loved going to SPX because it felt like a kind of homecoming for my particular kind of nerd/geek ilk. Talking to people over the 14 hours of the con I was thrilled to feel that same affinity, but at the same time I realized just how diverse a group we really are in terms of age and flavor of geekness (punks, hipsters, big time book nerds etc.)

People responded really well to the the quality of the printing and the paper. Early on we played around with some print on demand services but were not happy with the quality of what we got back. So I went to a local print company, brought some books I liked and we diagnosed them. It ended up costing a good bit of money, but this felt like great validation that I made the right call in having total control over my print run. At one point I gave the copy of a book to one of the publishers and while they were interested in the book they were even more interested in how great the book looked and felt. So much so that they wanted to hear from me about who I worked with. Score.

Everyone else behind the booth was fantastic. It was great to set up and hear stories from our neighbor Orin Wertz who was generous enough to swap books with us. Also, Trevor stopped by Kevin Huizenga’s booth, picked up a copy of a cool mini comic he had and mentioned my booth and book. He mentioned he might stop over and check out the book. For context, Three years ago we bought a stack of Kevin’s books at SPX and brought them with us on our Honeymoon in the Greek islands (here you can see a picture of Trevor drinking a bear on the cruise ship about to read curses.) That stack of honeymoon comics was in fact essential in prompting me to finally get up the nerve to really get serious about making comics. So fast forward to a year ago, when we sat in on a cool SPX panel focused on iconography and symbolism in alt comics in which Kevin explained how he often tries to establish a kind of visual shorthand by representing things that happened earlier in his books which he can then redeploy later. At several points when I was working on the script Trevor and I talked about some of Kevin’s example, so, when he showed up at my booth I was thrilled. Beyond just looking at it he bought a copy.

Invited as part of the Library of Congress SPX collection. The LoC is kicking off a special collection associated with the convention and they invited us to have our book in it. So in the year 3056 when some kind of super cyborg researcher wants to learn about the world of alt comics circa 2011 and they show up at the Library of Congress (or wherever our cyborg overloads keep what was in the Library of Congress) they are going to find my book, and then theoretically begin making wild generalizations about daily life or something. That’s right, they are keeping it for good. I should also add that the book got in despite, not because my husband works there, as when I told the kind women from the Library where my husband works in the Library they told me that he worked for “the dark side.” I assure you, he does nothing dark sided.

I’m excited to share a few more refined thoughts later, potentially about how the square worked for credit card orders, about how pitching the book and watching people interact with it at the booth might prompt me to think a bit differently about the story telling process, and at some point soon I would like to reflect how the great advice Sandra and I got from the Art and Story podcast worked out for us on the ground. So stay tuned for future goodness.

I will leave you with this video of finding our book at the conference. Can’t thank everyone who puts on the conference enough for defining “amazing”.

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