Last weekend, I went to the Rose City Comic Con in Portland, Oregon as a vendor to sell my books and some related merchandise. This was by far my biggest event yet, with tens of thousands of attendees and hundreds of competing vendors. I did my best to come prepared, ordering more books than I’d ever stocked before and carefully practicing my well-honed pitch.
Then everything went wrong.
Within the first hour, I could tell that I wasn’t going to make any sales if I tried to treat this Con like every other event I’d done before. The harsh reality was that I’d only attended relatively small venues before, and was used to a more leisurely, sedate sort of shopper. But folks at Rose City had places to be and hundreds of booths to peruse. There was no time for browsing and chatting.
I’ll admit that a part of me wanted to curl up and hide. So many things had already happened to shake my confidence before the Con had even opened its doors. All of the authors around me had large, free-standing banners, while I didn’t. Other vendors were bragging about all the big events they’d done around the country that I’d never even heard of before. Even my table buddy who had promised to help me out for the Con had to text me that morning to let me know that he had fallen sick and wouldn’t be attending. I felt low, embarrassed, and wanted to quit.
But I didn’t.
I reconsidered my approach, and tried some new things. It involved stepping out of my comfort zone and being a bit more social than I usually preferred, but the results were almost immediate. Sales started to happen, emboldening me and encouraging me to continue. The new approach got easier with practice, and by the end of the first day I had already made more than I would have expected. But I hadn’t seen anything yet.
Day two was insane. It was intense, exhausting, and exhilarating. I had to force myself to stop selling for just a few minutes so that I could eat. I felt like a fisherman standing next to a stream swollen with fish. All I had to do was cast my line in and I would make a catch. Over and over and over, I gave my pitch, accepted money, and signed books. Nearly ten hours passed by in a blur of frenzied commerce. I sold more in that day that I had ever sold in a single day in the ten-plus years I’ve been a published author.
By the start of day three, all that I had left, was on the table.
I went into Day Three already exhausted, anticipating that the last day would be more relaxed, which would have been perfectly fine with me. I’d already seen more success at an event than I ever had before. If I had sold nothing on Day Three, I would have still been thrilled. But that’s not what happened.
The books kept disappearing from the table into the happy hands of customers. Copies of The Beast Hunter become so rare than I had to untie the ribbon from my display package to supplement the shrinking stacks. For a while, there was just one Beast Hunter and one Dragon Within left on the table, along with a few other titles. Then The Beast Hunter was gone, and The Dragon Within soon followed. Two titles sold out, and I still have hours left in the event.
In the end, I had nearly sold out of all my stock. I went from five large boxes of books to a single, partially filled suitcase by the time I was on my way home to my loving, supportive family.
So here I am, less than a week later and still glowing from my success. Still humbled and deeply grateful for all of those amazing folks who took a chance on the results of more than ten years of writing.
If you were one of those amazing people I sold to at this event or any other event, thank you. Thank you for your support, your confidence, and your sense of adventure. I hope that you will enjoy these books as much as I enjoyed writing them.
See you at the next event!