It’s ya boi, coming atcha with another Convention Display Upgrade! I’ll be attending IncredibleCon2021 this weekend. Other Convention posts here:
What about COVID?
I did a lot of hand-wringing about attending this convention during a huge spike of COVID-19 cases. The Delta variant is tearing through my town and I was on the verge of canceling. However IncredibleCon is taking their precautions very seriously, and my wife and I have taken several of our own as well:
- Masks are required for all attendees (and free masks will be available).
- They rented another room to spread out panels and vendors.
- Capacity will be capped at the convention in general and in rooms specifically.
- Hand Sanitizer will be everywhere.
- My wife and I are both vaccinated and we both tested negative recently.
- We’ll be behind the booth, keeping safe distances from folks.
Even with all these precautions, I’m still very concerned and honestly a bit guilty. I try to console myself that I’m not making things any worse, even if this is not the best decision.
But I’m still not sure. Maybe I’ll wake up tomorrow and just bail on the entire thing. I hate this pandemic. No matter what I decide, I’ll still share some of the planned upgrades I’ve made to my booth; maybe when this is all over you’ll find it useful.
Version 4: Now with Spear Witch!
Do note that my table is a foot or two smaller than the convention table will be; so everything will have much more space to breathe.
The shelves are a HUGE upgrade. They look so slick and make it easy to see what books are available. And I needed them to fit all the new books from Spear Witch!
Spear Witch is my primary distributer. They are incredible to work with and have made my job 10x easier. They handle all my shipping for all my books. I cannot express how much stress and headache they’ve removed from my life. Thank you Jared! I love you!
So naturally I’m so excited to add some of their products to my display. In particular I’ll be selling copies of:
- Catlands Jazzband: A magical setting of Fae cats who stole the power of jazz to lure and delight mortals.
- Empty Sector: A sci-fi setting for the Troika RPG. Includes 36 character classes, items, spells, and skills.
- Hexdrive: Space-fantasy for Troika. Monsters, ships, nebulae, everything else from the cold astral sea.
- Ludicrous Compendium: A poetry bestiary. Each creature entry includes a short haiku and a flavorful description.
- Roustabout: A game of charming rapscallions and the city in which they dwell. Complete rules included.
- Want To Be An Adventurer?: An elegant fantasy roleplaying game with room for notes and doodles (LOTS of doodles)!
I’m hoping a wider selection of books will draw more customers in general; both to my books and the Spear Witch books.
Additionally I cleaned up some signage and simplified the display. The prices are listed more clearly beneath the bookshelves, and the tokens don’t take up as much space. Freebies are also cleaner and RIGHT under the sign telling customers what to do.
Overall, I’m extremely happy with this new setup. It’s way more vertible, looks cleaner, and is easier to absorb and engage with.
And I had a great time. My COVID concerns were completely unfounded. The organizers left a ton of space between each table, room capacity was monitored, and even at its busiest times things never felt unsafe or crowded.
Well done, Incredible Con! Major props to you. This is how you run a con in 2021. Despite all these precautions, I still had a great time and solid sales. We’ll start with a quick report and then I’ll ramble about my convention strategy.
I decided to scatter some dice around the table to make it even MORE clear that these are RPGs and dice nerds are welcome. It worked like a charm.
Those and the freebies, of course. I don’t think I’d sell ANY books if it wasn’t for the incredible RPGs I can give away. They act as a pitch for RPGs for people who don’t know them AND a teaser for the quality of books on the shelves. You can download them all for free right here!
Here’s the sales report:
- 5 Mythic Mortals
- 4 Clink
- 2 Lowcountry Crawl 1.5
- 2 Bone Marshes
- 2 Tempered Legacy
- 2 Ludicrous Compendium
- 1 Want To Be An Adventurer?
- 1 Catlands Jazzband
Almost 20 books! Not bad at all. One of the more successful conventions by a good margin.
I was a little disapointed that the new books didn’t sell as well as my old ones. Perhaps I simply need more practice pitching them? However they still had a huge impact on my customers and the booth overall. Most notably, I had enough content on display that customers could spend time browsing.
If you’ve been to a convention before, you know every vendor is different. They have different products for sale, different kinds of displays, different moods and vibes, etc. But perhaps most important: every vendor has their own attitude.
- Town Criers will stand up behind their booth, or even in front of it. Merely making eye contact with a Crier will draw their attention and they’ll urge you closer with a practiced speech or joke.
While Criers have excellent engagement, they can be a turn off to some folks, or make customers feel pressured to buy something. Likewise other customers are there to buy stuff, so they like being taken on a lively tour.
- Smilers will also make eye contact, but merely offer a smile or the occasional compliment to passers by. “I love your outfit!” It’s a middle-of-the-road way to engage without making them feel pressured.
- Readers completely ignore customers unless one walks up and engages with them. They lean back while reading a book, playing on their phone, or drawing on a tablet. Readers will answer direct questions or make a short pitch; but they rarely talk more than the customer.
Of course these are broad categories, and I tend to alternate between all three modes. I start the day off as a Town Crier: “Want a free game?”, slip into a Smiler as the day goes on, and by the end I’m a quiet Reader.
I haven’t found any one method to be more effective than another, but now that I have almost a dozen books on my table, a lot of customers wanted to take their time and thumb through my shelves.
This is a huge improvement on my normal setup; normally I feel the pressure to pitch my few books and keep people engaged. But now that shelves are bursting with content people can stand in front skimming pages for several minutes.
On a few occasions I even drove some customers away with my engagement! One poor lady was reading through a book when I tried to start a conversation. She got flustered and scampered off. Maybe she never would have bought anything, but I wish I was better at just letting the books speak for themselves.
Another improvement I noticed is that if there is just one person in front of my booth, it tends to draw even more people. Which draws even MORE people! Passers by get curious. “There must be something good there, after all, that lady is taking a closer look!”
In the future I want to maximize how long people can hangout near my setup. I joked about putting a chair in front of the table with a sign that says “Sit and read” but I may ACTUALLY do that. I wonder if people would enjoy that more.
Thanks for Reading!
I really like this version; the bookshelves really makes it easy to present every book to customers. And I have enough books that I can be more passive and encourage customers to browse.
Thanks again to Incredible Con staff for making a well-run COVID conscious event.
And thanks to you for reading this! I hope you enjoyed it or found it useful.
Lowcountry Crawl 1.5 will be available for purchase VERY soon. Join the Newsletter so you can grab one before they all sell out!