This past Alternative Press Expo was the first convention as a vendor. It was my first step towards getting my comic related work seen by a larger audience. I've attended this convention before, but this was my first booth. I thought I'd break down the experience to help myself understand what I got from it, and to let other people interested in attending as sellers know what they're in for.
I was up until four in the morning the night before the convention folding and stapling. Also I found some errors and was doing what I could to correct them, hand printing some cut off text in every copy. The first day of the convention I arrived on three hours of sleep. I had only paid for a half table but my neighbor wasn't there so I got to spread out over a full table, which was good because with the two zines my friend brought I had a lot more then I had thought. I only made a few sells, but when walking around I traded a fair amount of zines and made some interesting connections. I also got to meet Jim Woodring and got a signature from him.
The second day proved to be a bit of a bust. We didn't sell anything in 6 hours. My neighbors seemed to think I was getting a lot of attention, so at least things were getting seen. And there's so much good stuff at A.P.E I understand that people have to be pretty discriminating with what they buy. It was hard to not get a bit disheartened sitting at a booth all day for no reason.
So, how did it go? That's what I've been asked the most since I got back. And, really, it's hard to say. Judging it financially I would have to be call it a disaster (400 bucks in the hole not including food, beer and transport). Beyond that? Well, I had a good time, as I always do at A.P.E. I met interesting people, made some connections, and saw how other people attempt to succeeded independently. However, if I had attended without renting a booth I would have probably had all these benefits regardless.
I guess for me it was my first deliberate step towards making comics a career. I had to do it because if I never had I'd never know what it was like. Also, I had been needing to print my material for a long time, and now have extra copies to sell for a long time coming. I see now that being an independent publisher isn't my dream. The biggest perk you can hope to receive is attention. I would rather be able to professionally write and illustrate, to do the visual work without being my own editor, salesman and publisher. So the next step for me is submissions to all the Indy publishing companies. A lesson which I needed to learn, regardless. How did it go? Like all experiences it was neither good nor bad entirely, but a new lesson to move forward from.
The only fully negative thing was getting a burrito with a paper towel in it at a taqueria in S.F. That was fucking gross.