Sunday, March 31, 2019

Giving Gun Shows Another Spin This April

Last May, I attended one of the Eastman gun shows in Gwinnett County to sell books. Although I sold fourteen print copies of The Thing in the Woods and seven print copies of The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2 (and likely sold at least some e-books with my cards), I didn't make too much profit owing to the high costs of the table, underpricing the books for lack of small bills, and not yet knowing how to best attract people to my table. I also wasn't yet aware of the importance of getting e-mails for the mailing list, reducing my long-term profit opportunities from the event. I decided to lay off gun shows until Little People, Big Guns (more obviously a "gun book" with the cover and repeated reference to "Stand Your Ground" laws) or The Atlanta Incursion (the sequel to Thing that people might buy with it) was published and focus on science fiction conventions in the meantime based on the $160 profit I made at The Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo the previous March.

However, after ordering a lot of books to ensure I was adequately stocked for a planned summer of sales, I found myself with many books and a lot fewer venues than I'd anticipated. Although I'm definitely going to the Northwest Georgia Comic Book and Collectible Toy Expo, I'm on the waiting list for Augusta Toy and Comic Show and the "standby list" for the Atlanta Comic-Con (where I made an absolute killing last year and was hoping to sell lots this year) and I don't know when the next Atlanta Comic Convention (where I made a decent profit last December splitting the table with Robert Jeffrey) will be. I intend to work shifts with the Atlanta Horror Writers of America chapter and the Atlanta Writers Club at the Decatur Book Festival Labor Day weekend and I've queried MultiverseCon and am considering Monsterama, but those are farther out. Based on how people at this year's Atlanta Sci-Fi and Fantasy Expo remembered me from the last convention and how I didn't make as much money as I anticipated, I'm worried that I might be "tapping out" the Atlanta SF/F/H crowd with Thing and HFQ.

(Little People, Big Guns won't be released by Deadite Press until November 15 and I doubt I'll get Blood on the Border done over the summer like I planned. And only two books doesn't really justify out of state travel--I lost money on last year's Lizard-Man Festival and that was with convenient relatives to crash with. Although I'd probably have better luck with events in big cities like Charleston and Columbia, I'm a high school teacher and most of the South Carolina events seem to be during the school year. The Soda City Comic-Con might work, since it's close to relatives I can stay with and it's before the school year starts and it seems to be a much bigger deal attendance-wise than the Lizard-Man Festival.)

So I've decided to give gun shows another spin, taking into account the reasons I didn't make much money the last time. I'm going to the Gem Capitol show in the last weekend in April that's got cheaper tables than the Gwinnett show. I'm also splitting the already lower cost with T.S. Dann, who is a gun enthusiast and an artist with lots to display in addition to being a writer. I'm going to make sure to have lots of small bills to make change and try to be more engaging with passers-by like I was at Atlanta Comic-Con. I'm also going to collect e-mail addresses this time, to build my fan-base much like Larry Correia did. Even if I sell the exact same number of books as last time, I'll make significantly more profit due to lower costs and a higher per-unit price. I'm feeling a bit more optimistic and less naive this time. :)

If this works out, there are plenty more gun shows in metro Atlanta and Georgia this year. Eastman is having events in Marietta/Cobb in later June, July, and December. And if it doesn't work out, then it's back to the original plan of waiting for LPBG and TAI so I've got more to sell.

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