Are you planning to market a new comic, graphic novel, or book at a Comic Con or other big event? You’re not the first. It can be hard breaking out and gathering customers in the beginning. That’s why we decided to help. We interviewed Neil Gibson, Editor-In-Chief of TPub Comics, who offered insight and personal experience on how to market books at cons.
A Place to Hang Your Cape: What was the first event where you sold your book?
Neil Gibson: Kapow in 2011. I cut short my honeymoon by two days so I could attend!
AP2HYC: Approximately how many events have you attended as a vendor?
Gibson: About 50.
AP2HYC: What are the must-haves for a press kit?
Gibson: Varies depending on what you are promoting, but artwork (with lettering) and a short description of the title and fans’ reactions.
AP2HYC: What items should a vendor bring with them when selling a book at an event?
Gibson: Cashbox, tablecloth, banners, sweets, pens – those are the essentials. We bring a lot more, but most people don’t.
AP2HYC: How many copies of a book do you recommend bringing to an event when you are a vendor?
Gibson: That’s a toughie. We have sold over 500 at a 2-day event, but we have also been to one where we only sold 2. It depends on the size of the event, if the event is targeted at comic buyers, and the size of your fan base. We aim to increase sales by 20% year on year.
AP2HYC: What do you find is the best way to attract customers?
Gibson: I generally just ask them what they like about comics, and then try to recommend a title to suit their taste. I then ask them if they’d like to read mine.
AP2HYC: What’s the hardest part about selling at an event?
Gibson: Eating bad for four days in a row!
AP2HYC: Any advice you have for first-timers that you wished you knew when you started?
Gibson: Big question. I’d say getting started is the most important part, but realize that some cons will be a disaster.
AP2HYC: Do you ever offer merchandise along with your graphic novels (bookmarks, keychains, posters, etc.)?
Gibson: We do. Long-term fans buy everything we have, but the margin we make and space constraints mean we tend to focus on the comics.
AP2HYC: What’s your favorite part of attending the events? Is it meeting with fans? Getting new people interested in your work? Interacting with other writers/artists/vendors?
Gibson: I love chatting with the fans, but the real joy is when I convert people to reading comics when they had previously never read one. I get a few at almost every con, and they thank me for introducing them to comics. THAT makes me very happy because I love the medium, and I want to bring as many new readers to it as possible. Indeed, that is actually our company mission.
If you’re interested in reading some of Neil’s previous stories, you can check out our reviews of his following works:
– Tortured Life Volume 1
Are you interested in learning more about marketing your comic, graphic novel, or book? What other questions do you have? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter!