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Author Topic: Too many fans?  (Read 5315 times)

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Offline LegendWoodsman

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Too many fans?
« on: January 17, 2010, 09:28:58 PM »
Or crowd control...

Does anyone have any convention etiquette advice for when your table-neighbor's fans start lingering in front of your table or if your fans are lingering in front of your neighbor's table?

Offline Pete

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #1 on: January 18, 2010, 09:32:14 AM »
Cattle prod?

I've honestly never encountered this problem, but I would imagine if it did happen, I would just ask the people in front of my table - nicely, of course - to please move.  Then, if I could get my neighbor's attention for a few moments, I would ask - again, nicely - that he keep an eye on the people in front of his table and corral them if it gets out of hand.

Has this actually happened to you?

Offline TTallan

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #2 on: January 18, 2010, 02:39:49 PM »
This has happened to me on several occasions-- at least, the part about a neighbour's fans blocking my space, not so much the other way around.  ;)  I don't think I've ever actually asked someone to get out of the way, but if they're clearly just waiting for their chance to speak with the creator next to me, I have no problems engaging them while they wait-- "Hey, have you ever seen my comic before? Would you like to flip through a copy?" That kind of thing. I can't say this frequently results in a sale, but at least it gives the illusion that the people in front of your table are there to see you. If you look like a popular table, more folk will stop by just to see what the fuss is about.

On the rare occasion that enough fans/friends are gathered at my table to endanger my neighbour's space, I try to be aware of potential problems and guide them out of the way. A simple "come over here" hand gesture and smile is enough to get them to move, 99% of the time. I think if you let your fans know that you're only trying to be respectful of your fellow con attendees, not only will they understand and gladly help, but they'll think more highly of you as someone who cares.

Offline Pete

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #3 on: January 18, 2010, 02:57:51 PM »
I don't think I've ever actually asked someone to get out of the way, but if they're clearly just waiting for their chance to speak with the creator next to me, I have no problems engaging them while they wait-- "Hey, have you ever seen my comic before? Would you like to flip through a copy?" That kind of thing.

I would totally do this, but I always seem to end up near people who draw in attendees who have no interest in what I offer.

Offline TTallan

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #4 on: January 18, 2010, 03:04:04 PM »
Pete, I feel your pain.  ;) But if you're really stuck behind a crowd of people, try engaging them anyway. Ask if they're enjoying the show, if they found any good bargains in the Dealer's Room. Compliment them on their fine choice of t-shirt. Just get them talking. First, this will increase the likelihood of them showing an interest in your stuff, and second, it will help to create that illusion I mentioned, that they're there to see you.

Offline Rob

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #5 on: January 18, 2010, 04:01:36 PM »
I was wondering how to reply to this since I saw the thread and I really think TTallan said what I wanted to say better than I could. For the most part your "fans" are going to know where you are. They will have read your blog, they will know what table you are at, they will seek you out. Everyone else is a "potential" fan and getting snotty and asking folks to move because they are blocking your booth waiting for your neighbor, or annoying your neighbor while he/she's busy trying to get their fans moved is a missed opportunity.

Try and convert them by engaging them in conversation. Most, and I've seen this myself, will feel obligated to check out your stuff while they are invading your space. Once a couple are checking out your stuff they are no longer only in line to check out your neighbor and even a small group in front of your booth will draw more eyes and hopefully bring more.

But even if nothing comes of it right then you have made an impression as a friendly, professional guy. So the next time these folks see you or are exposed to your work it is even more likely to stick and perhaps even spread. 

But to put it simply, I don't think there is any way to get folks waiting to see your neighbors moved away from your booth without doing more harm than good.

Offline Pete

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #6 on: January 18, 2010, 04:07:34 PM »
Everyone else is a "potential" fan and getting snotty and asking folks to move because they are blocking your booth waiting for your neighbor, or annoying your neighbor while he/she's busy trying to get their fans moved is a missed opportunity.

Wow, I hope you don't think that's what I was trying to get across.

And Tara, don't worry, if there are people milling about, I always try to engage them somehow.  I'm just not very good at hard-selling myself.  :-)

Offline zieglarf

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #7 on: January 18, 2010, 05:06:29 PM »
Pete, I feel your pain.  ;) But if you're really stuck behind a crowd of people, try engaging them anyway. Ask if they're enjoying the show, if they found any good bargains in the Dealer's Room. Compliment them on their fine choice of t-shirt. Just get them talking. First, this will increase the likelihood of them showing an interest in your stuff, and second, it will help to create that illusion I mentioned, that they're there to see you.

If you are unable to engage them - then you might at least annoy them enough to move away.  :o This really is good advice though. If they show no interest in your product then make small talk. They will remember you for being friendly and might come back later.

Offline Rob

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #8 on: January 18, 2010, 05:10:16 PM »
Oh no. I know you wouldn't intentionally get snotty. But I've seen it happen.

It's day two of this shit. All day Friday your booth has been blocked and you are getting nowhere with the fans of the yoai anime that is next to you. All morning Saturday more of the same.

