Rule #1 from the Tanseki School of Swordsmanship
“Treat every encounter as a fight to the finish.”
Every convention is difficult. There is no such thing as an easy show.
Now of course some shows may be better for you and harder for others or vice versa. But sometimes, shows are just hard for pretty much everybody.
Last weekend, YI SOON SHIN returned to battle at the Chicago Entertainment Comics Expo (C2E2) for the seventh year and sold out in the final hour of the show–making this our 53rd convention sell out!
Over the weekend, a fellow indy creator, who was also exhibiting at the show, came to me overwhelmed because this year was a lot tougher for him than last year.
I told him the truth. His book was not the problem. He was not the problem. The show was not the problem. It wasn’t about stuff being too expensive or people being too cheap. It was just that the audience for this show has different demands than audiences at other conventions. You can’t compare C2E2 to NYCC even though they are both run by ReedPop. They are both very different shows.
And try as you might, you can’t control the interests of the crowds at any convention. For some reason, this show may have had less comic fans and more fans of celebrities and artwork. Who knows?
But as long as you understand that it isn’t personal, there is nothing to be upset about. C2E2 is a great show and as an indy creator you can make the most of it if you are wise and cunning.
Because this is a hometown show for me, there is an obvious advantage in the sense that my expenses are much lower than when I travel. But aside from the fiscal benefits, C2E2 has always been my training ground for polishing my sales technique. I’ve also noticed that it is a great show for networking.
I may not be able to move as many books at this show as I can at others but nonetheless, I look at C2E2 as an important convention that I will always want to have a footing in because each year I learn more and I perform better than the year before.
That same creator said, “Your pitch was forged in the fires of Mount Doom.” I couldn’t help but laugh. He was right and so was Fredrich Neitzsche when he said, “What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.”
Mount Doom. The place where comic book sales pitches are forged.
I believe that the key to consecutive victories on the convention front is to set realistic goals that you can meet. Now let’s analyze YI SOON SHIN’s performance this past weekend and beyond.
Be aware that I have no desire to instill any sort of law for how things should be done. As the late great Jack Kirby said, “Do it your way.”
My goal is to help you get there quicker which is why I am sharing my experiences with you today.
Flashback to 2010 when I premiered YI SOON SHIN: WARRIOR AND DEFENDER #2 in the first year of C2E2. I did not have an artist alley table or a booth. Instead, I was doing signings at retailer booths. In three days I sold two hundred books which to date was the highest amount of books I had ever sold at a convention.
In 2011, I felt if I could do two hundred books at C2E2 in 2010, why not try and shoot for four hundred fifty the following year. I did and low and behold, I sold out yet again! I didn’t launch anything new that year. All I did was raise the bar.
In 2012, I premiered the YI SOON SHIN: WARRIOR AND DEFENDER Graphic Novel. I had no idea the reaction I would get from it. I was expecting to sell hundreds of copies. I sold thirty by the end of the weekend and although I made more money because I was selling a pricier product, I had sold only four hundred thirty seven books, which was less than the previous year.
In 2013, I premiered YI SOON SHIN: FALLEN AVENGER #1 at the show. Although the new book sold out, the other issues didn’t sell as well. I sold only three hundred eighty five books that year. I was not happy with the results.
In 2014, I entered the show with low expectations and sold out on Saturday. Luckily, because this was a home show, I was able to stock up. That year, I sold five hundred books at the show.
In 2015, I premiered YI SOON SHIN: FALLEN AVENGER #3 at C2E2 and had my highest performing Saturday to date when I sold three hundred fifty four books in a single day! However, my Sunday performance had severely petered off and I barely broke one hundred books sold on Sunday. In total, I sold six hundred twenty three books at the show that year.
In 2016, I set out on a mission to sell out at every convention I attended. Now I needed to up the ante and so I gave myself seven hundred books to sell. You can read all about the hell I had to go through to move all those books by clicking HERE! It’s worth mentioning that I did not launch anything new at the show that year and sold more than the previous year.
This year, for the 2017 show, I set out to sell eight hundred fifty books– the highest concentrated amount of books for THIS particular show that I’ve ever sold. Again, it’s worth noting that I didn’t premier anything new at this year’s show.
