One day, my editor for the Secret Agent X anthologies, Ron, put out a notice on the Pulp Factory forums that he was looking for someone to split the cost of a hotel room in New York City. He was invited by a podcasting outfit to sit at a table and sell all his titles from Airship 27 Productions at New York Comic con. The hotel split included a vendor pass (free access!) and a seat behind a table to sell stuff. Upon seeing this notice, I jumped at the chance. I had been sitting at tables for my local comic shop owner who would run local conventions a couple times a year trying to sell DVDs of my films, comics, and books. New York was the big time. It’s the biggest East Coast convention for comics out there. I must have been the first response because Ron accepted my offer, and I was in. I was ecstatic!
Luckily, a couple of friends of mine were going to the Con as well and we car-pooled down there. They dropped me off at the hotel and went to their own prearranged dwellings. My LCS owner had a large booth at the show as well, so there were plenty of people there I would know and be able to hang out with.
Back then (2009 I think), podcasting wasn’t as big as it is today. The convention stuck us in a little area called podcast alley that had about 20 tables of folks selling their shows and merchandise. This was nothing compared to artist alley, which had hundreds of tables with tons of great comic book artists drawing away. Or the comic book sellers’ section, millions of single-issue comics, some booths with elaborate walls that had hundred-dollar books hanging up for sale. It was like a small city. Then there were displays of various multi-media set-ups. Wizards of the Coast had a huge display for Magic the Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons. Had to check that out! Video game companies had noisy blips, bleeps and clangs constantly piercing through the hum of the arena. Cosplay was just beginning to catch on as an art form and I remember being dazzled at all the wonderful costumes. So many Slave Princess Leia outfits! There were celebrities like Lou Ferrigno and panels with speakers on various subjects.
It is an understatement to say I was quite happy to be there.
If I remember correctly, we had the table for three days. During that time, I sold maybe nine or ten books and five or six DVDs, nothing close to what I spent. Ron and I traded off watching each other’s stuff so we could go check out other stuff and talk to other people we knew or wanted to know. I was too shy to introduce myself to the big names, so I stuck to the people I knew or was introduced to. I also ended up playing Magic on the upper floor with an exclusive look at the new current batch of cards.
It was a fun time. Would I do it again? Probably not.
I realized that I mostly spent a bunch of time sitting around hoping someone would take an interest in my stuff. When someone walked by I had to put on my sales pitch and convince someone that what I had was better than the gazillion other products at this place. Ninety eight percent of the time, it didn’t work. That’s a lot of rejection to face. By day three I was really worn out. I am not cut out to be a salesman. It was a net loss all around if I look at it logically.
Do I regret it? Absolutely not! It remains one of the coolest experiences of my life. How many people can say they were a guest at New York Comic Con? Even if it was through back door channels. I got to see all the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes into setting these massive events up. I got to see hard-working people doing their best to make the event a success. It was inspiring and it is something I get to tell my kids about.