I've long meant to go to a Comic Con, but always seem to find out about the close ones after the fact. I certainly didn't think my first would be as a vendor.
The Round Rock Independent School District (RRISD) hosts an annual Comic Con. I met a local high school librarian at a recent local author fair, and she told me about the Comic Con (the librarians put them on). Since I want to start selling at Comic Cons, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to get some experience. This one focuses on teens and kids; adult attendees are supposed to have a student to get in. Since I have YA fantasy and MG short stories, this was perfect, and it wouldn't mainly be hard core cosplayers.
It was a lot of fun! Here are some of the takeaways:
You don't have to cosplay as a vendor, but it doesn't hurt if you have a cool shirt that fits in.
You don't need huge professional banners (though they can help), but in that case, presentation (including decor) is even more important.
Dragons matter. Dragons are a great draw. Especially Jamie, the highly detailed, blue plastic dragon with the LED-lit eyes and mouth. More people stopped to see him (and have their photo taken with him) than did to see the books or me. But some stayed to look beyond the dragon.
Kids of all ages love pipe cleaners. They were also a good draw (better than they have been elsewhere).
Interest begets interest. If nobody has stopped at your table, you engage everyone you can. But if someone has stopped to look, others stop to look as well. Safety in numbers? Must be interesting if someone is interested? Probably both and more.
I've been to many conventions in the high tech world, and event staff can make or break an event. The librarians, student volunteers, and everyone else involved were friendly, helpful, and efficient, a joy to work with. Where do I sign up for next year's Comic Con?
We sold enough books to cover our costs. Some people signed up for the mailing list. Quite a few people took bookmarks; hopefully some will buy ebooks, visit the website and blog, or connect on social media. But while we obviously want to sell books, that's far from the only reason we were there. We were also there to connect.
Here's one of my favorite stories from the Con. Three teenage girls wandered up. One of them was urging a friend to ask something. That friend seemed shy, and they left without asking anything. They and various combinations of friends came back two or three times. Eventually the quiet girl asked a question, and we talked a little. They left and returned and while we talked more, she looked over the first book in the Dragon Lord Chronicles. They left and came back again, we talked, and she bought that book. I asked her name; we'll call her Emma (not her real name). They came back later and Emma bought the second book. Before they left the Con, she came back and bought the other two! I got a picture with Emma holding two of the books and Jamie.
Emma and her friends were a lot of fun. We'd have liked them if they hadn't bought anything. Teenagers are awesome. I remember what it was like to be one; it can be a tough time. Show you care!
Emma (and yes, I do remember your real name!), if you read this, I'd love to hear from you!
 Speaking of libraries, show yours some love; tell them how you appreciate them! And please share a favorite library story in the comments of the Love Your Libraries blog.