The C2E2 2017 Challenge. 850 comics and graphic novels.
Every year I raised the bar and set goals that were reasonable for me to accomplish. I didn’t attempt to do something impossible and foolish like jumping from three hundred books to three thousand per show because that would have only ended in disappointment. That doesn’t mean I always met my goals at C2E2 either. The point is that I studied my performance at the show and raised the bar each year so that I could grow with the show.
The lesson here is simple. Keep your expectations real. Don’t lower them. Just raise them gradually. Do what works for you. Don’t look at the other guy and copy his model. Work towards achieving success on your own terms.
THE UNYIELDING WARRIOR
This year I set a very high goal for C2E2 and I wasn’t sure I could meet it. Nonetheless, I would not yield until the job was done.
I ignored all the gut wrenching rejections and swallowed my pride. Instead, I focused on pushing myself to stay on my feet. When my voice got hoarse, I drank a shot of tequila and kept working the floor.
But I never relented. Not once.
It’s important to remain calm and in control during conventions. If you get visibly frustrated and start taking it out on your neighbors, or worse, the attendees, it will only deter your sales. Remember that this is a job. Remain calm and collected and let everything happen naturally.
Whenever I felt stressed out, I took a break. I had a great time getting to know my neighbors and we helped boost each other up. Remember this–if you’re feeling overwhelmed, chances are your neighbors are too. Therefore, it is important to encourage them to draw up the crowd with you! Throughout the weekend we all passed sales to each other.
As always, I was blessed with great neighbors!
This year to the right of me was my homie Ray Chou who I met at Emerald City Comic-Con. Here’s a page from his outstanding book SKIES OF FIRE! Click on his name above to be taken to his site where you can learn more about the comics he’s working on!
To the left of me was Ben Miller, author of the book JUDGES, which looks fantastic! The artwork was very professional and I suggest you check out his site by clicking on his name above.
You can’t control how people spend money but you are more effective in a room full of people than you are in an empty one. Every person that walks that floor is a potential fan of you and your work. Win their hearts first by displaying pride and passion in your work! You deserve it!
Then share the glory with your neighbor because they deserve it too! Learn from each other. Work together! It is a lonely path otherwise.
When you feel like giving up, just remember that the unyielding warrior will never be defeated in combat. Don’t give up! Stay on your feet! Stay positive! Push for those sales! Charge everyone, including yourself, with positive energy!
In all honesty if I didn’t have my Sales Commando Kurt Imhoff with me, I don’t believe I would have survived this show. I don’t always have this luxury. As always, we worked together and when one man needed a rest, the other stood in his place. Someone was always working the floor.
When the going gets tough, I can always count on Kurt to help me fight against the odds. Together we are unstoppable.
FIGHTING TO THE FINISH
It’s not over until it’s over.
On Saturday this year, I had what I consider to be an average performance day in terms of sales and really didn’t want to work so hard on Sunday to sell the remaining books I had on me. But now that I started this show I had to finish it.
Sunday was the toughest day of the convention. From the moment the floor opened to the last hour, I was slinging comics and finally made my final transaction at exactly 4:14 PM.
By this point I was beat. My back was aching. I was sweating from wearing a back brace all day and I was hungry and tired. It was like I had just got done fighting the battle to end all battles. Even the 1500 COMIC BOOK BATTLE wasn’t this hard.
But as always, I survived and met my goal for the year and can now celebrate that victory.
Why? Because I ignored all self doubt. Treat every opportunity to promote and sell yourself as a fight to the finish!
The samurai never dressed for battle. They dressed to meet their own death! Now apply this to what you’re doing in comics and dress to meet your own standards. Not someone else’s. You know what you want better than anyone else. Whether it’s networking or selling, come to every show with a mission and get better at what you do.
C2E2 is my training ground. My pitch–forged from my own iron will to grow stronger and get better! As time goes on, my selling abilities will grow sharper so long as I continue to learn from difficult experiences. The same applies to anyone brave enough to stand up for themselves and their work.
Victory in the final hour.
As Mas Oyama once said, “The only secret is sweat.”
Later this week, YI SOON SHIN will strike again at Planet Comic-Con in Kansas City! See you there!
ONWARD TO VICTORY!