All righty, folks! This is the last post we’ve got going on how to prepare for a convention, whether you’re a novelist or comics writer. We left off with the issue of “selling yourself”, and the first step to that was to stay healthy. Now that we’ve got our Vitamin C game up, though, let’s talk about how to sell yourself at a convention.
“Selling yourself” sounds like a dirty term, like right in the line of slick oil salesman and pyramid scheme dirty. But making friends, meeting industry pros, and forming potential business partnerships at a convention doesn’t mean advertising yourself all around. So let’s talk about what “selling yourself” actually means and how to go about it!
Selling Yourself! (cont.)
1. HYGIENE and HEALTH: Yes, I know we went over this in our last post a bit, but I’m just going to briefly run this through with some new points. Not only do you want to stay healthy, but you want to look, smell, and feel healthy too. Take your shower, clean your nails, brush those pearly whites and use mouthwash (and pack gum and breathmints), and get LOTS of sleep… or as much as you can. A big part of selling yourself at a convention is looking and feeling like a million bucks, and you want others to feel the same way around you. Basic hygiene will help someone want to stick around to talk about your work, rather than him running away with a clothespin pinching his nose!
2. SELF PRESENTATION, I – Your brand: Maybe it’s just me, but I’m all for being a walking ad for my company and my work while at a convention. That doesn’t mean having neon lights flashing above your head that say “buy this!”. If you’ve got some cool gear, though, like t-shirts, cute blouses, baseball caps, bags, or cool jackets with your graphics or logo on it, you should definitely be rocking it. Don’t over do it, obviously, but having some sort of brand for yourself gets people engaged and also shows the merchandising potential for your intellectual property.
3. SELF PRESENTATION, II – Your style: So let’s say you think wearing a t-shirt with your awesome mech character is a little over the top? That’s fine, thinkin’ you’re too cool for school and all, but you should still have some sense of style. I’m not talking about Armani or Prada, but a more personal, clean style that makes you feel comfortable and that displays your personality. Try your best not to look sloppy or haphazardly thrown together unless you’re cosplaying and that’s the point of the costume! But if you’re at a con to do business, meet folks, and make contacts, usually, you’re going to want a clean appearance that exudes your personal style and taste. I can’t tell you what style that is… it’s up to you! Have fun with it, just make sure it’s cozy and it’s yours. 😉
4. GO TO PANELS! Especially the ones that exist specifically for networking! In general, most conventions (whether for comics, books, or dentistry) are divided up into three massive activities: 1. walking the exhibition floor, 2. hanging with friends, reconnecting, and socializing / partying (includes eating and lounge-visiting), and 3. PANELS. Panels are the greatest place to get some really helpful information and insight on the industry *and* to meet like-minded people.
It’s also easy to start conversations with the folks sitting next to you before the panels start. This small talk approach can get you to some cool places, like meeting a literary agent (happened to me at the Book Expo of America), or finding the perfect illustrator for your graphic novel. Have plenty of business cards and your portable portfolio on hand. After the panels, you’ll also have an opportunity to ask questions as well as meet with the panelists, so don’t miss out on this gem of a networking opportunity.
The only downside to going to panels is that for some conventions, like New York Comic Con and San Diego Comic Con, panel seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis and seating might be extremely hard to get. Pick the panels that you love the most, and show up to stand in line 30 minutes to an hour before it starts (yeah, I know, painful). Otherwise, you can always show up and hope that once seating is booked, people will leave the panel (which almost always happens, especially at the 30-minute mark).
5. VISIT EXHIBITION BOOTHS, especially the ones that belong to indie writers, artists, filmmakers, or mainstream artists who have gotten their own tables. This is a perfect opportunity to strike up conversations with folks about their work. Find out more about who they are, what they do, when they started, and exchange information. If you can get a business card or postcard with a website and social networks on it, I’d say that’s even better. (You can even keep it in a binder or a Rolodex of contacts and cool work you liked!) And if they happen to ask about you and *your* projects, you’d better remember to…
6. BRING YOUR BEST WORK! Okay, yes, I mentioned this in the first post, but it’s worth mentioning again. Business cards, a flip book, a licensing book, and your portable portfolio is a must. (And if you have a cute brand-ready tote bag to carry it all in, that’s a plus!) If you strike up a conversation with someone cool, and they ask to see your work, don’t get caught out there empty handed! 😉
So there you have it, folks! The end of the “Preparing for a Convention” blog trilogy! I’d love to hear your feedback about what you do to prepare for a convention! Any tips or tricks of the trade? Let us know!
P.S. Also, as an FYI, it’s time to get prepped for NaNoWriMo! WOOT! I’ll be both writing my novel and blogging all through the month of November on getting the first “vomit draft” of a novel done. I’ll also be preparing for and writing a sci-fi / fantasy / horror screenplay, and I’ll be blogging about that as well! Amped? I am! Stay tuned for more, and of course, in the meantime…
Keep it indie,