You come back from your lunch break and even you can't get to your booth.
You have made several polite comments, even joked about it a bit but the message just isn't getting through.

Two of your fans posted on your comic last night that they were at the convention but couldn't find you.


I've seen perfectly nice folks who do comics about hearts and fluffy bunnies lose it when something like this happens. Those booths can be pretty small. All I was saying was, a lot of times there isn't much you can do about it. If it were me I might have a conversation with the liaison to the show management and see if I could get moved or maybe get some cones set up or something.

But I've seen shows where football field long aisles were completely impassible because of three or four big attractions in that aisle.

There is almost no way to deal with that except smile, be friendly, and try and engage the folks standing in front of you. And don't bother with the hard sell. It usually doesn't work unless you are willing to make an ass of yourself in the process.

But no, I don't think you meant that you would get snotty. But even asking people to move and talking to your neighbor about controlling their fans can backfire.

Why? Because artists are nuts, people are different and react differently to stress situations, the people in the crowd are there to see more than just your neighbor and don't consider themselves that way. They see themselves as Convention patrons and all the convention is theirs to roam. And it is these differing perspectives that cause problems.

Probably the best way to avoid problems like this is to pay very close attention to the table assignments and try to make sure the folks around you are either in a similar business or optimally make a similar webcomic. Then you get some crossover. And if you find yourself in between some very popular exhibits that have nothing to do with your comic request a table change and if they don't grant it consider not going. I know that sounds terrible but why waste the money and effort if you are just going to be stuck behind a wall of uninterested people all weekend? Tell the showrunners that you are canceling, get as much of your money back as you can, make sure you tell them why you are canceling. Maybe they will then be moved to do something for you.

That's all the advice I've got on the subject.  It's a tough situation. :-\

Offline TTallan

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #9 on: January 18, 2010, 05:53:49 PM »
Just for laughs, allow me to share my most memorable con experience along these lines....

I was at the Motor City Comic Con, this was some time in the late '90s, and my "small press" table was located along a back wall and right across from the booth where GWAR was set up. I have no idea if GWAR still goes to comic conventions, but for those who don't know and can't be bothered visiting the link, they are a "thrash metal" band who dress up in latex costumes that look like some cross between Mad Max and... and... well, I have no words for it. They looked mighty stupid to me 10 years ago with their horns and oversized weapons, but now that I've been to a few anime conventions they don't seem quite so out of place.  :-\

Anyway, here's little old me with my quiet little sci-fi comic sitting across from GWAR. They put on little 30-minute "demonstrations"-- choreographed fights set to loud music-- three times a day. For the entire weekend. During these demonstrations the walkway in front of my table would be jammed with people... all facing the other way.

In this case, my neighbours and I could do nothing but commiserate together. It was mighty annoying at the time, but in retrospect it made for a good convention tale. I drew some silly little sketches to commemorate the event (it's not like I had anything else to do!), and, I have to say, they still make me laugh. :-)



Offline LegendWoodsman

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #10 on: January 18, 2010, 08:04:49 PM »
Has this actually happened to you?

It has a few times, and it's never been so crowded that I could not do a transaction... but it did obscure some sight lines and hid some of the displays on the table.

Whenever someone is in front of my table I always say, "Hello! How are you doing?(wait for response) I'm doing well, thank you. Have you heard of my comic? It's [insert elevator pitch]. Feel free to read a few pages" and this works well if my neighbor does a similar comic. You make new fans, you raise awareness of your comic, and you inspire world peace. :)

When my neighbor does (let's say, for example) fine art paintings, his/her fans would be polite and feign interest and wish me "luck"... then wait patiently for the line to move on.

But this one time... when a reader of my comic showed up and said "OH, I love your comic!" My neighbor's fans stepped aside and made room.
« Last Edit: January 19, 2010, 07:33:26 PM by LegendWoodsman »

Offline Yamino

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Re: Too many fans?
« Reply #11 on: January 23, 2010, 05:57:58 AM »
I've only been to a major con once as a seller, and this wasn't an issue, mainly because everyone at my table was more or less the same level of popularity.  In fact, I was kind of mooching a space off my friend's table, and I had only met them THAT DAY, and honestly I wasn't actually expecting anyone to recognize me or want artwork. (This was at F.A.C.T.S., in Ghent, the biggest yearly comic convention in the Belgium/Netherlands/Luxemburg regions.  I have a small, dedicated fanbase in Belgium, but the real majority of my readers are based in the US.)  Imagine my surprise when two people ACTUALLY DID know my comic and recognized my artwork. O_O  They were a far cry from the sort of crowd you're talking about though.

I don't have the experience yet to know if this is possible at American cons, but I think the best way to avoid this is to plan your table with friends/related merchants in advance.  It's better for everyone if you're closer to people selling related things, that way you can refer fans to each other, and more easily get them interested in each other's merch.  You could even set up deals with your friends, like if you buy one book from each person you get a freebie, or something like that.  That's what the girls at my table in Ghent were doing, and it was great.  Rather than competing, they were all selling their stuff together and so they all had a chance to talk to interested passers-by and they also all had a chance to take breaks when they needed.  It seemed like an ideal system to me.