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A New Deal

Posted On Sunday, October 25, 2009

Though the plan I described in my article would successfully allow me to publish, incurring no cost to me, I wanted to challenge myself to see if I could come up with different ways to approach this plan, again, with the point being little to no financial investment on my part. The key here is having options -- not being tied down to ANY specific way of publishing allows for continued ingenuity and adaptation to the process. So as I began approaching a solution to this problem, I hearkened back to when I helped organize my friends into an artist collective called, The Co, and lo and behold, the answer hit me smack in the face.

In our first two years, The Co. was a fundraising machine, specifically raising some $1200.00 for Hero Initiative (then called A.C.T.O.R.) -- I admit, that may not seem like a lot, but considering (1) that it was amassed over the course of only 2 conventions a year and (2) that we were relative unknowns at the time, $1200 wasn't a bad way to go at all. But it wasn't the $1200 that means so much to me; it was HOW we did it. As I've stated previously, I'm more into using conventions as promotional floors over sales arenas. Now, that's not to say that you can't sell items, including a book, but that the intention behind ALL business is promotion of the brand you're representing. That may seem like some semantic hair-splitting, but understanding this concept allows you to do something very interesting -- you can have a con ANYWHERE. Currently, we operate where cons work in a season, starting in February and dying down around late October; the biggest ones pulling in hundreds of creators and thousands of fans -- but what if you didn't have to wait until the next con...? What if you could do something every weekend?

See, the thing about cons is that if they're approached as a sales floor, they become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophesy. As stated in the audio podcast of the Indie Panel from Mid-Ohio, most self-publishers use the convention circuit to account for significant parts of their sales. And while it can be argued that they very well should, since cons tend to create a draw for thousands of potential readers and practically delivers you, the creator, to them. The truth is the self-publishing creator typically goes about the business where they approach cons as a sales floor not because they WANT to, but because they NEED to -- remember, the standard for self-publishing is to invest a substantial sum of money to produce an inventory of product (100-1000 copies) and selling at cons, with the thousands of potential customers, creates a (seemingly) high potential that in one large sum, you can quickly make back your investment and start earning a profit! This makes your relationship symbiotic, for both parties (you need the cons to boost your sales potential so you can continue to exist, and the cons need as many possible attractions to boost their popularity and attendance so they can continue to exist).

But when you consider a con as a promotional event and not a sales floor, the possibilities of how that event operates magnifies exponentially -- meaning, you can turn ANY event into a potential "convention" experience. Just like we 2006, in conjunction with The Arena Grand Theatre, we started appearing at the midnight showings of comic book based movies. We saw the numbers comic movies were doing and knew people -- NOT JUST COMIC FANS -- were going to see them. So, we setup a small convention floor and did sketches, just like we had at cons, using our same sales pitch -- "Fetch-A-Sketch: Free with Donation; min $1!" Over the opening weekend of X-3, we made approximately $300.00!!! (Over the years, The Co. has kind of fallen away, but I've kept this event going, calling it Arena Con, the previous posts on this site detailing its earliest exploits.)

What this meant for my planning was this -- It’s possible to create a promotional event to raise funds for book publishing. Using some of the same principles that the article details (limited print run, using, I can set an earning goal of only $50.00 -- and it’s quite possible that having such a small goal will prompt people to donate a dollar or two to your cause. Now, you COULD take this idea and run -- HOWEVER, we're trying to instigate thought here, so the intelligent creator remembers, this isn't a sales floor -- this is a promotional event. They can get a few prints or posters together, promoting the title and characters of the book they're fundraising for before they've really begun work on a single page! They can build an email log for potential customers, alerting them of their progress and eventually when and where their book can be found for purchase! Because your sales goal is so small, you don't need a lot and just a few bucks should get you all you need...if you're smart about it!

That's a bit much for now, I'll return shortly with a detail of my "first" event using this model. Stay tuned and Keep Cre-8ing!

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