That old convention chestnut

If you’re a member of a convention, and I’ll use the recently passed Fantasycon for my example, you may have been lucky to pay your membership at last year’s event which was, if I remember rightly, £40. You would have been very pleased to receive a full goodie bag at this year’s event; lots of free books and stuff like that.

As a dealer you still have to pay the membership fee plus table costs – for me, that was £70 – so a total of £110 gets me stuck behind my table all day unable to go to any panels, signings, readings, workshops, etc. But I do get to hang out with people in the evening, and a single price with a couple of free memberships is what you’d get at most other cons, so can’t really grumble at £110. If you’re a dealer though (and it’s your living) you expect to get decent sales.

The trouble with everyone getting so many books in the goodie bag means there’s a reluctance to actually buy any. I’d say that of the 500 or so members at this year’s Fantasycon less than half actually looked in the dealer room – that wasn’t why they were there. Not what a dealer wants to hear. And positioning – I was facing the back wall (that’s not a complaint as I always accept where the guys who do all the arranging put me) – can be all important to sales.

The hotel price seemed a bit steep to me so I bagged a b&b not far away – Joel Lane was staying at the same establishment, though he probably doesn’t remember handing me the Best Magazine award for Murky Depths back in 2010 – for two nights at £110.

Travelling costs at 45p a mile came to nigh on £183 and the car park was £50 for the weekend. A couple of evening meals came to about £30 and I did over £100 on booze (though I never put alcohol on my expenses, so I shan’t be putting that in these calculations).

My costs for the weekend was therefore £483. Like I said, not many people were buying books, and it takes a lot of book sales to get anywhere near £500 so I actually lost nearly £200. If it wasn’t for the sales of my new short story collection things would have been a lot worse. Next year, World Fantasycon prices are double what I paid this year so I can add another £135 (at present costs). That means I have to make £600 before I even start to think about production costs and paying out royalties. If the argument is, ‘you’re product’s no good’, or at the least, not suitable for the fantasy market – which I would strongly argue it is, then there is certainly little point in attending Fantasycon. I can no longer say I’m there to promote Murky Depths. I really want to be at Word Fantasycon but the scales are tipping against it at the moment. What to do…

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2 Responses to “That old convention chestnut”

  1. I remember you saying that the SFX weekender was quite good for sales. I know there were 10 times as many people there, but do you think maybe that FCON’s dealer room was too small/boring? I mean, I agree with your comments about the goodie bags, but I wonder if there would have been more footfall and more interest in buying if there had been other things to look at than books?

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