Got back late last night from Portland. Rose City Comic Con was an awesome experience. Really well-run con, in terms of all the little things. All the kids stuff was together at one end of the hall. All the artists were at the other. Comic book and toy vendors were on one side. We will kinda in the middle with other book and comic and stuffff folks, right behind the Ninkasi Beer stand, so we had LOTS of traffic through our area (yay).
For those that missed out, we had a corner booth book store, with eight of us (mostly from Portland and Fabulous Publisher Babe(tm) and me down from Seattle). I can be an outrageously charming flirt when I turn myself on and put on that mask. It was a weird experience, because it has been so many years since I needed to, but I spent Friday morning basically shifting people into someone who loved to talk to people and stand in the middle of the crowd like a carnival barker.
It went like this: I’m sitting there listening to the music in my head (yeah, don’t ask) and smiling at everyone who walks along. If they look my way or smile, I say “Morning” and many of them smile back and say morning back to me. A few stutter step because it’s afternoon, but they aren’t Buddhist, so don’t understand that the first time I see you in a day is always its beginning.
But then they look over, and see we have books. Or they were already looking at books when I talked to them. I have now deflected their entire gravity field and caused them to stop and wander over.
“So what kind of books do you like to read?” (I had a great spiel going)
The con goers were largely sword and sorcery fantasy (what most readers mean when they say “fantasy”) or urban fantasy. A very few were looking for science fiction, which was usually on the shelf right next to where I stood most of the weekend. Dragons were at the other end of that same unit.
So I would get them talking, and excited about books. So they would come into the booth to touch things. Or ask a question and I might have that author handy, so I would get them to come over and nerd out with them.
It worked really well. WE sold lots of books this weekend. Not a lot of SF, but I had several people come in and buy. Plus I was giving away copies of The Science Officer in print (30) and ebook format to anyone who liked SF. One woman took it home Saturday and came back Sunday to buy the full Omnibus in paper (both books, all 8 of Season One as I slowly get back to writing Season Two).
And I even found a couple of things to spend money on, including picking up the first two volumes of Salvagers from Source Point Press. Really nice guys. Not much into horror, which they had lots of, but also some nice looking SF.
Most of the rest of the con was spent people watching. My single favorite costume for the weekend was a little girl about eight or so. She was in blue as Stitch from Disney Except, her costume included a blue stormtrooper helmet with ears. It was the cutest thing.
But there were a lot of amazing costumes. And you can’t go wrong with cosplay, as long as you are having fun with it. And they were.
Something else that caught my eye. Or reinforced something I noticed several years ago.
At a couple of worldcons (Spokane and Kansas City) I noted that the median age of attendees on Friday seemed to me to be about 60. And on the weekend, it maybe got down to 50, once a few of the younger generation showed up.
At ECCC and RCCC, the median age on Friday seems to be about 30. On the weekend, that dropped to 20. I was at first shocked at the number of 12-year-olds I saw wandering around by themselves, but then greatly enthused. That was when I did my first con without parents, back in the stone ages (Encounter 10 in Wichita, if you’re old enough).
These kids weren’t there being drug around by old people, but came because they are FANS and could do this. And RCCC is a very family friendly place, so they could just go around and buy and see stuff, and nobody would bat an eye at them, except to sell them stuff.
This is the future of fandom, right before your eyes. At WorldCon KC (I think), I noted that they had something like 2300 Hugo voters that year, which was the largest ever and something like 30% above average, so your Hugos are voted on by around 1500-1800 people each year. That was why the Sad and Rabid Puppies thought they could game the system.
But the Hugos are in trouble, long term. Those 2 world cons had around 7000-10000 attendees. the 2017 San Diego Comic Con was estimated to have 130,000 attendees. The 2016 Rose City Comic Con saw 42,000 people, and I would guess were were about there this time as well.
For those of you wanting to see the future, go to SDCC, ECCC, and RCCC (on the west coast, they are similar on the east coast). And note that WorldCon tended to be a very white, very old audience. The Comic Cons are extremely (happily) diverse, and much younger. They will be your fans for the next generation as the old farts die off. (Goodbye, puppies.)
I had one young lady walk in and announce she wanted to read “kick-ass ladies doing stuff.” I’m guessing she was expecting to find one or maybe three titles she could read. She found fifty, and was very happy.
Had another girl walk in and listen to my pitch: What kinds of books to you like to read?
Her: “Science Fiction Fantasy Slash…”
Here’s she pauses as something has caught her eye and frozen her brain. So I point. “Science fiction. Fantasy. Slash.” (that latter at the LGBT SECTION we had.) She grabs her girlfriend (“We have found our home!”) and drags her over to the LGBT section to look and then her brain processes what I’ve said and both girls start giggling madly. And bought books. It was good.
- Good covers sell. Thorn’s By Earth has a great cover. People bought all 5 books for $50 without blinking.
- Dragons sell. We had several dragon covers on an endcap, opposite space ships, and I could say “We go from dragons to spaceships” pointing to both ends to say “Yeah, I got that.” It pulled them in.
- Putting a physical book in someone’s hands gets their attention and they’ll read it later. (You forget what half those business cards do by the time you get home, and lose them, but people like us treat books like holy relics.
- Having the authors handy helps, because we’re suddenly not an evil megacorp, but ARTISTS!!!!
- Being friendly helps. People seemed to really appreciate the smile. Hopefully, it brightened their day.
- Engaging people as they walked by affects their gravity and makes them fall headlong into the black hole of a book store. Mission accomplished.
- Diversity of content helps a bunch. There were a few booths selling one or two books. Because that’s all the author had. Pretty books, but great, you’ve got me for a week, and then nothing. Bring several friends and 50-75 titles to sell.
Okay, enough silliness and brain dump. It was a good con. Had a lot of fun. Met some neat new people I hope to engage with later on. Maybe some business and marketing opportunities.
For those of you who were there, what were your thoughts?