The Road to the Big Apple National: Before, During and After?

Posted on November 22, 2007 (Da Craze)

 

This will be a first for me as I divulge inside information on how I prepared for the National. First off, I planned for this event from the moment I left to San Diego for Comic-Con. Based on my earnings from SDCC, I would determine how much money I would invest in promotion for the National. I decided $300 would be my maximum budget (remember this is Indy comics) and I would use other means of promotion and pass on an ad in Wizard. (Note: If you place an ad in Wizard make certain it is to promote a book launch at a venue like Comic-Con San Diego “More bang for your buck”).

 

To attend a show like the National, one would need to come to the table with something desirable so that the consumer will be attracted to your table. My plan was to launch my trade paperback of There’s an Alien in my Toilet and my first sketchbook. This was a  strong enough motivation for my fan base as well as for new potential readers.

 

Okay, now that I had the product squared away I needed to get the word out. Two weeks out I spent $160 on an international press release. There are many sites that offer this service and can be located by typing press release service in google. (Word of advice: Your choice of wording can make or break a press release. Key words are important and remember keep it simple, direct and powerful). I know first hand how powerful a press release can be. I have appeared on radio and Television because of it.

 

I spent approximately $40 (phone bill) faxing promotional flyers to schools, libraries, and media in all 5 boroughs in NY. This was a two-day process of sitting by my fax machine and dialing, loading repeatedly for hours at a time.  Now, another long process was posting on all comic, sci-fi, anime and fantasy related forums. This was about 5 hours of my time (which in today’s world is all day). No that was not all, I also sent an email blast to the media, my personal distribution list (which is now over 1500 emails). I have separate email groups categorized as fans, press, retailers, Network Exec’s, etc.

 

 

One bonus was having the American Latino TV Network’s show “Latin Nation” come to my home and conduct an interview of me. The feature will air late December on MY9 in NY and various channels throughout the Nation and the Virgin Islands. They were slated to come to the National and film me interacting with my fan base. This never happened because of a change at the National, which directly impacted my exposure or lack of.

 

With everything I prepared for I never planned on being relocated at the National. When I arrived I was told that the location I have had for years was no longer available to me. This was devastating! My regulars would not know this and neither would the crew from Latin Nation. Every one of my flyers indicated I would be on the 2nd floor. I protested and asked to be placed in my spot but I was talking to deaf ears.

 

I was placed on the first level; which I as a fan never traveled because of the small space and limited aisle maneuverability. I was told I would be with the mainstream artists and it would benefit me. That made the move even worse. First, fans don’t take to change well. If they don’t see you in your spot they just assume you did not show. Secondly, placing a small fish in an ocean filled with the likes of Tim Sale, Sergio Aragones, Frank Choi, Bernard Chang, Adam Hughes and more is a death wish. My table would only be blocked by the lines of fans trying to get to these icons and I would suffocate. 

 

What made things worse was all of the independents asking me what happened and why I was down stairs. If they knew this was wrong, why wouldn’t the organizers pick up on this, I am Indy and needed to be with all the other independents. Okay here was the icing on the cake, I received an email from the producer of Latin Nation stating his crew was there and could not locate me. WOW!!! Did I get hammered every night? Absolutely! I was so furious and disappointed by the move that I started looking for venues to move to next year other then the Big Apple.

 

After years of partnering with the Big Apple and spending countless man hours to help promote the venue, I never imagined I would need to change venues. So you understand, I was moved once before and my sales dropped 50% because of it. I was promised I would never be moved again and obviously I was. This time my sales suffered even more. Each year at the National I would take in an average of $600 in sales. This time I dropped $65%. Only one of the Doodie fans found me (a 99% reduction) due to the large NY fan base for my books.

 

With all of the negative there were some positives. I did move a few Trades and some related merchandise. I did manage to make new friends and new supporters. I made connections with press and learned a big lesson. You know how your parents told you always expect the unexpected and prepare for the worse? Well, I am an example of that. The event was a success for the Big Apple with the place so crowed you wanted to scream. For me, I can only imagine what it would have been like if I had been upstairs. The positive is Latin Nation has agreed to come to the Anime Festival in December to film me there. So now, as I am sure you are aware I am promoting the hell out of that event and my appearance there. ‘Til then…

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