Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Gun Show Mk. 2.0 Results

In May 2018, I sold books--The Thing in the Woods and The Best of Heroic Fantasy Quarterly Vol. 2--at a large Eastman Gun Shows event held at the Infinite Energy Center, formerly known as the Gwinnett Arena. Although given the themes of my work and the general demographics of the gun-enthusiasts crowd a visit to the gun show made sense, in terms of profitability the event itself was a bust ($10 profit on 16 hours or so of work, less than a dollar an hour). This was due to my failure to anticipate the participants' preference to use cash rather than credit cards and not yet knowing that events made the perfect place to collect e-mail addresses for my newsletter for making one-off readers into fans.

(That said, the event eventually proved profitable in the long run because it allowed me to re-establish contact with Nightmarescape author T. S. Dann, with whom I split tables at Days of the Dead this past January and the event I'm discussing in the post, increasing my profit margins at both quite a bit.)

So I digested what I learned--lots of cash, actually try to talk to passers-by, and don't bother with a candy tray--and applied the lessons to the Gem Capitol gun show held this past weekend at the Atlanta Farmers' market. Although I sold 15 books to last year's 20, the splitting the table cut my fixed costs to $30 and not needing to drive so far meant gas was negligible. I made around $80-85 profit on around 14.5 hours of work (this is only slightly less profitable than my March visit to the Atlanta Science Fiction and Fantasy Expo in which I profited $98), translating to around $6.50 per hour. I also got 20 e-mail addresses for my newsletter, although four bounced the welcome message. Some people in the crowd seemed interested in my upcoming novella Little People, Big Guns from Deadite Press slated for this November and my probable-indie sci-fi novel Blood on the Border slated for the summer or fall. I also re-established contact with Bob Burden, creator of Flaming Carrot and Mystery Men, who intends some prose fiction in the near future and whom I'd met at a couple previous events in Atlanta but kept losing his contact information.

(Maybe he'd be willing to split a table with me at future comic events? That crowd loves print books and he's a comic celebrity.)

In my last post on selling books at gun shows, I figured this event would be the deciding factor in whether to sell at gun shows in the summer and fall (i.e. before Little People Big Guns). As referenced by my profit margins it's a significant improvement over the first visit to the gun show and more profitable than some of my lower-performing bookstore events and appearances at community festivals. Although Atlanta hosts lots of gun shows (including a bunch this coming summer that promise to be a lot better-attended than this one), I'll need to make sure I don't overdo it. At the SFF Expo I ran into people who'd bought The Thing in the Woods when I visited the year before and I didn't have anything new to sell them and some people at this gun show recognized me from the Eastman show. If one visits the same event more than once without new items to sell, diminishing returns starts to kick in.

Fortunately both Gem Capitol and Eastman have gun shows in December, when I'll have LPBG ready to go. :)

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