Wednesday, May 02, 2007

To con or not to con (also: Frank Miller movies)

Me and Sam Hiti at MicroCon 2007I'm not going to do a Links du Jour today 'cause there's not a lot of news. Frank Miller's Ronin is getting made into a movie thanks no doubt to the success of Sin City and 300, but that's about it. I'm trying to figure out what the next Miller comic will be to get snatched up. Martha Washington maybe? Miller and Dave Gibbons have another installment of it coming out, so maybe. Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot would be even cooler though.

But anyway, what I really wanted to talk about was this article by Von Allen about trying to promote his graphic novel the road to god knows... at conventions. It's interesting because he's put a lot of thought into what he's doing at conventions and what he hopes to get out of them. He's done a lot of research in order to find the right conventions to go to in order to find people who might like his work. And he's been willing to spend some real money on tables and advertising and giveaways, all in return for some word-of-mouth. Unfortunately, the point of his post is that he isn't getting what he hoped to out of it, but it's making me think about my own convention experiences and what I'm trying to achieve while I'm there.

The only conventions I currently attend as a creator are MicroCon and FallCon. They're both local, so I don't have to travel or pay for a hotel room, but that's not why I go. I go because the tables are free for creators. As a writer, I can't draw sketches to sell and make back my money on a table. All I can do is sell comics. If I were better known and had more published to sell, I could probably justify buying a table at an out-of-town con, but I'm not there yet. And I'm not interested in spending a lot of my own money to promote what little I do have published right now. So, a lot of Von's article doesn't apply to me.

On the other hand, authors are expected to do a lot of their own marketing and publicity these days and I need to learn how to do that. I may not need to spend my own money to do it, but I need to be willing to follow Von's example and think hard about making the most of the conventions I attend. I need to think about what I'm specifically trying to achieve at each con.

For example, if everything goes according to plan, Dust to Dust should be in the October issue of the Previews catalog. FallCon is in October and a lot of local retailers will be there. In addition to talking the book up with fans, it might just be a good idea to use some of my con time to talk to retailers about it and see if maybe I can arrange some signings or something. Anything that'll help them to remember Dust to Dust later that month when it comes time to place their orders.

Each con is going to be different because I'll have different projects with different needs that I'll be trying to promote. What I need to remember is to spend a lot more time thinking about how to best use those opportunities, rather than just trying to figure out how to make a couple of bucks and have a good time. Not that I don't want to do those things too; I just want to be more thoughtful about it.


Von Allan said...

Hey Michael,

First, thanks a bunch for not only reading my blog but putting up a link. Very cool of you to do that.

Promotion isn't an easy thing to do. Unfortunately, there isn't one "right" way to go about it and I think the frustrating part, especially with creative projects, is trying to find the right way of doing it involves a lot of trial and error. Figuring out a way to do that on a small budget is bloody tricky. For me, going to cons "just because" was never a good idea. I always knew that, just based on my own experiences in running a bookstore, and that was why I targeted both APE and SPX. They fit what I was trying to do better. That they haven't worked nearly as well as I would have liked is disappointing. But such is life. I've learned a helluva lot and while that's cost me a few more dollars than I'd ever have liked to spend, it's done. And it's not like it was a miserable time, either. Vacation-wise, they were all a lot of fun.

One suggestion I do have (take from it what you will) is that you might want to join the Comic Book Industry Alliance ( This is a private Delphi forum that's for retailers, publishers and creators. But primarily retailers. Some of the brightest lights in comics retailing regularly post there and it, I think, would be a great way for you to meet some retailers. You do have to apply (info is on the site) and, of course, you should be as respectful and professional as possible (well, duh). I think it's worth a look if nothing else.

Thanks again!


Michael May said...

Thanks for the additional thoughts on promotion, Von. And special thanks for the CBIA tip. I'm going to apply.

And good luck with the book!

Von Allan said...

Hey Michael,

Just wanted to add that after a tad too long I finally have some firm news on the book front. No print publication plans as of yet, I'm afraid, but I can say that the story will be serialized online at beginning on Monday, December 3rd. GaM is a very cool non-misogynistic site featuring comics from all sorts of genres and I'm quite happy to be joining them. The url for the comic is at and it'll update every Monday with four new pages.

So, there you go. News! :)



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